Nokia Maps for Windows Phone 8 – the best mobile map app?

Nokia Maps is one of the highlights of the new Windows Phone 8 operating system which was announced this week.

The maps application will be built into every Windows Phone 8 device and promises to make it easier to find your way around with a Windows Phone 8 phone than it is with an Android or iOS device.

With its detailed route planning and offline capabilities, there’s a strong argument to say that Nokia Maps is the most powerful built-in navigation application on any smartphone. However, Google Maps is a proven performer, and, despite recent bad publicity, the iOS Maps app has potential.

So, how do the built-in map applications for Windows Phone 8, Android and iOS compare in terms of the features they offer? Here’s an at-a-glance run-down of the main features of each of the three default map apps:

Windows Phone 8 – Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive

Nokia Maps has been around in some form since 2001, when it was known as Smart2Go. With all this experience it’s no surprise that Nokia has such a mature and fully-featured maps application nestling inside Windows Phone 8.

The Nokia Maps application alongside the GPS navigation assistant, Nokia Drive, is a highly competitive alternative to Apple Maps or Google Maps. Here’s what’s in it:

  • Turn-by-turn navigation
  • The use of so-called ‘augmented reality’. You can see pictures of streets marked on points of interest, such as restaurants, bars, shops, etc. This makes it easier to recognize places you’re looking for in a foreign city.
  • Download maps to the phone and view them offline
  • Maps in 3D
  • Satellite images
  • Identification of stops and routes of public transport in 500 cities around the world
  • Details of traffic displayed on road layouts
  • Maps of the inside of buildings such as airports and stadiums (only available in 38 countries at present)
  • Night mode, which dims the screen so you’re not blinded by the light of your smartphone when it’s placed on the car’s dashboard at night
  • Instant action – thanks to the support for GLONASS-GPS receivers, it takes mere seconds to find your destination
  • Easy transition between Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive

Android – Google Maps

Google Maps is the most famous maps app of the world, and it comes bundled with every Android phone. It’s a service that has set new standards in terms of ease of use and the sheer scale of the information it shows about a particular area. Its most important features for Android include:

  • Maps in 3D
  • Search local businesses – restaurants, bars, tourist attractions by category
  • Satellite pictures
  • Turn-by-turn navigation
  • Google Maps Street View, which allows you to take a deeper look of the city streets
  • Maps in offline mode available for download
  • Allows you to plan routes, including public transport – buses, subways, trams and trains
  • Multiple layers of the map to add: car traffic on your route, the measurement of height, latitude and longitude, coordinates, or places which are marked with an article on Wikipedia
  • Maps inside the building like airports and stadiums –  very limited, though

iOS – Maps

Like many people, we were underwhelmed by the new Maps feature in iOS 6, which replaced Google Maps as the default navigation app on the Apple platform. Some improvements have been made since the launch with satellite imagery being improved and many inaccuracies fixed. However, it’s still an application that feels incomplete when compared to Nokia Maps and Google Maps. Here are its highlights:

  • Maps in 3D
  • Turn-by-turn navigation, unfortunately only in online mode
  • Satellite pictures
  • Traffic information
  • Local search
  • Business reviews and photos

Here’s a summary of the availability of map and navigation features in each of the three applications:

Nokia Maps Google Maps Apple Maps
Offline maps x
Turn-by-turn navigation
Public transport x
3D mode
Satellite pictures
Traffic information
Augmented reality x x
Indoor maps
x
Business search

What is your experience with map applications? Which smartphone map application do you think is the best?

Via Softonic Poland

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