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Nokia Releasing Maps for Competing Devices

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the wait-until-elop-finds-out dept.

Software 57

another random user writes with news about Nokia's Meego/Winphone mapping application being ported to other systems, including Mozilla's Firefox OS. From the article: "Here Maps will initially be released on Apple iOS devices offering downloadable street plans for offline use, and audio-based directions for pedestrians. Nokia is also developing a version for Mozilla's forthcoming Firefox operating system, and will release software tools to allow third parties to make use of its data on Android devices. The move is designed to help the firm compete against Google's rival product."

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57 comments

Interesting (3, Interesting)

Cinder6 (894572) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981147)

I keep hearing about how great Nokia's maps are, so I'll be interested to try it. Having more users means more data sources, which means that the product should be able to improve more than if it were limited to Nokia phones. I just hope it has a better interface than their website, which is way behind Google's in usability.

Offline maps are great when travelling (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41981187)

When I'm driving through the rockies, sometimes I just cannot get a phone/data signal, so having maps available offline is very valuable

Re:Offline maps are great when travelling (1)

miknix (1047580) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981277)

When I'm driving through the rockies, sometimes I just cannot get a phone/data signal, so having maps available offline is very valuable

Totally agree! By the way, the maps application for Android also supports offline maps, I installed it as a plugin but I believe now it has been made the default?

Re:Offline maps are great when travelling (1)

InvisibleClergy (1430277) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981335)

Yeah, but unless it has been within the last month or two that this has happened, it's still not great. Travelling between Ohio and Indiana, there is a pretty long stretch of no 3G access on my phone, and my map just listed blank nothingness. If you're using the Google Navigation tool, it really should just pre-cache the entire map to your destination.

Re:Offline maps are great when travelling (5, Funny)

stigmato (843667) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981373)

Travelling between Ohio and Indiana, there is a pretty long stretch of no 3G access on my phone, and my map just listed blank nothingness.

Sounds like its displaying Ohio accurately to me.

Re:Offline maps are great when travelling (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41981825)

As someone from Indiana, that isn't fair. I've been all over this state as well as Ohio. Even in its more rural parts there are little tiny towns interconnected. I hung out in a lot of them when I was younger and know that if my car breaks down anywhere in the Midwest I can pick a direction and walk to civilization within an hour or less.

Contrast that with the southwest or worse...Mississippi or Alabama. Even the developed areas in between major cities are completely freaking desolate. No businesses, no services, no people for 60 to 100 mile stretches. When they say "no gas station for..." they mean it.

What I'm trying to say is that the Midwest has a lot, just nothing of note. There's a difference between something and nothing.

Re:Offline maps are great when travelling (1)

bondsbw (888959) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986179)

Someone from Indiana claiming that Alabama is desolate? Ha!

I'm from Alabama and recently traveled through Indiana. In most areas, I saw more windmills per square mile than people.

Re:Offline maps are great when travelling (1)

nogginthenog (582552) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981627)

I guess you didn't read the parent. Google Maps supports offline maps (no data connection need) and has done for a long time now.

Re:Offline maps are great when travelling (3, Informative)

ericloewe (2129490) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982707)

As long as you don't leave the cached route...

Re:Offline maps are great when travelling (3, Interesting)

queazocotal (915608) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983095)

And as long as the provider of the data allows them to - for example - not in Japan.

Re:Offline maps are great when travelling (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about a year and a half ago | (#41996369)

As long as you don't leave the cached route...

Actually no, the pre-caching is done on an area basis [androidcentral.com] .

In fact, if you're going to pre-cache just 5 minutes before going somewhere and before leaving your home wifi network, it's probably not going to work. It doesn't download just what you need, it downloads everything in a rectangle area that you've specified, thus forcing you to wait a few hours to download everything the first time you enable it.

To make their application more user-friendly, they should recommend that people pre-cache their maps when they first install/update the application, not just before the user goes on a trip somewhere (by then, it's usually too late, and it's a bad first impression for users to have).

Re:Offline maps are great when travelling (2)

stephanruby (542433) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986661)

It can pre-cache, but you have to enable it specifically. It's one of the experimental google labs inside your Google Maps/Navigation application.

