By Evan Ackerman
Generally, a Nokia mobile application isn’t something we’d cover around here. So I think first, I should give you a full disclosure: I got a demo of Nokia’s new Ovi Maps app at a breakfast event yesterday morning that may have included bacon. I am reasonably confident that said bacon didn’t influence my opinion more than a modest amount, but I just thought I’d let you know.
Anyway, let me cut directly to the chase and say that the biggest deal with Ovi Maps, as opposed to something like Google Maps, is that Ovi Maps (which is totally free, btw) does not require a data connection for turn-by-turn voice directions. When you buy a Nokia phone that has GPS and Ovi Maps, it’ll come preloaded with a map of whatever country you’re in. From that point, you don’t need a data plan (or even a SIM card, for that matter) for the phone to provide you with driving directions, walking directions, and points of interest… It’s a great solution if you want a phone, and a GPS, but can’t otherwise justify the staggering expense of a monthly data plan.
The maps are vector based (stored as numbers, not graphics) so 74 countries worth of mapping data takes up less than 5 gigs of space, and whatever country you have loaded onto the phone is of course only a fraction of that. If you want the satellite backgrounds, Ovi Maps does that too, but you’ll have to have a data connection. Also requiring a data connection are integrated features like Lonely Planet and Michelin guides, but to reiterate, if you’re just looking for directions and points of interest, you don’t need to pay for data.
Here are some other tidbits worth pointing out:
-74 countries have turn by turn directions, 180 have road maps… Google Maps only does directions in the US
-New country maps can be downloaded to the phone through a PC free of charge, still without a data connection
-Turn by turn directions include lane assistance, and walking directions include paths through parks and will direct you through the lobby of a building if it’s faster (!), and you can turn on 3D landmarks
Currently, Ovi Maps is available on the following unsexily named Nokia phones: the N97, 5800, E52, E55, E72, 5230, 6710, 6730, and X6. The rest of Nokia’s family of GPS enabled smartphones should get Ovi Maps by March.
[ Ovi Maps ]