While Apple sorts out the well-publicised issues with iOS 6’s native maps, Nokia has made a quick move and released a rival app called HERE Maps to get iPhone users from A to B.
Powered by NAVTEQ data – the data behind 90 per cent of in-car navigation – we had high hopes that our iPhone navigation issues were solved. But does HERE Maps deliver?
There’s certainly a lot to like. On launching it, you’re presented with a search bar at the top and a menu button, which lets you adjust your route to walking, driving or public transport. Walking routes are available with an audio guide, while the other options are purely visual – there are no turn-by-turn directions. Instead, you can follow the green dot for your location as you go or use the list of written instructions
Public transport details worked well in our Greater London location, giving bus and train information – not to mention how many stops we needed to take. However, it only worked for local transport – If you were hoping for information on what trains you need to get across the country, HERE maps won’t be able to help, at least not yet.
All postcodes we tried brought up good results and sensible route suggestions, and we did find Nokia’s maps held out more than Apple’s equivalent when searching for local shops and restaurants.
A particularly nice touch is that HERE offers guides and reviews from the likes of TripAdvisor and the Lonely Planet for these local results, and offers a list of other nearby places of interest that you might like to visit.
Another trick up HERE’s sleeve is traffic updates. They’re still in beta, but you can get an idea of the traffic in your area or destination with the flick of a switch – it’s just unfortunate that it doesn’t offer a re-route of your journey to avoid congestion yet.
And there are other downsides on top of that. You won’t be able to ignore the fact that HERE maps are incredibly low resolution, and this is really shown up on the iPhone’s Retina display. Satellite view was very poor in many areas, and zooming proved frustrating, as the magnification locks to the middle of the screen rather than where you’re aiming.
Offline maps are available, but only for one area at a time – you’ll overwrite your previous map every time you download a new one. Don’t forget you’ll need to have a wi-fi connection in order to download them too, so a bit of forward planning is required.
All in all, Nokia’s HERE maps provide a reasonable alternative while Apple sorts out its own maps issue. But it’s not without its faults, nor does it replace the void that Google maps has left in iOS 6 users’ hearts. It’s a nice backup to have should Apple maps leave you stranded, but its low resolution mapping and occasional usability frustrations could be a deal breaker for many.