Re:Offline maps are great when travelling (2)

RenderSeven (938535) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981319)

...which is why Google Maps latest release has offline maps. Pan to the map section you want, hit the menu button and click "Make available offline". Even works for AC's in the Rockies.

Re:Offline maps are great when travelling (4, Informative)

gutnor (872759) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981389)

However Nokia Drive ( on a Nokia phone ) works more like a GPS device. It allows you to download map on a country by country basic. Very useful in Europe.

Re:Offline maps are great when travelling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982749)

Yep. I just did an around-the-world trip with stops in DC, Frankfurt, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Korea. I was able to download all the maps offline beforehand and navigate without ever needing to use a data connection. Google's offline maps don't come close as they are for such small areas (instead of entire countries or continents) and you can't reroute automatically while offline. I was considering moving from a Nokia (Symbian) phone to Windows Phone just so I could have Nokia's offline navigation...but maybe I will be able to switch to Android instead. :-)

Re:Offline maps are great when travelling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42000915)

Nokia maps are awesome! I can pinpoint my sister's house and adjacent property that I own in Xalapa, Veracruz Mexico without difficulty. No such luck withi Google maps! And Nokia Drive works very well when out of cell-tower range, like back in the boondocks or mountains somewhere. As long as you can get a GPS satellite fix, you are golden.

Re:Offline maps are great when travelling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41981467)

awesome! Too bad I can't update my phone (thanks, Motoroogle) to use it.

Re:Offline maps are great when travelling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41981577)

Not available in Brazil, even though it worked when the feature was on the "Labs". Damn you Google for removing a perfectly functional and extremely useful feature!

Re:Offline maps are great when travelling (1)

nogginthenog (582552) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981585)

It's been there for a long time (more than 1 year?). The just made it more prominent in the latest releases.

Re:Offline maps are great when travelling (2)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981591)

..which is why Google Maps latest release has offline maps.

Which is still pretty much crap. I used it when I was traveling in New Mexico and Google's map cache consumed most of my phone's memory and still didn't work well enough to be useful.

Re:Offline maps are great when travelling (3, Informative)

Etherized (1038092) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981767)

From what I can tell, you cannot navigate or search for addresses while in "offline" mode on Google Maps. If you are already navigating or already have search results up, they will remain, but you cannot pre-download a map and start navigation while offline.

This is not a huge issue for me, since I seldom travel where there is no service, but it would be nice to not have to worry about this at all. I do not know whether Nokia Maps is any better - until now that has been rather academic as it had not supported Android :)

3 Years Late (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981263)

Nokia is too late to the table to grab the most delicious morsels; the easily picked fruit.

Re:3 Years Late (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41981537)

Nokia is too late to the table to grab the most delicious morsels; the easily picked fruit.

Yeah, they started just selling their maps yesterday... you know, just after you were born.

Re:3 Years Late (4, Insightful)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981679)

Nokia is too late to the table to grab the most delicious morsels; the easily picked fruit.

If they do this quickly enough, and offer the same feature set as Google Maps, they can get a whole mess of disgruntled iOS users as well as draining away market share from Google Maps. Google Maps is nice as long as you have network coverage, but it sucks ass the moment you loose your connection (at least it did on iOS). If Nokia maps offers better offline performance than the Google Maps app did on iOS then I'd use it in preference to Google Maps any day, it would beat dragging a Garmin unit around with me. Another downside of Google maps is that if you don't live in the US/EU and in the vicinity of a major population center there are many places where you do not get down-to-house-number navigation. This may all work perfectly for Android users but on iOS Google Maps kind of sucked. I have often found myself getting down-to-house-number navigation in many places with Nokia (Bing) maps where I was SOL with Google Maps. In places with no coverage or where even Bing Maps fails I usually reach for my Garmin unit. Come to think of it, if I was Apple I'd consider fixing Apple Maps by buying Garmin. Dunno if that is realistic but Garmin maps are really good including their international maps.

