There has been a pretty impressive beta of Ovi Maps floating around on Nokia’s Beta Labs over the last few weeks. It among other things like a new UI and a ton of new features, it brings pinch to zoom to multitouch capable Symbian^3 devices. That beta has just gotten a whole lot better with the ability to download street maps of complete countries over the air without you ever having to touch the Map Loader application on your PC. This also means that Mac users have one less reason to complain as they are no longer bereft of the ability to load maps before they go travelling.
But that’s not all, the update also brings:
My Position and Search are now integrated (now called Map). When accessed, it will show your last map view.
Back button in Favourites.
Long tap functionality to delete & rename collections & routes.
Pop up for first time use – to inform user to download new map data (when upgrading 3.04 > 3.06 for the first time).
Improved behaviours of transit lines settings in map toolbox (no more grey out).
Refreshed place details information view.
Needless to say, its time to head over to the beta labs and grab the update. You will need to sign in with your Nokia Account to get access to the download, but since we’re always happy to make things easier, here are the direct links::
So how did the new Ovi Maps feel on the N8 in real world situations?
To see how it the N8 performed, Iain Wallace of Do It Different and I set out on a drive around Edinburgh and I’m glad to say the N8 lived up to the expectations. After getting a fix in about a minute (cold start, first fix) the Ovi Maps performance was stellar, taking us to where ever we desired and even look for nearly places to eat and drink.
Since we weren’t carrying a car mount for the N8, the device soon found itself in the compartment just under the stereo and to out pleasant surprise it still managed to keep a fix and we could just rely on its very good audio navigation to get around.
Another good thing that shone here was the N8’s screen which coped with the bright sunlight very well. I will be bringing you more on this in another post, for now lets back to maps. In addition to the new functionality that I have demoed on video, the new 3.06 beta also brings:
Visually refreshed main menu and icons,
New maps with public transport lines (as a new map layer) for subways, trams and trains in 80+ cities around the world. Just click the map toolbox icon and select Transit lines,
Improved search experience – find places and addresses around you – or anywhere in the world – fast and easily. Browse places or enter a keyword in the search box. Now with suggestions and “did you mean?” functionality,
New place pages with description, reviews, pictures and places nearby. Interact with places in a whole new way – you can check in, contact, navigate, save, rate, share, report or see place on the map,
Share a place – send a place to your friends via SMS or Email. The SMS contains the address and a link to the place page with description, ratings, contact, URL and a mini map. The link opens up on the mobile browser (also on non-Nokia devices),
Check in – keep your friends up-to-date with where you are and what you’re up to. Check in to places and share it with your friends on Facebook and many more social networks. See places you’ve been to in your check in history,
New Drive assistance mode with live traffic flow – after clicking Drive, you’re instantly in drive assistance mode with live traffic flow and more. Once you start moving, get safety camera alerts and speed limit warnings,
More folder with many rich content services relevant to your location. Personalise your Ovi Maps by selecting the services you’d like to keep on your main menu for instant access.
All in all, the whole navigation experience on the N8 is extremely satisfying and I would never think twice before ditching a dedicated GPS unit in the N8’s favour. I also have a tried Google’s Navigation of the Android powered Galaxy S but its not a patch on Ovi Maps, which still works without a data connection.