The bag of Google Maps alternatives just got heavier with Nokia’s new mapping service announced today. The Finnish smartphone maker has revamped and rebranded its mapping service, which aims to take on the likes of Google and Microsoft. The mapping solution has been ambiguously labelled as Here.
Accessible at Here.net, Nokia believes this is the “most accurate map” on the Internet. Based on HTML5, Nokia’s Here maps works seemingly faster on desktops, smartphones, and all the mid- and high-end tablets.
Users on desktops and laptops can access Nokia Here by visiting Here.net (or Here.com). The web version welcomes us with an interface we all are familiar with — search engine sits on the left of header with a list of option next to it: Directions, Collections, and Map Creator.
Directions is used to find the distance between two places. Collections can be used to remember places you have visited and access these places on your phone or computer. The last one, Maps Creator, which is still in beta, allows users to edit maps and refine directions that are wrongly positioned.
Users are required to register an account to use Collections and Maps Creator.
As you visit Here.net on your browser, a green button at the bottom blinks with a message “explore near your location.” Clicking on this button tracks your location and shows places around you that are worth a look. Discovering new places, as Nokia believes, was never this easy.
Nokia says it offers 3D maps on Here, but desktop users cannot access these maps from the homepage. Users have to visit http://here.net/webgl to explore the gorgeous 3D view of our planet.
It’s fast, we said to ourselves when we accessed Nokia Here using an iPhone running on iOS 6. Maps loaded quickly, which was a surprise given our slow Internet connection.
Everything we have seen on desktop version is available on the mobile phone — from live traffic to finding directions or discovering new places.
Despite developing a tight relationship with Microsoft, Nokia Here maps will be first available in the form of an app to Apple users. According to Nokia, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users will be able to download Nokia Here app in the upcoming weeks.
Nokia Maps supports the following smartphones:
Apple’s very own Apple Maps was introduced a couple of months ago with the new iOS 6 firmware, replacing Google Maps. Though Apple Maps works quite well in some parts of US, it is still considered as a step backwards in Apple’s history. Users worldwide have found Apple Maps completely useless.
Not everything is super-fast and awesome with Here Maps. The map was fast, yes, but choppy when we were zooming in and out on our iPhone 4S. Fonts, compared to Google Maps, look dull.
However, the 3D version of the Here maps was surprisingly faster.
Nokia acquiring Berkeley, California-based Earthmine, a company focusing on capturing 3D data using various technologies, is the reason why we have an evolved version of Nokia maps. Nokia Here is positioned itself rightly to beat the daylight out of Google Maps and Apple Maps by adding Maps Creator. As more and more users register and edit roads, name places, accuracy of Here Maps will only be refined.
“For the location platform to be at the highest quality, one needs scale, and you need as many different people contributing as possible,” Stephen Elop, chief executive of Nokia, said in an interview with The New York Times.
Apple has kept both the ends of the rope to itself and doesn’t allow users to edit or add places.
Nokia has also promised to release an HTML5 Here app for Mozilla Firefox OS next year. Indoor navigation is still in the works, but it’s unavailable at the moment.
Have you used Nokia Here? Will you replace this with your default map application?