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Nokia’s HERE Maps app arrives on iOS to fill the hole left by Google Maps

HERE Maps iOSNokia revealed its HERE Maps app and associated HTML5 website at an event in San Francisco last week, where it made a big deal of its compatibility with the forthcoming Firefox OS, plus its impending release in the iTunes App Store, Google Play and the Windows Phone Store.

Today it has arrived in the first of those stores and unsurprisingly, it’s the iTunes App Store. It’s not hard to figure out why either, as Nokia already has a presence on – in its mind – the only Windows Phone handsets that count, it’s Lumias, plus Google Maps has Android all sewn up too.

Apple has had a bad year when it comes to mapping software, following the release of its almost universally hated Apple Maps, and the more recent departure of Scott Forstall, one of the men responsible for creating it. Nokia knows now is the time to capitalize on Apple’s misfortune, and has released the app for free.

It’s universal too, so it’s at home on both your iPhone and your iPad, plus Nokia has ensured it has been designed with the iPhone 5’s 4-inch screen in mind. You can switch between the traditional map view to using a satellite view, or one showing public transport routes and live traffic information.

The traffic information depends on your location, as it’s not available everywhere, and the points-of-interest data is also a little patchy for the same reason. We’d expect Nokia to be updating the app regularly too.

Voice guidance

While driving and public transport routes can be calculated and followed, only walking gets you voice guidance. A helpful addition is the chance to download sections of map for offline use, something that can be done with a user-definable level of detail.

Nokia’s HERE Maps covers almost 200 countries, and has the option of switching to open source maps rather than using the NAVTEQ maps the app is based upon.

When Apple Maps released with iOS 6, it wasn’t quite ready for public use. While it has been steadily improving, HERE Maps has several key features – most notably the public transport routes – that should make it a welcome alternative for those frustrated by Apple Maps’ shortcomings. Nokia’s HERE Maps are also available online, and you can read our early impressions on the site here.

HERE Maps may be the map app of the moment, but its time in the limelight may be short lived, as rumors continue to spread regarding Google Maps’ imminent arrival inside the iTunes App Store. While these have been around ever since its removal from iOS 6, talk of early versions being circulated outside of Google came along last week, although Google still hasn’t admitted such an app is being developed.