One of the missing features of the well known new version of Apple Maps is routing for pedestrian and public transports. The Nokia HERE app released this week for iOS is a great solution to that problem. Not only it offers to route the user from A to B via pedestrian paths and public transports but it can also display a public transport layer.
This public transport layer is a great add-on because it provides a better understanding of the nearest train and metro stations and the direction of the related lines. This feature is not only missing in Apple Maps but what also lacking in the previous Google Maps application for iOS.
Through the NAVTEQ acquisition Nokia has been aggregating over the years a lot of transit data for hundred of cities in the world, therefore the coverage is quite comprehensive, head to head with Google and sometimes providing more – as an example Google has no transit data for Paris, France while Nokia does.
In addition to that, Nokia offers voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation for walking as a beta service which seemed to work pretty nicely.
Nokia is providing an offline mode where you can download maps over Wi-Fi to use them at a later stage without need to connect to the network; an interesting option if you are roaming in a foreign country.
Nokia is also offering a user-generated content layer that can be activated in the menu. In our test for Lusaka the capital of Zambia (Southern Africa) the user-generated layer offers a wealth of details about the numerous streets of the city while the NAVTEQ map is only covering the largest roadways. Definitely an interesting addition for traveling in developing countries.
In terms of interface the application is easy to use with a well displayed “back“ button, something we always found to be missing in the former Google-based iOS Map application.
The only negative point is probably the lack of contrast between land cover types on the map which colors are pretty much looking like “50 shades of grey“. As an example the color of parks and forests are barely distinguishable from the roads so it does not help the eye to quickly catch up these elements.