Much has been made of Apple’s Maps app. The company that could do no wrong managed to put Bondi Beach in the middle of Auckland, among other humorous stuff ups, with its replacement of Google Maps in iOS6. It’s safe to say I, and others, have some trust issues with Apple’s maps.
But if you’re looking for a replacement map app on iOS, Nokia’s entry into the field isn’t it.
Nokia Here (free from the App Store) is based on the same mapping system as the Finnish mobile giant’s browser based map Here.net.
‘Here’ has New Zealand based maps, directions, and location information. It provides turn-by turn instructions, but no voice directions.
The maps appear to be accurate; it certainly knows that Bondi Beach is in New South Wales. The app is also able to suggest several different routes to the same location.
But the design of ‘Here’ is unappealing. It looks like a strange hybrid of Windows Phone's user interface and Symbian, without any of the redeeming characteristics of either.
What’s worse, the actual map is a lower resolution than the screens on the latest three generations of iPhones, so appears blurry.
While I wouldn’t suggest replacing the native Maps app with ‘Here’, the contender does have features that I’d like to see taken up by Apple and Google.
My favourite is the collections feature, which lets you save directions and locations to Here.net – so that you can access the maps at a later time, on a different device if you need to.
Clicking on a location brings up contextual information about it. If you click on a business, it will open up its Tripadvisor reviews; if there are photos it will show you a gallery of images about the location.
It also does this for businesses and locations near your search target.