When I first discovered Nokia Maps on my N95, I was a quite underwhelmed by it. The phone took an extremely long time to find satellites and pinpoint my position. By the time it had placed me on a map, my impatience had taken over and I’d reached for my traditional A-Z paper map. But Nokia Maps has improved considerably since the early versions; assisted GPS makes finding your position faster, and while pinpoint accuracy still takes longer than I’d like, I’m finding the service much more useful.
Recently on a trip to London I realised my best route across the city was via the tube, then by bus and then a brisk walk to my final destination. I’m not a regular traveller on London’s extensive bus network, but I found my N95 could help me. Imagine the scene: I got on the bus and then thought, “I’m on the right number bus, but am I going the right way?” My solution was to check my position on Nokia Maps, enter the destination and then look at the route the bus was taking. When the two matched up I was satisfied I was heading in the right direction. I also knew when I was close enough to get off and start walking.
After getting off the bus, the N95 was still helpful and guided me toward my destination. I was pleased with the experience — I’d certainly do it again.
As a long-time fan of TomTom devices, I think Nokia is now leading the way in personal navigation. I’m finding I use Nokia Maps more and more whenever I’m in unfamiliar surroundings. For me, getting to places on foot is starting to resemble driving my car with TomTom’s turn-by-turn navigation. It removes much of the stress caused by the uncertainty of being in unknown territory.
I still think a couple of things would improve Nokia Maps for me. Firstly, the phone should locate you in seconds, not minutes. I know there’s a limit to how quickly the technology will work, but the addition of assisted GPS to the N95’s firmware shows that improvements can be made.
Secondly, walking around with your head down looking at your mobile phone is not very sensible. You lose track of your surroundings, bump into things and step out into the road (I’ve almost been hit by a car and have walked into a cyclist). You also become an easy target for muggers.
I might have to invest in a navigation upgrade for Nokia Maps. The application would then give me turn-by-turn instructions, which I could listen to on a Bluetooth headset. Then I could look where I’m going. Before that, I’m going to check out the beta version of Nokia Maps 2.0, which has a special mode for pedestrians. Who knows, perhaps one day a Nokia phone will replace the TomTom in my car…
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