Nokia this week announced that its HERE for Android mobile app—which combines HERE Maps, HERE Drive, HERE Transit into a single solution—is now available in its first non-beta version. This update to HERE for Android provides a number of new features. But the key reason to try it is the same as ever: it works offline too.
If you’re a Windows Phone user, you understand why the HERE apps—which are separate apps on that platform—are so special, but of course the ability to download maps of cities, counties, and other areas for offline use is just amazing: Your phone is a free GPS even when it’s offline.
On Android, of course, users have access to Google Maps, which is generally superior to HERE in that it’s more up to date, offer alternate routes on the fly, and so on. But what Google Maps still lacks, inexplicably, is the ability to download maps. Instead, what you can do is “save a map,” which is really just a section of a map. So it will work for a short offline set of directions but isn’t a full-blown offline feature like with HERE.
So my point is simple: No, shouldn’t remove Google Maps. But there is absolutely no reason to not try HERE for Android and just have it ready for those awful moments when you are offline and need directions or other location information.
Previous to now, HERE for Android was available in beta form. But Nokia feels that the app has reached a level of maturity and stability that they can declare it ready for a full production release. And this latest version has a few interesting improvements.
Improved routing. HERE for Android will let you switch between car, public transit and pedestrian routes, on the fly, rather than forcing to switch to the appropriate tab, as before.
More interactivity on the map canvas. HERE for Android lets you interact with the places you see on the map, even when offline. So you can tap on a restaurant and get the contact information, photos and reviews. You can also tap on Points of Interest and traffic information. For example, if you tap on a road closure, HERE can often explain the length of the closure and which other streets are affected by it.
3D venue maps. Shopping malls, airports and other locations will now display three-dimensionally so you can spin them around to match the direction from which you entered the venue and then switch between floors.
Faster access to Collections. A Collections item has added to the menu, so you can access your location collections more easily from anywhere in the app.
Background downloading. When you are downloading a map, it will happen in the background so you can do other things.
Fit and finish work and bug fixes. Nokia says it has fine-tuned the user interface so that it gets out of the way, letting you see more of the information that is important to you. It fixed “many, many bugs,” including three it calls out. “We’ve increased the volume of the spoken directions in Drive by 25 per cent – we heard many of you found it too quiet previously,” Nokia explains. “And issues with the use of SD cards for storage and with voice downloads should now be solved, too.”
Tagged with Nokia HERE