Re:3 Years Late (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986159)

Navteq supplies garmin its maps and nokia bought navteq in 08. An apple purchase of garmin is unlikely

Apps or just a website? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41981287)

Are there going to be apps for Android/iOS? I checked Nokia's and Here's sites and found nothing.

Nokia's data source is great (4, Interesting)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981417)

For those who aren't aware, Nokia sources its mapping data from FedEx [theatlantic.com] and a number of other couriers. As a result, the maps that they're using are not only more up-to-date, since the couriers need to keep them updated in order to stay in business, but they're also more able to work in data such as traffic patterns and the like, since the couriers put in FAR more time and miles on the road than the technology companies.

To put it in perspective, UPS drives 3.3 billion miles each year. In contrast, Google's cars have driven "only" 5 million miles in total. So, roughly a thousand times more in a fraction of the time. Google's mapping data isn't insignificant, but it's dwarfed by the amount being produced by UPS, FedEx, and the like, and Nokia has access to all of that.

Re:Nokia's data source is great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41981541)

And yet I was able to get my street address updated in Google Maps, but both UPS and Fedex can't find my house because the house number isn't where they expect it. When I search it on Google Maps (from anyone's account/not logged in) it correctly finds it.

I wish they would use Google Maps. ;)

Re:Nokia's data source is great (1)

EzInKy (115248) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981609)

Still, since you can't separate Nokia from Microsoft few here would reccomend them.

Re:Nokia's data source is great (4, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981621)

Doesn't Nokia also own NavTeq, one of the premier mapping companies that provides map data to everyone as well?

Re:Nokia's data source is great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983415)

exactly, they also receive gps map data from phones so there data has just as many new data points as fedex, etc.
It's just that fedex data is more commercialy valuable in some respects.
TomTom has the competeing data base and is valued less by the markets, they also recieve updated map data from routes being driven ithe their devices.

Re:Nokia's data source is great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41985409)

Technically, it is not NavTeq any more. When they bought them, they merged their own mapping department with the people who came with NavTeq, so the new Nokia Maps is about 80% NavTeq people and some Nokia people. They do still exist as a business entity, though, and post separate balance sheets, which lets us know that it is the only profitable part of the company at the moment.

Re:Nokia's data source is great (3, Insightful)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981637)

I thought it was because Nokia owns Navteq which has been a provider of GPS based navigation since the late '80s. Most of the couriers use Navteq as well as some US municipalities which explains the high accuracy of the mapping data.

Re:Nokia's data source is great (1)

iserlohn (49556) | about a year and a half ago | (#41981647)

That's only Google's cars, but what about the millions of people using Google Navigation in their own cars?

Re:Nokia's data source is great (1)

inputdev (1252080) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982907)

this. Especially since Fed-ex and other couriers are likely going to stay on main routes, and so the mapping should be much better from a diverse set of cars (drivers with google phones.)

Re:Nokia's data source is great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41982681)

That is not a relevant comparison.

Google gets traffic data from any android mobile phone that opts to send its anonymized data to Google. I would presume that about half of the users just say yes. The number of miles they cover is far larger than Fedex. The google cars are in addition to that - they are there to collect Camera and Wifi data, not traffic stats.

Either way, Google's traffic data is very very accurate. My office window faces an interstate (i-95) and I can see Google update that traffic stats within 5 minutes of a traffic jam that I see.

Re:Nokia's data source is great (2)

darrylo (97569) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983273)

In the case of the Apple Maps issues, map data accuracy is just one of three big issues. The other two are:

* POI data, such as public transit info (nonexistent) and POI accuracy (POIs may be in the wrong location or no longer existing).

* Street View. Lots of people use Street View to examine an area (e.g., "What's the parking situation like?").

Re:Nokia's data source is great (1)

swb (14022) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984811)

I find the Apple Maps hullabaloo greatly overblown. No problem with finding POIs, turn-by-turn navigation has been perfect, including navigating idiotic suburban mall streets (the kind with dumb names that only run 500 yards and are hard to divorce from the surrounding mall parking).

I can't comment on public transit where I live, but I do know that the subway info on Google Maps was borderline unreliable when I was in NYC last spring. Subway entrances in many cases weren't where they were marked on the map. I gave up after that.

