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Nokia’s Ovi Maps moves to 3.06 beta

In a move designed to pit Nokia head-to-head with Google, the Finnish phone company touted the new beta of Ovi Maps as the best mapping and route planning experience available.

In addition to regular driving directions, the new beta offers a pedestrian route planning with public transport data for 80 cities around the world. While subways, trains, and trams are included, buses are not. Live traffic information is available for drivers using the new Drive Assistance mode. When driving, users receive safety camera alerts and speed limit warnings.

Nokia worked extensively on the 3.06 beta, improving the user interface,  refreshing icons, and including personalization options. There are new place pages with descriptions, reviews, pictures, and places nearby. Users can view reviews and rate local businesses, share with friends via SMS or e-mail, and comment via a Twitter integration. Sharing a place sends a message with the place’s address and a link to a page with description, ratings, contact info, and a map.

The search functionality has been improved to use place names and keywords. It also offers suggestions and “did you mean?” results. Users can also “check-in” Foursquare-style to let everyone (and Web stalkers) know where they are.

As a phone company, Nokia’s increasing emphasis on Internet services seem like a distraction from its core service. However, as users increasingly use mobile phones to do other things than just making phone calls, Nokia needs to start thinking on a broader scale.

Despite all the management chatter leading up to Nokia World, the popular phone manufacturer has kept the mood upbeat and positive with a stream of new Internet services and Symbian ^3 smartphones.

Nokia also unveiled its second touch and type phone, the Nokia C3 Touch and Type, which combines of a touch screen and traditional phone keypad. Priced at approximately EUR 145, it will be available later this year.

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