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Nokia maps

patruns 10 Points
edited November -1 in Smartphone Navigation
I am surprised to see such a dearth of info. Anyone using Nokia maps? Does it require a data connection thru the cell phone provider or does it operate just like PNDs? Are you happy with it?


  • mvl 191 Points
    I'm attempting to get Ovi Maps 3.0 (formerly called Nokia maps) installed on my wife's N97.

    There is a huge learning curve, as Nokia has tons of quirks in installing software. You've got to install PC suite, then upgrade PC suite, then upgrade the phone firmware, then install the nokia map 3.0 update.

    I spent all last night in the above steps. The Nokia update process recommends a backup before firmware update and restore after firmware update, which takes over an hour on my wife's old USB1 laptop connection (it appears to backup the preinstalled Nokia maps).

    I quit for the night trying to run the Nokia map update. First it kept saying no space on the phone (I had 25+ of the 32GB free). Then I realized that Nokia has a 64mb app drive, separate from the 32GB data drive. And the Nokia backup/restore program that copied my wife's files from her old 6263 put all of her pics and movies on the 64mb drive. So after moving all the files I had space to install the map update, but now it can't see my N97. Perhaps it's part of the N97's reported USB instability, but that's where I quit for the night/morning.

    OK, long rant over. What a horrific waste of 5 hours, and counting...

    To answer your question, I'm pretty sure the maps sit on the local memory. That's what others have said in forums, and my 1.5 hour backup seemed to be copying tons of stuff from the "cities" folder.

    Also, before my attempt to update to v3.0 I activated my free 90-day turn-by-turn trial (I think maps are free, turn-by-turn is paid) on v2.0, but haven't used it yet. I attempted to activate a traffic trial on the preinstalled Nokia Maps 2.0, but it didn't have USA as an option (mostly European countries). It also had safety cameras, which I didn't try to activate.

    I'll post more if I can get this to finally work.
  • mvl 191 Points
    I finally got Nokia maps working last night. I manually installed the install file on the N97, but the Nokia Maps loader still couldn't see the phone. Then I ran Nokia Maps on the phone, exited, and Maps Loader said "you already have the latest version installed", and indeed by checking Nokia Maps on the phone, it was v3.0.

    Thankfully Nokia beta labs is working on Ovi suite to replace the haphazard collection of PC Suite and related applications. It appears Ovi suite will be a centralized PC/Mac program will all applications and upgrades under one program. Haven't tried it but hopefully this fixes the annoying mess that Nokia maps was to install.

    Anyways - on to Ovi maps:

    Ovi maps is an application that lets you browse maps on your phone google maps-style. The N97 came with maps 2.0 preinstalled, and it appears that maps 3.0 didn't change the map data (installed too quickly). Perhaps a new installation would require the massive multi-gig download of all the maps, I don't know. It appears that Ovi Maps is free for all compatible Nokia smartphones.

    Ovi maps can run in offline mode with it's preloaded internal global street maps. It zooms and pans just like google. If you turn on online mode, it will allow for satellite view and terrain view, downloaded for your location over the data connection. It seems to cache extensively, as pre-downloaded satellite/terrain views are available in offline mode also. It also has a "where am I" feature that moves the map to the location on the phone's GPS - the GPS did take a long time to sync, they don't seem to be using a QuickFix-style accelerator. Maps will also use the N97's built in digital compass.

    It also offers POI searching, which requires a data connection. It contains most of the POIs you'd be familiar with in a Navteq GPS, including cuisine-specific restaurant categories. I couldn't get POI searching to work offline, so it may be an online-only feature.

    These online features are very well integrated and seamless to use. You wouldn't even know which features are online vs offline, except changes in its "MB transferred" totals on the map screen.

    Turn by turn:

    Nokia sells turn-by-turn as an add-on to Ovi maps. It is $64 a year, but most new phones have a free trial for at least a week (the N97 trial is 3 months). What's really cool is they offer low cost daily and monthly pricing (eg $2/day), perfect for a tourist in a new country.

    Turn by turn is offered in Walk and Drive modes, with pretty much the same interface. I haven't used it to drive around yet, so I can only speak to the static-position features for now.

    It shows the maps in 2d or 3d on the main screen. On the N97 it does auto-portrait/landscape based on phone orientation, just like the N97 does in all its menus. It has an auto-zoom preference, and a manual zoom slider. There is also a day and night mode preference. It reduces the menu to an options button to maximize map real estate on the screen. When pressed the options button changes the menu to nice big iPhone-style icons (similar to most PNDs), suitable for tapping if mounted in a car.

    Turn-by-turn has voice directions, you can choose from about 30 languages. I don't remember if it had TTS. It didn't have voice recognition for spoken commands.