I ended up using iTransNYC on my iPhone and found it orders of magnitude better than Google maps -- directions from one street address to another street address with every practical train combination imaginable. It made the subway so easy to use that it became a game of figuring out how to ride the subway places when it was actually faster to walk. I think we drained $35 off our metro cards in less than 5 days.

Not every area has a custom transit app I know, but in a place like Minneapolis where I live I can't imagine that anyone riding the bus depends on Google maps for directions or schedules.

Re:Nokia's data source is great (1)

darrylo (97569) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986847)

While you and others have no problems with Apple maps, I think you're falling into the common trap: "I have no problems, and I don't see how anyone else can have problems, therefore there really aren't any problems". Lots of people are screaming and, if this really was overblown, Tim Cook would not have apologized, and Scott Forstall might still have a job at Apple.

I don't use public transit, and so I can't really comment on the accuracy; however, from the screaming that I've seen, the transit issues seemed to fall into two subcategories:

1. Nonexistent transit POIs. Yeah, accuracy (as in your NYC example) may certainly be an issue, but I'd argue that "borderline unreliable" is still better than nothing (but, see the note below).

2. Google has transit schedules linked to the transit POIs. It's pretty easy to see when the next bus/train is going to arrive/leave.

Note: it seemed to me that the people complaining were "casual/occasional/out-of-town" users of public transit. These people don't use public transit enough to know either the schedules or terminal locations.

Re:Nokia's data source is great (0)

swb (14022) | about a year and a half ago | (#41992423)

It struck and still strikes me that the Apple "apology" was as much a result of the hype and publicity than significant problems. I think the biggest significant "problem" was that it wasn't Google maps, and that's what people expected and/or wanted.

I still don't get the transit POI complaints -- most cities with significant transit infrastructure (NYC, Chicago, DC, Atlanta, Bay Area) have either custom apps or sophisticated enough existing info (ie, mobile-enabled web sites from the transit authority) that makes Google Maps transit info look weak (which in practice it is).

Furthermore, are there people outside of 2-3 metro areas who have been using the bus/subway all this time who are suddenly in the dark about how to get where they usually go? And in many places with subway service, who cares what the schedule is outside of a handful of express routes or at extreme ends of the day (ie, when some lines become express only or quit stopping at some stations)? In my experience, the wait is in single digit minutes.

Outside of those cities, most people are drivers, not bus riders, and these people don't care about transit POIs because they're not using transit at all or they're only consistent commuters who already know the schedule, and that represents a lot of the US.

At the end of the day, the people who might had a legitimate gripe about transit POIs seems like a really small set of people.

Had Google made a map application available on day 1, I don't think anyone would have cared. And in fact, it seems like Google's failure to provide an iOS maps application becomes a bigger and bigger problem for them as time goes on. Apple Maps backend data gets better and better as more and more people use it and the bugs get worked out. By the time Google actually gets their maps app out for iOS, there will be a lot of inertia to overcome as people are already used to Apple maps and/or find it superior (ie, spoken nav).

Re:Nokia's data source is great (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986635)

To put it in perspective, UPS drives 3.3 billion miles each year. In contrast, Google's cars have driven "only" 5 million miles in total.

Sorry to burst your bubble. Google doesn't just use Google's cars for its maps and traffic information.

It uses every Google Navigation and Google Latitude users' moving car for real-time map and traffic information. It's been doing that for a number of years now. And it's not the only one. TomTom and Waze have been doing this for a while too.

As a result, the maps that they're using are not only more up-to-date, since the couriers need to keep them updated in order to stay in business, but they're also more able to work in data such as traffic patterns and the like, since the couriers put in FAR more time and miles on the road than the technology companies.

Again, sorry to burst your bubble, but NavTeq (now owned by Nokia) the largest mapping provider in the World may have been one of the biggest innovators of the 90s, but ever since companies like TomTom and Google came on the scene, it's only been playing catch-up to them.

Besides, NavTeq does supply mapping information and mapping data to Google and to everyone else, but it has just been the slowest one to innovate. And if you ask me, Google has practically invented crowdsourcing, making its own users do free work for them, so it does surprise the hell out of me when someone arrives at the opposite conclusion.

