Well, that didn’t take long. It’s been less than a week after the world first heard the name Nokia HERE Maps, and the service’s official iOS app is now available on the App Store. While Nokia’s mapping service already had a mobile site, the iPhone and iPad apps add some much-needed features to the mix. The biggest advantage the app has over its mobile web counterpart would be voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation – a feature very few iOS apps offer. The feature is currently in beta and only supports walk navigation, though. 3D maps and Street Level are absent for now, but you do get Community view and all map modes, along with a special section where you can see the list of all the POI (points of interest) near a particular location. In addition, Nokia HERE for iOS syncs with your here.net account and saves navigation history, caches up to 10MB of offline maps and lets you manage your “Collections”.
Just like the mobile web version of HERE, you don’t have to sign in to your Nokia account to access most features. The interface of the app too isn’t much different from HERE.net. There’s a map view selector in the bottom-right corner and a search bar at the top beside the options button.
Four map views are supported, namely satellite, public transport, live traffic and community, where community maps display crowd-sourced map data (maps created by other users using here.net’s Map Creator).
If you want the to view the map of your current location, simply hit the small button in the bottom-left corner. The other option is to search for a place manually using the search bar.
If the place you search for or select has a phone number associated with it, you can place a call to it from the bar at the bottom. Other options in the same menu include Collect, Route, Web and Share, where Collect and Route let you add the location to your Collections and get direction to it from your current location respectively.
Apart from saved locations, the Collections area houses any bookmarks you create on the map, and lets you organize them into folders. It is mandatory to sign in to your Nokia account to use this feature, though.
After tapping the Route option for a location (or selecting the same option from the app’s main menu and specifying your destination), you’ll notice a play button in the route planning options that appear at the top. Tap that to get turn-by-turn voice-guided directions. The app will ask you to download a 1.9MB voice file the first time around. You can, of course, switch between directions for walking, driving and public transit, but as mentioned earlier, voice guidance is currently available for walk navigation only.
Another great thing about Nokia HERE for iOS is its “Nearby places” page. You can view shopping centers, eating places, sights and other interesting areas near the location you’re currently browsing.
You can save maps for offline viewing from the main menu, but the maximum size for that is 10Mb, so you’ll have to compromise on the level of detail if you want to save maps for a larger area.
In its current form, the app doesn’t seem like much of a threat to the other two big names on the platform, Google Maps and Apple’s new stock Maps. It just doesn’t seem as polished or fluid. With respect to features, however, HERE doesn’t disappoint for a debut-release. Though, we hope Nokia doesn’t take too long to roll out a more complete voice guided navigation, better offline maps support as well as 3D maps and Street Level.