Hands on with Nokia’s HERE Maps … You may want to take a detour

When Apple decided to try to pave its own road into the navigation apps market with Maps in iOS 6, it was assumed the Cupertino company would have something ready to go right at launch that would compare with the previous default option, Google Maps. What Apple ended up putting out into the world was an unfinished product with the direction-giving capabilities of a dementia patient. With a clear hole in the market to be filled, Nokia recently stepped up with it’s offering: HERE Maps.

Announcing its arrival with an all-caps name, as if one is to shout it out, HERE builds upon Nokia’s recent fascination with transportation. The Finnish phone maker has been working hard on different aspects of its navigation apps on the Windows Phone platform, and has balled that up into a mobile app and web-based client with HERE.  That combination of web and app access allows you to use the cloud to create and save collections of maps and destinations that you can then access anywhere through your HERE account. It’s a great way to keep track of interesting places you’ve come across during your travels. Unfortunately, though, the services pretty undistinguishable and HERE feels mostly like the browser service placed in the packaging of an app. This makes it a little less user friendly than one would expect, as taps and finger glides aren’t as responsive as mouse clicks and scrolls.

As a whole, the maps don’t look great. For the time being, there is no Google Street View-like option or anything equivalent to it either. A 3D view is on its way with Nokia’s recent acquisition of 3D mapping company Earthmine, but until then even Apple Maps has a leg up in that department. You can take a look at your local streets in four different ways: Map view, Satellite view, Public Transit view, and Live Traffic view. For the most part, they all function the way one would expect. Satellite view was a little slow and images from my city were at least a year or so old–as were some addresses.

hands on here maps you may want to take a detour img 0250

In general, the search service functioned and one can plug in general terms or specific locations and yield mostly accurate results. Just don’t expect them to be extremely up to date. I plugged in a restaurant in my area that relocated about 6 months ago and its old location still comes up. In comparison, Google Maps’ web client had updated information. Similarly, a grocery store that has been in town for several years now didn’t even register on a search, no matter how general or specific I made it. Nokia says HERE uses NAVTEQ mapping data, the same system that nearly all in-car GPS systems use, which makes one wonder just how good those things really are.

Also worth noting is that when you’re looking up information about a specific destination, reviews and ratings and provided by Trip Advisor. This comes with its pros and cons. On the plus side, Trip Advisor is a great service and also provides other nearby stops that may be worth your time while you’re in the area. However if you’d like to read anything past the first sentence of a review, you’ll be pushed out of HERE and into your web browser or into your Trip Advisor app. Either way, you’ll have to leave HERE just to get basic information.

hands on here maps you may want to take a detour img 0251

Public Transit view and Live Traffic view both appear to function in major cities. Even then, there are some areas in heavily populated locations where traffic data just seems to disappear. Transit data is sparse almost everywhere. There’s no bus data, even in cities like mine where the running times and stops are well documented and monitored. Places like San Francisco and Seattle had its rail systems included so some of these features do exist in specific cities, but as a whole it appears to be a work in progress. The app even warns users when the features are turned on that they are in beta.

Even without traffic or public transit available, one would assume that the streets would be easily navigable with the help of turn-by-turn voice directions. That would be a correct assumption to make, as long as you only plan on walking. Walking directions are currently the only mode where spoken navigation is available, which seems like the least useful place for it to be. It’s not like turns exactly sneak up on you while you’re walking. Turn-by-turn information is available for nearly every trip but if you need to spoken aloud, make sure to provide your own co-pilot.

HERE Maps probably shouldn’t be viewed as a finished product. There are some parts that are in place, some that are still coming to fruition, and some that are lacking completely. It’s a beta product, but Nokia pushed it out like a finished and polished app so it’s hard not to treat it as such. If you’re using Apple Maps, HERE Maps is not going to add any real clarity to your navigation experience. In fact, there are some areas where the service even trails Apple’s poorly received transport app. Nokia has proven itself to be more than capable of providing what it promises in its Windows Phone navigation apps. We’ll just have to wait for it all to filter into HERE Maps. The real fault is with Nokia, as it promised it was streets ahead and turned out to be attempting to tail the lead cars. HERE Maps functions, but just doesn’t live up to all the promise yet.

You can download HERE Maps for free in the Apple App Store.

Computing

Google tells lawmakers it allows other apps access to your Gmail

Google admitted to lawmakers in a letter that its privacy policy allows third-party apps access to the email messages of its 1.4 billion Gmail users. Google says the apps need the consent of users before access is granted.
Mobile

The best weather apps for Android will keep you dry no matter where you go

You may not be able to change the weather, but you can at least be prepared for it. Check out our guide to the best weather apps for Android, so you'll always know what to expect when you step out the front door.
Mobile

The best weather apps for the iPhone

Don't rely solely on your local meteorologist to stay up to date on the weather. Take matters into your own hands with one of these weather apps, each of which brings something unique to the table.
Mobile

Here’s how to use Apple’s augmented reality Measure app in iOS 12

Included within iOS 12, the Measure app uses Apple's ARKit to measure objects and spaces in the real world with your camera. Using the app, you can measure a piece of furniture, the distance between points, and more.
Mobile

Android 9.0 Pie is finally rolling out to the OnePlus 6

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.
Mobile

Keep the iPhone XS display crack-free with these screen protectors

Apple might have proclaimed the iPhone XS's glass as being its most durable ever, but that's not going to stop you from wincing if you drop your phone. Stay protected with the best iPhone XS screen protectors.
Mobile

Hateful software kills our enthusiasm for newcomer Realme’s $155 Android phone

Realme is a new smartphone brand with an interesting start to life, as it closely mirrors that of OnePlus, a brand we admire. The Realme 2 is its second phone, and we've given it a try to see if it's a winner.
Mobile

Apple iPhone XS Max vs. Huawei P20 Pro: Clash of the titans

Anyone seeking a great new smartphone with plenty of money to spend has two amazing options, but which is better for you? We pit the Apple iPhone XS Max vs. Huawei P20 Pro in various categories to help you choose.
Product Review

Don't let the bigger iPhones woo you away: The XS is still a masterpiece

Apple’s next smartphone is here -- the iPhone XS. We think it’s the perfect size for an iPhone, and it manages to impress with astounding performance, and sizable camera improvements.
Product Review

With its epic screen, Apple's iPhone XS Max is a phone you can live inside

The iPhone XS Max is here. Should you get the massive 6.5-inch iPhone from Apple? Or should you pick the smaller iPhone XS? We’ve been putting the Max through its paces to find out in our review.
Mobile

BlackBerry Key2 LE vs. BlackBerry Key2: Which productivity titan reigns supreme?

The Blackberry Key2 LE has many of the same features as its more expensive competitor, the BlackBerry Key2, yet comes in at $250 less. Which one should you choose? Here's how the BlackBerry Key2 LE and BlackBerry Key2 compare.
Mobile

Master your iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max with our favorite tips and tricks

If you're one of the lucky folks that managed to snag an iPhone XS or XS Max, you may be wondering how to use your new phone in a post-home button world. Here are a few of our favorite iPhone XS tips and tricks to get you started.
Mobile

How beneficial is ECG in the new Apple Watch? We asked an expert

The Apple Watch Series 4 is packed with features that make it the best smartwatch on the market, but just how valuable is the new ECG and heart-tracking functionality? We spoke to some experts to find out.
Mobile

The Google Pixel 3 smartphone may arrive dressed in pink

Forget the Pixel 2: Google will announce its latest flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, on October 9 in New York City and Paris. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.