When Nokia announced its intentions to bring a version of its mapping service to iOS last week, we didn’t expect to see it just a week later, but “here” it is. The new map app is free and currently available to download via the iOS app store for both the iPhone and the iPad (as well as the iPod Touch) running at least iOS 4.3.
While the app lacks the polish of clean vector based maps like those found on Apple’s maps, from my quick tests, it was very accurate with pin point accuracy, but it was a little slow. That being said, the app does have some serious positives aspects, like detailed maps for over 200 countries and thousands of points of interests, something Apple’s map app lacks. It also features an offline mode, so if you don’t have access to the internet, you can still use Nokia’s HERE maps to find your way and even if you do have internet, using the offline maps can save you from using precious data, if you’re on a tiered plan.
The only other let down is that turn-by-turn navigation is limited to only walking directions, which is great if you live in a large city and don’t drive anywhere, but for the rest of us, it’s pretty useless. HERE maps syncs up with Nokia’s Here.net, which allows users to create their own custom map areas, which once created on their computers, can then be accessed on their smartphones.
Nokia certainly beat Google to the punch with HERE Maps, but with limited turn-by-turn directions, no vector based maps and slower loading times, Google shouldn’t have much competition when, and if, they launch their standalone maps app for iOS. As for me, I’ll continue to use Apple’s mapping effort until I see Google’s, as Nokia’s HERE doesn’t offer me a solid reason to switch, yet.