With Windows Phone 8 officially introduced last Monday and the first smartphones based on this platform being shipped or reviewed, it’s time to have a quick overview of its location-based apps and experiences.
As you may already know, Nokia is delivering the backbone for all location experiences on Windows Phone 8 and offering Nokia Drive to all Windows Phone 8 partners, empowering this new OS with voice guided turn-by-turn car navigation.
Since we made these announcements, some legitimate questions have been asked on Twitter, on this blog and in the first reviews of Windows Phone 8. I would therefore like to summarize them and provide some clarification.
What does it mean that the Nokia Location Platform is powering the Windows Phone 8 ecosystem?
It basically means that location-based apps for Windows Phone 8 developed by Nokia (e.g. Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive, Nokia City Lens and Nokia Transport), apps developed by Microsoft (e.g. Bing Maps) and apps by any other developer make use of basic functionalities provided by Nokia.
It also means that some features like offline maps are now completely embedded into Windows Phone 8. You can find this option in your smartphone settings.
Is Nokia Maps on all Windows Phone 8 smartphones?
The Nokia Location Platform is powering the Windows Phone 8 ecosystem, not Nokia Maps, which is an app. On non-Nokia Windows Phone 8 smartphones, the default mapping application is Windows Phone Maps. This is running on top of our map data. It is using our geocoding, our traffic information and our routes, but it’s ultimately developed by Windows Phone, with a custom UI, search and POI database.
Where is turn-by-turn navigation?
Nokia Drive is the application that provides voice-guided turn-by-turn car navigation on Nokia smartphones and with Windows Phone 8 it’s also being made available to other manufacturers. Nokia Drive has been rewritten from the ground up specifically for Windows Phone 8, to leverage the power of this OS and offering new features.
We are currently testing it and a beta version will be made available very soon. On a Nokia smartphone like Nokia Lumia 920, you will find a tile on the start screen that will take you to the Windows Phone Store to download Nokia Drive Beta. Other manufacturers and Microsoft will decide in which countries and on which devices Nokia Drive will be offered to their customers.
You will be very pleased to know that some of the features you have requested the most, spoken street names and route planning options to avoid toll roads, ferries, etc., have been included in this release. However, while currently in beta, Nokia Drive for Windows Phone 8 won’t support My Commute just yet and we strongly suggest you to make use of the offline maps to enjoy your travels.
What’s new in Nokia Maps for Windows Phone 8?
On Nokia smartphones with Windows Phone 8, the default mapping application is Nokia Maps. We’ve been working hard during the past few months to develop a great new release specifically for Windows Phone 8. In a previous blog post I’ve explained all the features we are including in Nokia Maps for Windows Phone 8 or currently working on.
While the first version of Nokia Maps for Windows Phone 8 was being preinstalled on our newest smartphones (v 2.9), we were already working on an update with even more features. This is why, when you first start your new Nokia smartphone with Windows Phone 8, we encourage you to immediately update Nokia Maps and enjoy all the latest features (v 3.0).
In a nutshell, you won’t only be able to use offline maps but also offline search and routing, also for public transport. You can use turn-by-turn walk navigation or start Nokia Drive to get voice-guided, turn-by-turn car navigation. Last but not least, you will also find your way indoors with the support of venue maps in almost 18,000 buildings in 40 countries (and counting).
‘Nokia Maps offers the most advanced mobile maps offering to consumers today with largest global coverage, highest quality mapping data and true offline availability’ said Francisco Jeronimo, Research Manager, European Mobile Devices, IDC.
What’s new in Nokia Transport for Windows Phone 8?
Nokia Transport (aka Nokia Transit in North America) has also been updated with great new features. Just like Nokia Maps, we started working on a new version of Nokia Transport immediately after preinstalling it on the Nokia smartphones with Windows Phone 8. This is why you will find an update in the Windows Phone Store in coming days.
With the new version of Nokia Transport for Windows Phone 8, automatic over-the-air updates help ensure you have the latest information on schedules and routes as well as on newly supported cities. You can now get a combined segment map and detail view to orient yourself at a glance: just tap or swipe a specific segment of your journey to expand an intuitive map and detail view that easily lets you see where you are and where you need to be.
New display settings will give you the options to select miles or kilometers, the time of departure or the time you have until the next departure and plan ahead by setting time and date of your journey. From Nokia Transport, you can now also launch the turn-by-turn walk navigation provided by Nokia Maps to get to the next stop or to your final destination. The search history has also been redesigned to be easier to use and to support entries management. For example, you can now manually delete previous searches and keep the history tidier.
What is Nokia City Lens?
Nokia City Lens turns sight into the next interface for searching the world around you. The app provides information about each building or landmark in the area, giving people an at-a-glance understanding of what restaurants, museums, shops and others places of interest are nearby. Seeing a place of interest through augmented reality provides a wealth of information not available with the naked eye, allowing you to see the world around you using your smartphone instead of having to perform web searches.
The technology powering Nokia City Lens is particularly advanced and accurate. We are capturing real world dimension, fueling more realistic and interactive experiences. It’s like having X-ray vision, revealing hidden spots you might otherwise miss.
Nokia City Lens comes preinstalled on Nokia smartphones with Windows Phone 8 and we are already busy working on the next release, which you can learn more in this previous blog post.
Image credit: Walt Stoneburner