Nokia has been able to significantly increase the size and scope of its mapping database through a partnership with Navteq, and has committed to continue to add location and "point of interest" data on a continuing basis. Additionally, they've added a new web-based mapping application as a part of the Ovi suite of services. Searches and trip planning performed using Maps for Ovi can be sent to a users S60 device for navigation in the field, one of several features that Google has yet to implement in their offering.
While we have yet to test this new software, the demonstrations we have seen and the claims Nokia has made have been impressive. One point of concern is that Nokia's implementation relies upon downloading a quite large application and map database to each S60 device. This is in stark contrast to Google, who has the Google Maps product that competes with Nokia's offering. Google's strategy is to handle all the mapping and computation on their servers rather than on the device.
This makes for a much smaller application that works across multiple platforms, but it also transmits significantly more data from their servers, which translates into a larger bill for data usage from your carrier. We have some reservations about whether Nokia's approach will work as well as Google's, since keeping data on Google's servers allow for a larger database, and constant updates to both the software and mapping information. Time will tell if a "heavy" application still has a place in the new lightweight, internet-centric world.
The Nokia press release reads as follows:
The Nokia Maps story unfolds with new integrated web services and other upgrades
New version with Ovi integration offers 3D landmarks and other enhancements including online planning on the web
Barcelona, Spain - Nokia has released the latest version of its award-winning mobile mapping and navigation service, Nokia Maps, as well as its personalized online mapping experience on Ovi by Nokia. This combination of Nokia Maps plus Ovi is the first free service that allows people to pre-plan their journey at home on their PC and synchronize with their mobile, giving access to pre-planned routes and favorite destinations while on the move. In addition, Nokia Maps has been updated to include a number of new features such as high-resolution aerial images, 3D landmarks for 216 cities and terrain maps, as well as a new route overview during routing and during Drive, the purchasable turn-by-turn car navigation guidance.
“Nokia has clearly increased the usability of Maps, and now with the integration of Ovi services, the functionality of this service can also be seen online,” says Michael Halbherr, vice-president, Nokia location based experiences. “Enabling Nokia Maps the ability to synchronize my favorite places between my mobile and PC. becomes the main reason for anyone to switch from other personal navigation devices to Nokia Maps.”
Maps on Ovi is becoming more than just a mapping tool. Over the coming months, Maps will become a destination for people to save and organize places, pre-plan trips and post-edit them. People can share their location and all their personally and socially meaningful content with friends, inviting them to join in activities and share experiences.
Other new options for Nokia Maps include instant access to real time information such as camera alerts, safety spots and traffic information for selected countries, as well as Wcities event guides that give real-time information for events and movies in over 450 destinations.
Walk, pedestrian navigation, improves from where the last version left off, by adding straight-line guidance, which allows you to walk the shortest distance between point A and point B. Should your journeys be more urban, beeps and vibrations during Walk navigation alert you when you need to make a turn along your route. The level of detail in the maps has increased to the point that you can view multiple entrances to the same underground metro station. The higher map quality is a direct result of the relationship that now exists between Nokia and NAVTEQ. The close working relationship allows Nokia to better utilize the map data that NAVTEQ supplies, which provides a higher quality and extensive coverage that enables more effective location based experiences.
The new version of the Nokia Maps application for selected devices is available on the Nokia Beta Labs website: http://www.nokia.com/betalabs. The online version will be accessible from http://maps.ovi.com. As both versions are released as a Beta, some product features may not be available in the Beta release, but instead, will be added into future releases.