    You can navigate to addresses or POIs from the POI search feature, but it appears that POI search is only for locations near you. I couldn't find POIs near the destination nor POI in a different city (unless the closest search result was in a different city).

    Turn-by-turn also permits you to create multi-stop itineraries (but doesn't auto sort/optimize them). It also has a trip statistics with duration, average speed, and a few more things I can't remember. One issue is that it's route-preview is limited. It only has a graphical preview, showing the location of turns on a map of your entire route. You could zoom into the center of the route, but can't pan.

    In testing a few routes, it did not seem to have Navteq Traffic Patterns data. The directions it gave did not appear to avoid predictable congestion.

    I'll post more as I actually drive with the turn-by-turn feature. Their website says it includes highway signposts and speed limit warnings.

    Traffic and safety cameras

    Traffic was available for North America in Ovi Maps 3.0 (it was only available in Europe for Nokia Maps 2.0). It costs $20/year, but similarly has $1/day "tourist" pricing. I didn't have the time to learn how to pay Ovi, so I haven't tried it yet.

    Safety camera alerts are also available in Europe, but it wasn't offered for the US.


    Ovi maps seems like a powerful offering, certainly competitive with entry-level PNDs. Its pricing seems ideal for tourists traveling outside the map coverage of your own PND.

    I think it doesn't stand up to mid- or high-range PNDs with live traffic, mostly due to the smaller screen size, lack of voice commands, and the lack of historical data such as Navteq Traffic Patterns/IQroutes.
  • patruns 10 Points
    Thanks for the very informative report. I look forward to testing it out. I used the beta OVI Suite 2.0 to update to maps 3.0. Frankly, I find OVI Suite 2.0 to be exactly that.... beta. it is much streamlined but is missing a lot of the drop down menus. I had to go through multiple help screens to find the option for installing new apps only to find you just drag the file to your phone pic in the suite. However, when I did that nothing happened. I may go mack to OVI Suite 1.0 until this is ready for prime time.
  • mvl 191 Points
    I finally took Ovi turn-by-turn out for a 15 minute drive - somewhat disappointing:

    - The N97 GPS is bad compared to my Tomtom, although from what I hear it's probably average for a smartphone. It lost signal 3 times in 15 minutes, particularly when quickly accelerating. It frequently experiences delays in turning, usually I'm 100 feet past a turn before the GPS turns the screen and catches up. Sometimes on turns it puts me far off road for a few seconds. My suspicion is that the GPS lost signal much more than it reported, but uses a "constant speed / straight heading" assumption to fill in the gaps. When that assumption didn't work, it got confused. My Honda/Alpine GPS and Tomtom GPS both use a "keep on the route" assumption when signal is lost, which seems more appropriate.

    - The maps were much more accurate than my Tomtom, with all my mapshare-reported errors on my route already fixed. This was expected because Navteq is a lot more accurate than Teleatlas in Boston.

    - There was definitely no Traffic Patterns data being used on Ovi maps. The route it chose was vastly inferior to the Tomtom IQroutes route. Ovi maps said its route would take 10 minutes but it ended up taking 20. Tomtom IQroutes knew of a better way that it accurately estimated at 15 minutes (I've driven Tomtom's way before).

    - It had voice guidance, but the voices did not do text-to-speech. The "English US" voice still had a slight British accent.

    - Ovi maps had lane guidance arrows that showed up at a confusing city intersection. I was impressed, Tomtom doesn't show any lane guidance off of a highway. I didn't drive a highway so I couldn't see the Ovi maps highway sign feature in action.

    - There was an annoying flicker every half second a the bottom of the screen. Hopefully an app update will correct that.

    - The N97 screen is much small than my Tomtom and my Honda/Alpine. See the middle nav in this pic.


    This experience leads me to think Ovi maps is not yet up to prime time for replacing a dedicated PND. At $64 a year, it's not much cheaper than the $80-$100 you can spend on a dedicated PND. And don't forget that you still need to buy an expensive (and rarely subsidized) Nokia smartphone first.

    It still makes sense for urban zipcar types, or traveling outside the map coverage of your own PND. It's daily pricing is perfect for occasional use. And it's one less thing to carry around everywhere you go.
  • mvl 191 Points
    Further update - tried Ovi maps on the highway:

    - The GPS took over 10 minutes for an initial sync at highway speeds. The lack of Sirf InstantFix is really showing.

    - The highway signposts function showed up. The signpost was a translucent green sign overlaid on the top half of the map. Pretty cool presentation as you could see both the sign and the map through the translucence. It had a small static lane guidance picture on the side of the signpost.
  • patruns 10 Points
    I think I will confine my use to pedestrian mode.
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