HERE Maps' IOS App Will Challenge Your Google Maps Loyalty

HERE Maps' iOS App Will Challenge Your Google Maps Loyalty

Here Maps, finally loosed from the confines of Windows Phone, has been trickling out on other mobile operating systems for the last few months. First Samsung, then Android. Now, iOS finally gets this scrappy underdog in the maps app fight against Google Maps.

HERE Maps claim to fame is its awesome offline maps, so you can make sure you're not completely lost without an internet connection. If you tried the old HERE Maps years ago and hated it, make note — this is not the same app. The HERE team admits in a blog post that the old busted app was based on HTML5, which was its ultimate downfall. This new app is completely redesigned and has every navigation feature you could need.

As of this post, the HERE team says they're having some iTunes uploading issues, but the app should be in the store soon. Go ahead, give it a try. [Nokia via Engadget]

HERE Maps Beta Will Challenge Your Google Maps Loyalty

Some apps are just the undisputed best at what they do. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Vine — these are apps that have hardly any fear of competition. I'd even be comfortable putting Google Maps in that esteemed category, if it wasn't for Nokia's Here Maps.

Today, Nokia officially announced Here Beta for Android with promises of an iOS version for Spring 2015. The long-time and beloved GPS map choice for Windows Phone, Here Maps became untethered from the platform during Microsoft's acquisition last year. The Maps Beta first premiered on Samsung devices earlier this year, then sideloading became an option, and now you can just straight download from Google Play.

But can Here Beta really replace Google Maps, the uncontested (sorry Apple Maps) GPS champion? In some ways yes and in other ways no, but regardless, this free app is worth the test drive.

Design

HERE Maps Beta Will Challenge Your Google Maps Loyalty

In many respects, Here Beta and Google Maps take similar approaches in design and layout. Search bar on top, hamburger menu button on the right, with your GPS marker front-and-center. However, from this opening menu, you can quickly see where Google holds an edge over Here Beta. For one, integrated voice search from the top menu, which Here Beta is sorely lacking. Also, an in-depth discovery function for finding out more about places around you, whether restaurants, parks, or museums. Replicating Google's talent for search is not something easily replicated.

As for pure design aesthetics, both hang tough with one another. Google gets a nice bump from its Lollipop redesign, but Here Beta uses neon blues and greens to make GPS markers and destinations pop from the surrounding street names, restaurants, and other landmarks.

Directions

HERE Maps Beta Will Challenge Your Google Maps Loyalty

Obviously, directions is a big one. It's the whole reason you're using the app in the first place, and Google Maps and Here Beta are neck-in-neck. Each have their own little quirks that might appeal to different users. Google Maps has bike-friendly directions as well as a "fuck it, I give up" option that directs you to Uber.

Here Beta does a need little trick where it creates a running timeline of your trip. So if a train leaves at a certain time, a running timeline lets you know how early (or late) you're about to be. Also, you can set speed limit warnings for your trip, and Here Beta will warn you when you're significantly over (between 0 mph to 18 mph). Perfect for avoiding speed traps and getting caught off guard by random speed limit changes.

Other than that, the two are completely the same. Similar direction suggests with traffic updates, adjustable routes, and voice-assisted navigation (available in several different languages).

Offline Maps

Where Here Beta wins big is with offline maps. Right in the settings menu, click "Download maps" and select whatever state, country, or continent you desire. Obviously these maps will take up some memory on your smartphone, but they're a godsend if you're stuck underground with no internet connection and no idea where you're going or if you're travelling abroad and unwilling to rack up roaming charges.

For example, downloading maps for one state takes up about 400MB or you can download the entire United States for almost 5GB. This lets you use maps and navigation without any data connection at all. Google offers a similar function though it's pretty buried and less useful than what Here Beta offers.

A New Challenger Approaches

Is Here Maps better or worse than Google Maps? The answer is neither. It's a breath of fresh air, a free app the helps change up the monotony of your single GPS map existence. Here Beta brings a lot of neat extras and could be the perfect navigation app for a lot of people, especially if you find yourself switching among hardware platforms since Here Beta stretches across Android, Windows Phone, and soon iOS.

In the end, you're choosing among two excellent choices. One just might edge out the other in a way that matters to you most. [Google Play]


Comments

    The killer feature is that you can do search on offline maps, and turn-by-turn voice navigation offline.

    It is a very decent application in my opinion. I prefer it over google maps when traveling abroad (I do not want to buy a new sim card).

    Love Here maps, the only bad things I've ever heard about it are Japan and the USA, the rest of the world it seems to get better reviews than Google maps. Can you change the default mapping on Android (Without rooting and hacking)? Default Here is one of the things keeping me loyal to Windows Phone.

    Last edited 11/12/14 8:37 am

      Yes you can. As soon as you download a new mapping app, the next time you do a search in google now for a location and wish to start navigation, it will prompt you to make a selection on which app you want to use to complete the action. At that point you can also select whether to make your choice permanent or just a once off so each time you want to navigate, you are always prompted with all your navigation app options. Aah the beauty of Android.

    Comparison between Here BETA and Google Maps version xxxx?

    Considering that even the author considers them neck-in-neck, while the Here maps are only BETA and that their maps are used by big GPS brands while Google Maps not, I think it would be safe to hay that Here Maps is far more superior to Google Maps, but it is just my opinion.

    The only feature that I like over the new Gmaps is the offline ability.

    I can't see why google can't have a download offline fature.

      They can, but they don't want to, because they will lose monitoring you!

        Unless you have location services turned on still.

      They do. I downloaded Melbourne when I traveled over there a few years ago.

        Things have changed, they have since nuked that feature. It's still there, just not as useful anymore.

          What parts have been nuked? It's either offline or not isn't it?

            You can only save your journey offline now. You cant draw a box around where you want saved anymore, like before.

              Google does indeed offer offline maps. Not just journey but an entire region which you set the size of. If you don't know how to use it, best not to comment. If HERE Beta's only advantage is offline maps, then Google Maps does this too so....

                CAn you then explain how to make that works then. Because i'd love to know how.

                Have you used that functionality much Mr Biscuit? You say entire region, it's more like a small area. My last trip down south of western australia meant I needed to save more than a dozen individual areas in order to cover my whole journey. There is no menu button to do this, you have to type OK Maps into the search bar each time. The maximum area you can cache is not shown at all you just have to zoom out until the area is too large, then zoom in until it says it is OK to cache. The whole method is pretty ridiculous and poorly implemented. Maybe useful for a small journey but it does not compare to the ability to just down a state and be done with it. This puts HERE way in front of Gmaps in that respect.

                Last edited 11/12/14 4:04 pm

    Downside to HERE maps: can't tap and swipe up/down to zoom.

    Google maps was the best when apple sucked. But they're on par now for most things and apple trumps with pop out street names u can actually read at driving distance.

    Personally, it's not loyalty that I stay with Google maps. It's just that Google maps does what I need and I don't need maps very often, so why would I even bother changing?

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