Nokia's new Here Maps app for iOS has made its way to the App Store today, promising free turn-by-turn voice navigation, public transit information, and rich traffic reports. We spent a little time with the new app, which Nokia hopes will replace the much-maligned native iPhone Maps experience, and came away with mixed impressions.
Nokia's maps are far richer than Apple's
Here Maps looks a little dated; if you've ever used Symbian in recent years, you already know what to expect. It's functional enough, though, and the maps are full of useful data and clearly marked POIs that will please those who don't like Apple's minimal approach to cartography. The POI information seems lacking in some places, but in both New York and London looked to be running as expected. The live traffic information, in London at least, is very rich in comparison to Apple Maps, but falls well short of Android's native Google Maps experience, which lights up virtually every road in central London. We weren't able to test turn-by-turn fully, but audio directions seem to only be available in walking mode. Nonetheless, Here offered up a reasonably sensible set of directions for both driving and walking.
We were left disappointed by incomplete public transit info
Nokia touted Here's public transit information at the app's launch last week, but we were left a little disappointed by the current experience. In both London and Amsterdam, the app is missing vital services like buses or overground trains, meaning that often its directions are nonsensical. We tested two of our commutes, one that relies on a single local bus, and the other that requires a single train. On both occasions, Here Maps instructed us to take no less than four buses and subways to reach our destinations. There's also no option to access your contacts for navigation, so you'll have to copy and paste it into the search box from the contacts app.
We also noticed some buggy behavior on the iPhone version, with the cancel button by the search box being completely ineffective. The iPad version fares a little better — its UI scales well and Nokia has added useful nearby POI info in a bar at the bottom of the display. Obviously this is Nokia's first stab at an iOS client for its new mapping service, and in many ways it's more functional than Apple's native Maps client, but for now, many of the additional features don't work as well as they ought to. Here Maps for iOS is available as a free download from Apple's App Store.