The biggest change that iOS 6 brings is the all new Apple developed Maps application. This means that you now need to say goodbye to Google Maps, and its excellent search and points of interest (POI) database. Sadly, despite what I assume were Apple’s best efforts, the Maps app is practically useless. There are no public transport directions, voice guided navigation is limited to a handful of countries, there are no offline maps, the search is nothing to write home about and the POI database is a joke. Finally, the Maps coverage, specially in India is a joke, specially when compared with Nokia or Google’s offerings. Oh, and Flyover (Apple’s bird’s eye view implementation) works in a handful of cities, not countries.
So if have an iPhone 5 or are running iOS 6 on an existing device, you’re out of luck. Fortunately, a little while ago Nokia started developing a web app for Nokia Maps, targeted towards Android and iOS. That app has matured over time and offers a lot of functionality that you would be missing with Apple’s Maps. Google similarly has a web app as well.
Nokia Maps Web App (m.maps.nokia.com):
- Really excellent coverage.
- Offline caching of Maps, great for times when you don’t have a speedy internet connection.
- Public Transport.
- Voice guided walk navigation.
- Excellent POI database.
- POI view, to quickly see interesting places around you.
- No voice guided navigation, but Apple’s Maps app can’t even route to a place only 2 miles away. So the ability to follow the route in real time by looking at Nokia Maps seems like a minor miracle for an Apple owner.
- Nokia Maps web app on the iPhone. Excellent all round coverage.
- Ability to set Favourites, jump into the POI view etc.
- Pre-cache a fixed area. If you want cover a lot of area, zoom out. However that comes at the cost of the level of detail you will see. Don’t expect to save entire cities, but great if you know the neighbourhood you’re going to be in.
- Drive and Walk Navigation. Public Transport in a growing number of cities.
- Jumping between different modes of navigation is very easy.
- A small download and you can have voice navigation while walking around. Great for times when you have your earphones on.
- Tap anywhere on the map and you can navigate to that place, or get POI information around it.
- Share places via text, on Facebook, Twitter etc.
This is what Apple’s app could muster:
Seriously. Forget the fact that India gets no voice guided navigation, the real bummer is that the app fails to route over short distances as well. Apple’s Maps app is not just bad, its annoyingly bad.
Time to put m.maps.nokia.com on the homescreen.