While the iPhone is clearly the media darling of mobile devices in the US, there’s no denying that Nokia’s handsets have saturated the global market. As part of that global strategy, the company just announced free walk and drive navigation for 74 countries in 46 languages. Today’s release of the third iteration of Ovi Maps is similar to Google’s maps for Android in that the service offers free turn-by-turn voice guidance. Nevertheless, there’s one important catch – maps are cached offline for future use. ReadWriteWeb caught up with Nokia’s VP of product and location, Christof Hellmis, for a look at how the company is saving device owners precious battery life.
Since 2008 Nokia has acquired at least 12 companies, including location-based services like Plazes, Dopplr and Navteq. Hellmis explains that the Navteq acquisition allows Nokia to utilize hybrid vector map technology rather than the more data intensive bitmaps used by other providers.
Says Hellmis, “That’s one of the advantages of developing from a mobile device background. We’re aware of the consumer’s resources. You don’t wait to download your maps on a wireless connection and you don’t need a sim card. You’ve got the entire world in your pocket rather than on a server.”This sort of functionality is particularly useful for those who travel frequently and are used to suffering from high data connection costs and unstable network coverage. The service also includes information on safety cameras, speed warnings and pedestrian shortcuts, in addition to 6,000 3D landmarks.
Ovi Maps’ voice navigation is immediately available for download on 10 handsets including the Nokia N97 mini, Nokia 5800 XpressMusic and Nokia E72 at nokia.com/maps. Additional phones will be added in the coming months. The fact that Nokia’s handsets account for 51% (83 million) of the total number of GPS-enabled devices shipped last year, means that the company may quickly be the world’s largest navigation services provider.