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Nokia is looking to capitalize on the much-publicized Apple Maps flop with the release of its own mapping alternative for iOS. Dubbed Here, the free HTML5-based app uses Navteq data (the same that a majority of in-car navigation systems use) to provide walking and driving directions in a number of countries around the world -- the company lists 200 but the data available for each will vary, of course.
Users can switch between the standard map view and satellite, live traffic or a public transport layer that should help travelers explore foreign cities with ease. Here includes voice-guided turn-by-turn directions for walking, something that Apple does’t offer, but the same is not available while driving. There’s also the option to select a local region and pre-download the maps for that region in advance to enable offline navigation at a later time.
The service synchronizes with here.net so users can create custom maps highlighting points of interests on the desktop and then access them on their phone or share them with others.
All in all, early impressions around the web have been a mixed bag. While it’s functional enough and the mapping data seems comprehensive, maps don’t look as nice as they do on Google or Apple’s apps, and more importantly information is often incomplete in some areas, like nearby points of interests, live traffic data, and public transportation directions. Some of it might improve as more people use Here, though.
Nokia Here will work with any iOS device running version 4.3 or later and support for other operating systems, including Firefox OS, is coming over the next few months. An API for Android is due in the first quarter of 2013.
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