Nokia maps are fantastic (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41981901)

Nokia maps are great, I downloaded the entire country on my old phone while it still had service, and I use it as a GPS unit now that I have a new phone. No updates or traffic, of course, but it makes a quite capable device remain in service instead of thrown in a drawer and forgotten.

Giving up the crown jewels? (2)

qaqa (980561) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982001)

Nokia maps are by far the best in the mobile space. It is one of Nokia's biggest selling points. Now that they are making their maps available to everyone, what "killer exclusive feature" do people have to move to Nokia/WP8? Are they resigned to becoming an app developer, a sideshow, for the biggies?

Re:Giving up the crown jewels? (1)

tomofumi (831434) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989723)

looks like they are turning to a more open attitude to other platforms now, instead of WinPhone only. Next step maybe going multi-platform (Android phone?)

Nokia offer WebGL maps (1)

Sits (117492) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982147)

Nokia has a WebGL version of their web maps [nokia.com] which has a Google Earth like functionality to it. While they don't label many places initially the search seems to recognise names of towns which are then labelled on the map and there are things like 3D buildings in certain locations (e.g. London). The regular Nokia Maps [nokia.com] offers a more complete solution at the moment but it's surprising to see a web mapping solution that isn't Bing [bing.com] or Google [google.com] especially using new web technologies (to the best of my knowledge Google are the only other ones using WebGL to serve up their maps).

Data looks solid, web ui is buggy (1)

caywen (942955) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982193)

Annoying bugs with their web UI. For example, when you click and drag, it often things you've flicked when releasing the mouse, causing further map panning. It's nowhere near as solid as Google or Bing. Also, their tile loading latency is a bit high. Sounds like they need to throw more hardware at it. Otherwise, it looks like a really solid entrant, complete with street level views, 3D, and really nifty features. I particularly like the shopping / restaurant heat maps in major cities.

How about releasing them for their own OSs? (0)

hobarrera (2008506) | about a year and a half ago | (#41982481)

AFAIK, there's no offline maps for maemo (Nokia N900), how about supporting your own OSs first? You know; to give something to the people who actually pay for your products.

Re:How about releasing them for their own OSs? (1)

queazocotal (915608) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983131)

There is.
(or was).
http://maemo.org/community/maemo-users/ovi_map_download_on_n900_how_to/ [maemo.org]
I've done this - I can't say if it still works properly.
Well, I could, but I won't, as I can't be bothered to check.

Re:How about releasing them for their own OSs? (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about a year ago | (#42084429)

It's funny, because it's a linux distro that requires a windows PC to download certain data.
I don't actually have access to any windows-based computers, so I can't really try this.

Again, it's sad they didn't develop the software for their own OS (maemo) instead of just windows. Makes little sense IMHO.

Re:How about releasing them for their own OSs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41985989)

I'm still waiting on Google to release a Navigation app for my T-Mobile G1!

I'm an n900 user too, but I don't expect Nokia to support a 3 year old device any more than I expect Google to support a 4 year old one. That money that you gave them is long gone. The reason to release for iOS, or Android is obvious.

1) Brand name association. "hey, this map thing is cool." And a few years down the road... "hey, Nokia sells phones, huh? I'll try one".

2) The Elopcalypse means that Nokia needs some more revenue. Releasing an app and getting paid for clicks is a decent revenue stream.

3) If it succeeds and gets a good user-base, other companies will take interest and form better partnerships.

Nokia Maps are far superior (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983189)

Having used all major mapping technology, Nokia's is the very best.

Can it pronounce street names correctly? (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984665)

I use google navigation some times and it has never succeeded in pronouncing any non-english street names remotely correct.

Re:Can it pronounce street names correctly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41985401)

It can't get the English ones right, either... I remember them using the Google toll free 411 number and how they ended it because they had all the data they needed. Too bad even on the last day it STILL couldn't get several cities near me figured out. At that point I figured Google will never get any of the voice stuff right if they thought what they had was good enough. I still see it's the case!

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