Nokia Maps gets voice navigation on Android and iOS
What, you didn’t know that Nokia Maps was available for Android and iOS? Well, it is. And from now on it has voice-guided navigation too. Yet before you run to the Play Store or iTunes App Store to install it, bear in mind that there are many caveats here.
First of all, you won’t find Nokia Maps in the aforementioned app stores. That’s because for iOS and Android it’s a Web app. So you can reach it by going to m.maps.nokia.com using your Web browser.
And therein lies the problem. First of all, people are used to getting apps such as a navigation suite from those stores. OK, so you can add a bookmark to the mobile Nokia Maps to your homescreen and almost ignore the fact that it isn’t a native app.
Fine. But then what is one of Nokia Maps’ biggest advantages on the platforms on which it is a native app? Offline maps. Ever since the first version was released on Symbian way back when (think Nokia N95 times), you have been able to download map data to your device and then use the maps without needing a data connection. Which comes in handy (an understatement really) when, for example, you’re off to another country. Before you go, you preload the required maps via Wi-Fi, and then when overseas instead of raking in outrageous data roaming charges you just enjoy yourself and have full maps and navigation available at all times for free.
This still isn’t accomplished by Google Maps on Android. Via a ‘Labs’ feature you can preload up to ten 10-square mile ‘squares’, but you can only view the preloaded maps – navigation isn’t available.
So can you do offline maps with Nokia Maps for Android and iOS? Obviously not. It would need to be a native app for that. So there goes that advantage.
But what about voice navigation? As a matter of fact, Nokia has just announced it’s available now for the mobile Web app accessible from Android and iOS. What’s the caveat? Well, the navigation is limited to walking directions only.
That’s right, no driving voice-guided directions for you. Not at this time, anyway. So, despite Nokia’s best attempts as framing mobile Maps as a worthy competitor to Google Maps and the likes, the thing is it’s still limited compared to Google’s offering. Which is ironic since Nokia’s native Maps app isn’t. Ah well. Maybe one day Nokia will get serious about mapping apps on other platforms. Until then, Google Maps it is (or expensive apps made by GPS vendors).