You can do maps right, like Google does with its service Google Maps, or get lots of flak for your maps application like Apple did when the company switched from the reliable Google Maps to its own maps application on new iOS devices. Nokia recently launched Here.net, a new cross-platform mapping service full of HTML5 goodness that should work in every modern desktop or mobile web browser
Here bundles the companies own Nokia Maps service and data with other location-based services and maps, including 3D data from Earthmine, a company that Nokia acquired recently.Here.net looks on first glance like similar mapping applications. You can enter a location or place you are interested in to be taken there directly, or use mouse or touch-based inputs to explore the map on your own.
When you hover the cursor over a city you a selection menu pops up that displays a number of options made available by Nokia. This may include options to explore local places, check local traffic, or explore the city in 3D. The 3D option seems to be available for select major metropolitan areas only. You can for instance explore 3D models of London, Berlin, Rome and Madrid but not Paris, Philadelphia or Houston.
3D does not require you to install a browser plugin, everything is powered by WebGL. Loading times are fast and the overall quality of the display is excellent, even though you may find a few minor issues with certain buildings that may not display entirely correct in 3D.
You can use Nokia Here.net to display local traffic in select cities and places. The service displays traffic conditions on the map including traffic accidents and construction.
The Explore Places feature can be used to display heatmaps on the standard map to display shopping, eating and drinking, going out, and sights and museum hotspots. The heatmaps work in conjunction with other services like directions, which you can use to get directions from one location to the other.
One of the most interesting features of the application is the map creator and editor, a community-based editor to update mapping information. It is currently - unfortunately - only available in select countries including several Caribbean countries like Jamaica, Nepal or Mongolia. The map creator requires an account, and changes are only added to the map after they have been verified by Nokia.
The collections feature lets you share and save places you are interested in. Google Maps is offering a similar feature, and like there, you need to be signed in to a Nokia account to use it. Information do get synced across all your devices though.
Nokia Here is compatible with Android 2.2 and higher and iOS 4 and higher devices. Parts of the map can be downloaded to the local system to open them locally to save bandwidth or in times where no no or only a limited Internet connection is available.
A native iOS application and an Android SDK are in the making. The iOS application will offer additional features such as speech-based navigation, public transit information and more.
Nokia Here is an alternative to Google Maps or Apple Maps. While it may have issues in certain areas, like outdated sattelite imagery in some parts of the world, it worked surprisingly well and fast during tests with the exception of Jerusalem where the information were not usable at all. 3D is definitely one of the strong features of the mapping application.Advertisement
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