Nokia HERE Maps vs. Apple Maps & Google Maps

Today Nokia revealed what they claim as the first location cloud to deliver the world’s best maps and location experiences across multiple screens and operating systems. Dubbed as HERE, its goal is to make the mobile experience more personally significant for people.

“People want great maps, and with HERE we can bring together Nokia’s location offering to deliver people a better way to explore, discover and share their world,” said Nokia President and CEO Stephen Elop. “Additionally, with HERE we can extend our 20 years of location expertise to new devices and operating systems that reach beyond Nokia. As a result, we believe that more people benefit from and contribute to our leading mapping and location service.”

Nokia has taken steps to reach out to more users. They launched an HTML5-based maps application for iOS under the HERE brand– inclusive of offline capabilities, voice-guided walk navigation, and public transport directions. You can download it off the App Store in the coming weeks.

Nokia also announced a partnership with Mozilla to bring HERE to Firefox OS, and it has plans of taking HERE to Android by providing Android OEMs with HERE SDKs sometime early 2013.

Mapping or having a good maps app on your mobile device is still one of the most important features consumers look for when purchasing a device.  So when Apple majorly screwed up their Maps on iOS 6, people started looking for alternatives.

Nokia looking to infiltrate iOS and Android devices with their 3D map offering, so let’s take a look at what they have to offer.

Nokia’s HERE

Availability: The app will be available on multiple platforms: iOS, Android, Mozilla, and Nokia’s platform.  Aside from that, an SDK for developers will be available so they can create Maps apps

Features: 3D capabilities, public transportation information, voice-guided navigation, offline maps, baked-in augmented reality

Highlight: HTML5-based so it will be supported in web browsers and in most devices. It is not restricted to a mobile app you have to download

Apple Maps

Availability: NOT cross-platform so Apple’s Apple’s ability to broaden its data input channels for faster improvements of its maps is limited.  Also, it is not available for developers, which means developers can’t tinker with it, incorporate it in their apps, or make apps based on the Apple Maps.

Features: Siri voice-guided navigation, interactive 3D views, Flyover feature, and offline availability.  It doesn’t have augmented reality and no public transportation date.

Highlight: Vector-based interface that scales and zooms with ease.

Google Maps

Availability: Available to developers for years and has a broader data set compared to Nokia and Apple.  Though it is not available as an iOS app, it is said to be in the works and iOS users can access it by using either the Safari or Chrome mobile browsers.  Both Google and Nokia must face the fact that Apple could ultimately deny both of their apps in their App Store.

Features: Offline access, 3D view, satellite view, Earth and more. No augmented reality, but this is really a discussion around contextualizing location data.  Google’s way ahead of Nokia with their long term vision to contextualize location data, incorporating it into personalized services such as Google Now, Google+ and Search.  We expect to see baked-in augmented reality with an upcoming Google product, Google Glass.

Highlights:  Offers the best data, along with personalized services.


Because Google is tenured when it comes to location and mapping services, they’re is still the best.  But Nokia’s clearly looking to leap ahead of Google with baked-in features like augmented reality, though this feature may have little bearing on the current market.  Until we see more use cases for augmented reality, it remains a novel perk that’s still in the process of becoming a standard aspect of location-oriented mobile interfaces.

The bummer for Google and Nokia, even if they deliver the best experience, is that Apple can reject their offerings in the end.  Apple is still a walled garden in many regards, and that’s limiting to end users in that they can’t access all the software they may like, and Apple’s ability to rapidly improve their own software could be hindered by blocking third-party integration.

Contributors: Mellisa Tolentino