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6/7/2012
10:45 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Nokia Scoffs At Google's Offline Maps

Nokia says it's been doing offline maps for years, and that it offers much more than just locally cached maps.

Google has announced that several new features are coming to its Google Maps for Mobile and Google Earth products in the coming weeks. The chief new feature is better offline availability of maps. The new Google Maps will allow users to cache metropolitan-sized regions of maps on their device, which can be then accessed when the device doesn't have a network connection.

Part of the benefit, explained Google, is to help travelers avoid data roaming charges. For example, Americans planning to travel to Europe this summer may incur high data fees when abroad. If those travelers choose to download the maps of their vacation spot ahead of time, they may be able to save some money.

Big deal, said Nokia. That's not nearly enough.

[ The mobile battle is about more than maps. Read Google Acquires Quickoffice Mobile Apps. ]

"Offering offline maps is not only about giving the option to cache some data offline for later use, it's a complete experience," the company said in a blog post Thursday. "An offline experience is not only about street maps, it's also about offline available points of interest (POIs) to enable offline search, it's about navigation voices available on-device and offline rerouting."

Mobile mapping and navigation applications have been a core feature of Nokia smartphones as far back as 2006. Though Nokia has switched its smartphones from Symbian to Windows Phone, that hasn't changed its commitment to offering the best mapping products possible. It doesn't hurt that Nokia acquired mapping company Navteq in 2008.

The company offers an entire range of products to its Windows Phone devices, including Nokia Maps, Nokia Transport, Nokia Drive, and others. These services work online and offline to provide point-to-point directions in addition to info about local points of interest.

The new offline capability of Google Maps allows for areas with a 10-mile radius to be cached locally on the device. By way of comparison, Nokia allows customers to download street-level maps for entire countries. Worried about those maps consuming your device's entire storage? Don't. The entire U.S. map, for example, takes up 1.8 GB.

"So now you have all these shiny maps stored offline and you are ready to go. What will you do with them?" Nokia asks. "Most probably you are going to put your smartphone in your car and start navigating. In your home city, in your country, or abroad for vacation. It would be a shame to travel somewhere and discover you couldn't do much with the offline maps because no navigation instructions were available. This is why our voice guided turn-by-turn navigation is not only available for 1, 2 or 29 countries; it is available for over 110 countries."

There's no denying that Nokia has a bit of a chip on its shoulder. After all, it was once the worldwide cell and smartphone leader. It has since lost both titles to Samsung. As good as its mapping products are, the best ones are being reserved for its Lumia smartphones. Google Maps is installed on hundreds of millions of Android and iOS devices. Nokia's Lumia devices have received a warm reception, but aren't yet selling in numbers to cause any concern for Google.

With Nokia and Google making noise in the mapping space, it will be interesting to see what Apple reveals during its WorldWide Developer Conference next week. It is expected to announce its own mapping product so that it can ween itself away from reliance on Google's service.

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telle quelle
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telle quelle,
User Rank: Strategist
7/15/2012 | 2:36:01 PM
re: Nokia Scoffs At Google's Offline Maps
Yes, Nokia, it would be shame to travel somewhere and discover you can't do much. Especially if that "somewhere" is Japan, which Nokia has completely ignored. Having just arrived with my lovely Lumia 800 in Tokyo, population 5 gazzilion, I was DEEPLY miffed to learn that "Japan" doesn't exist in Nokia Drive's regions. What to do??? Pull out my sim card and stick it in my backup HTC Desire (Android) and use.....Google Navigation!!!
EVVJSK
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EVVJSK,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/8/2012 | 1:15:30 PM
re: Nokia Scoffs At Google's Offline Maps
I realize that Nokia is for Full Countries. What I am questioning is whether Google is only releasing 10 mile radius OR Full Country maps caching( or pre-download) ? FYI, I recently switched from a Nokie E71 (which has full maps) to a Google Galaxy Nexus. While I like the Nokia maps, WP couldn't sway me and Symbian and Meego are dying on the vine at Nokia so, I went Android.
Article by Matthew Miller at ZDNET seems to indicate that Google will be releasing Full Maps, not just 10 mile radius. If that is incorrect, then that would be handy for Android users to know.
Pino
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Pino,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/8/2012 | 9:27:19 AM
re: Nokia Scoffs At Google's Offline Maps
Hi EVVJSK,
I'm the author of the original post on Nokia Conversations, where I mention that Nokia offline capabilities are for full countries not for a 10 miles radius. This is a fact, whether you want to see a comparison with Google Maps or not.
From their blog posts and, most importantly, from their live demo it looks like they are upgrading from beta the offline caching they have been offering until now.
EVVJSK
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EVVJSK,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/7/2012 | 7:26:42 PM
re: Nokia Scoffs At Google's Offline Maps
There appears to be a disconnect somewhere. Matthew Miller from ZDNet is reporting this is FULL offline, not just 10 Mile radius. 10 Mile radius has been available for some time as a Beta for Google Maps (I used it in Europe in early May). Someone may need to research which of the two (Full or 10 Mile) Google is going to be offering soon.
beardypete
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beardypete,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/7/2012 | 6:52:42 PM
re: Nokia Scoffs At Google's Offline Maps
As a user of Nokia maps, I can't praise them too highly - being offline and covering as many or as few countries as you choose, is brilliant. Google's offering is very weak and just doesn't allow that important feature of any maps use, easy casual browsing. Try panning across a Google map - waiting for the page to refresh is excruciating and, of course, this is eating into your bandwidth allowance, a crippler if you're abroad and impossible where there's poor or no signal.

Thinking ahead isn't something many people do when it comes to wanting to access a map. Imagine only having a ten mile radius cut from a single page of a mapbook when you're sitting in a cafe in Provence, surely you'd want the whole mapbook...? Google will always take you down the DOH! route - you'll always want to look at somewhere that doesn't fall within the area you've downloaded. With the Nokia offering, you only have to have downloaded the country in question - I carry all of Europe as a matter of course and it occupies only a relatively small amount of storage space.

The reviewer suggests that you'll have to have a Lumia phone for Nokia's maps - Symbian devotees also have access - in fact, the Symbian version is more mature than that on Windows Phones and has a bunch of features not found on the latter. I won't be changing until the new platform's maps are up to scratch, but I will be drawn to the platform eventually, simply on the basis of the mapping tools.
Tom Mariner
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Tom Mariner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/7/2012 | 4:55:15 PM
re: Nokia Scoffs At Google's Offline Maps
"Skoff" -- is that a tech word for "eating our lunch"? And a substitute for "what happened to our market share" that was preceded by "Those smartphones will never take off -- the screens are too big and they really are just phones."

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