Affordable phones like the Nokia Asha 205 have come a long way over the past few years, with Nokia Nearby as a good example of one of the excellent features now on offer. Although the Nokia Asha 205 doesn’t have an integrated GPS chip, Nokia has still managed to take advantage of its mapping expertise, making it possible to check out all the exciting and useful landmarks in your area with Nokia Nearby. What’s it actually like to live with though? I’ve spent the past month trying it out.
Nokia Nearby is part of Nokia’s Web Apps collection, so you’ll be able to use it on any Asha device providing you have an Internet connection. Open Nearby, and it looks like most other apps on the Asha – simple, intuitive and easy to use. Starting the app gives you a license agreement, and then asks if the phone can use your current location. It gleans your approximate location using network triangulation.
The main menu consists of four options: Search, Eat and drink, Shopping and Going out. There’s a large ‘back’ button at the top right of the app, so it’s always easy to make your way back to the previous screen if you press the wrong button or can’t find what you’re looking for.
Nokia Nearby isn’t just about these four options though – click on ‘More’ and you’ll be given comprehensive choice: Favourites, ATMs, Hotels, Tourism, Leisure and sports, Transport – all the points of interest (POI) you tend to find on a fully-fledged sat-nav device.
Clicking on a location will give you lots of different details, from the postcode to phone numbers and user ratings. From the places I’d actually visited, I found the ratings fair and accurate, so wouldn’t have any qualms about following them for new destinations – whether it’s a pub, restaurant or shopping centre.
Nokia has made a name for itself when it comes to mapping though, and you’ll still find maps included on Nokia Nearby. There’s an overview of the entire area when you first click on map, but you can also zoom in to find the exact location.
So what’s it like to actually use Nokia Nearby? If you’re accustomed to using a Nokia Lumia and Nokia Drive, you’ll miss the turn-by-turn navigation, but that’s not what Nokia Nearby is about.
Instead, it’s a quick and easy app for finding points of interest in the vicinity, and used as such it’s actually very good. I particularly liked the fact that all the key features are covered; when I look for points of interest generally, it tends to be for more vital services and destinations rather than fun – petrol stations, banks, somewhere where I can grab a bite to eat at a late hour.
Nokia Nearby is great for this, in addition to covering more light-hearted points of interest, and it comes in especially useful when you’re in unfamiliar territory. The service isn’t quite as quick as Nokia’s other mapping apps – on the Asha 205, data is downloaded as and when you need it, rather than full maps being stored on the device itself – but it’s still easily fast enough to use on a regular basis.
Nokia Nearby is also useful when you’re in your home town; you can easily add favourites and take advantage of the contact details of restaurants and pubs you visit a lot, along with sharing details of your location with your friends, making it easy to meet up with people when you’re out and about.
Coming from Nokia Lumia and as a heavy Nokia Drive user, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the Nokia Asha 205 and Nokia Nearby. It turns out to be an incredibly handy app to have. Whenever you’re visiting friends, on holiday, on a business trip or simply in a strange part of town, it’s always easy to find somewhere to get money, somewhere to eat or even somewhere to sleep. It’s also easy to find just about anything else in town.