Nokia blows away Google Maps Navigation and PNDs with FREE Ovi Maps
In the past I have used Ovi Maps (then called Nokia Maps) on Nokia smartphone without a SIM card as my navigation solution in foreign countries. Today, Nokia took a huge step forward in making Personal Navigation Devices (PNDs) even more unnecessary with their free Ovi Maps walk and drive navigation offering. These advanced/premium navigation services used to have subscription fees (that were actually quite reasonable) and lately we have been seeing Nokia launch devices with free lifetime navigation (like the Nokia 5800 Navigation). Starting today, selected S60 device owners can download and install a new version of Ovi Maps that gives you all essential car and pedestrian navigation features, such as turn-by-turn voice guidance for 74 countries in 46 languages, and traffic information for over 10 countries, as well as detailed maps for over 180 countries for FREE. There are NO longer any costs associated with using Ovi Maps (includes traffic, city guides, etc.) on supported devices and there is no degradation of quality or loss of features.
As clearly stated by Anssi Vanjoki, Executive Vice President, Nokia:
We want to make using your mobile for navigation as familiar as using it to send a text or take a picture. We believe that making the best maps with voice guided navigation available for free will be the catalyst to do this. Why have a mobile phone and a separate car navigation system that works in only one country or region? Put the two together, make it free, make it global and you have something that is truly useful and can help you get round almost any city in the world whether you’re on foot or driving.
The big news before this announcement was the Google Maps Navigation beta that is on the latest Google Nexus One and available for Android 1.6 devices. I have used this free service and it is quite good, but it does require a data connection since maps and voice navigation is streamed to your phone and there is no offline capability.
IMHO, this new offering of Ovi Maps from Nokia takes what Google offers to the next level with global coverage (over 180 countries), offline navigation support, and unique hybrid technology. One of my favorite features, rolling out on other platforms as well, is the ability to create destinations in your web browser and have them synced through your Ovi account across all of your Nokia smartphones. Offline navigation is HUGE and something I have used in foreign countries in the past. You can download maps to your Nokia smartphone before your trip and use Ovi Maps without a SIM or data connection.
This new version of Ovi Maps is immediately available for download for these 10 Nokia handsets, with more Nokia smartphones expected to be added in the coming weeks:
- Nokia N97 mini
- Nokia 5800 XpressMusic
- Nokia 5800 Navigation Edition
- Nokia E52
- Nokia E55
- Nokia E72
- Nokia 5230
- Nokia 6710 Navigator
- Nokia 6730 classic
- Nokia X6
As you can see some 5th Edition devices and S60 3rd Edition, Feature Pack 2 devices are supported. I no longer have an E71x, but that is a Feature Pack 2 device and would be interested in hearing if any of you are able to get the E72 version loaded on your E71x.
I spoke with Christof Hellmis, Vice President – Location Services, and he clarified that support will not be provided for earlier S60 3rd Edition devices. Don’t forget though, that existing Ovi Maps services on these devices will still work and any subscription you have should still work. I have to say though that I am SHOCKED the Nokia N97 is not in this list of supported devices and think this is a bit of a slap in the face to all of these people who bought the N97, especially since Nokia promised updates for the device that have yet to be delivered (such as Skype support). If the 5800 XM is supported, how in the world can the N97 not be at launch? I do understand that the N97 will eventually be supported, but still can’t understand their thinking here.
Maemo 5 and the N900 are not supported yet, but I understand Nokia is working to bring an updated version to the Maemo platform in the future. The N900 would be a perfect PND with its large display.
For the latest device list, please go to http://www.nokia.com/maps. In the meantime, current owners of Nokia smartphones that are compatible with the new Ovi Maps can download it free of charge from www.nokia.com/maps. Beginning in March 2010, new Nokia GPS-enabled smartphones will include the new version of Ovi Maps, pre-loaded with local country map data, with high-end walk and drive navigation and access to Lonely Planet and Michelin travel guides at no extra cost.
FREE does not mean cheap
Let me be clear that there are no new features or functions added to this latest version of Ovi Maps. This update is only to flip the switch for free advanced features. There will be NO priced aspects of Ovi Maps on your compatible device after this upgrade and there is NO degradation of the services provided to you for free. I personally find the pedestrian/walking support in Ovi Maps to be an outstanding functionality and looked to the premium version before for this capability. Many people walk around unfamiliar cities while traveling and now you just need a Nokia smartphone to free yourself from worry.
There are offline, priced solutions for the iPhone, Windows Mobile, and Android operating systems that range from $20 to $100, but also remember that this is a one-time cost for current maps and there are fees for additional connected services and map upgrades. ALL of this is FREE with Ovi Maps and thus you can immediately see significant added value to a Nokia smartphone over these other devices.
Future with Ovi Maps and GPS
Nokia also understands the future of social networking and social location features and has an Ovi Maps API that others can use to make their apps work with Ovi Maps. You can use Ovi Maps to share your location to Facebook now and there will be more social networking functions added in the future.
Nokia set the bar with camera phones on the phone and now is working to make GPS navigation as common and necessary across their smartphone offerings.
UPDATE: We have now heard that N97 support is coming very soon, but requires a firmware update first. I STILL think that Nokia should have had the firmware and Ovi Maps update ready to support their “supposed flagship” product out of the gate. They should have held up the announcement until the N97 support was added if they had to. You don’t want to piss people off with an announcement like this and those paying big bucks for the N97 should be rewarded.