Nokia’s newly revised maps app, now title Here, is heading for iOS and Android as well as Windows Phone 8.
Nokia announced its next step in the mobile mapping market at a special event held in San Francisco yesterday evening (it was morning in west coast time). The company calls it Here, and says that it’s “the first location cloud to deliver the world’s best maps and location experiences across multiple screens and operating systems.”
At an initial glance, Here appears to be similar to the Nokia Maps mapping tool we know from devices like the Nokia Lumia 800 and now the Nokia Lumia 920. You can search for locations, plot out routes and the like.
Perhaps most of excitingly of all, Here will bring dependable maps to iPhone and iPad, which has been suffering ever since iOS 6 cut Google Maps from the equation for the launch of the iPhone 5. Even Apple has apologised for the state of its service, so an alternative is urgently needed.
We suspect that even Android users will be interested thanks to the offline capabilities of the dedicated Android app. Google Maps on Android allows users to save a portion of the map for offline use, but it’s strictly limited in scope and detail level.
Here, on the other hand, allows users to save entire countries to their phone. This is possible because Here uses a far more efficient vector-based format which takes up less storage space than other mapping solutions (it won’t be present on the iOS implementation, sadly).
Nokia’s new cross-platform mapping solution is light on its feet, then, which can be seen further in the way Here works in real time to refine your route, bringing in public transport information and time to destination updates. Ratings for local services and even the number of users checked in are also fed in.
Nokia is also pushing its 3D mapmaking facility with Here (though as pointed out by Pocket-lint, it’s unlikely to make its way to iOS). It’s already in pretty good shape, judging by the desktop web-based version of Here, but Nokia has also announced the impending acquisition of Californian company Earthmine.
Nokia says that “The company’s reality capture and processing technologies will become integral parts of HERE’s 3D map making capabilities.”
Nokia is expecting to launch an Android version of the Here app in 2013, while it will also be providing an HTML5-based app for iOS over the coming weeks. It won’t cost a penny on either platform.