Nokia's rebranded mapping service will soon arrive on iPhones and and Android devices, under the moniker of Here. For Android users this isn't a huge deal, but for iPhone owners living in the age of iOS 6, it could change a lot. Nokia's maps, on other platforms, have been fantastic.
The apps aren't quite available yet, but the web-based version of Here is functional on mobile browsers, offering a glimpse of what we can expect. What's so great about it? Quite a bit, actually.
- Cached Maps: Here will allow you to select a zone and zoom level for any given locale, and then the app will download all the data it needs so that you can access the maps offline. I chose lower mahattan at the setting which just starts to detail streets, and it cached a ~35 megabyte map for me. This is a feature I can see myself using on a regular basis.
- Smart Traffic Routing: Unfortunately, the web version of Here does not have turn-by-turn, but its static driving directions do make up for that some. You see, there happens to be an option to select the time of day you'll be driving, and it will determine the most efficient route from point A to point B based on the normalized traffic data it has collected in the past for any given time of day.
- Public Transit
: Yes, public transit is a prominent part of Here. But more than just giving you subway directions when you ask for them, it displays the name of each metro station on the map and gives you the option of overlaying train maps on top of the standard map (see top image).
- Collections: Going on a trip and want to bookmark all the places you've researched on a map? Wandering around randomly one day and want to remember that shop you stepped into? Collections is a quick and easy way to plot points on a map. It's like a more functional Google Custom Map.
- Points of Interest: If you search for a business, restaurant, or anything else using Here, it will automatically generate a list of nearby spots that you might also be interested in. Handy if the place you're trying to travel to is closed, or fully booked.
- Of course, this is still just a web app, so it's a little lacking when it comes to beauty and polish. But if Here can combine the functionality of the web app with the perks of a natively coded app, it could be really awesome. We'll find out in a few weeks.