Maps and the importance of offline
By Pino Bonetti, Jun 7, 2012
Since we first introduced navigation on our smartphones, we’ve been taking offline maps very seriously. That is why we have been using vector maps since 2006. For smartphones to become the ideal personal navigation device that never leaves your side, they have to work with preloaded maps and completely offline.
Offline user experience
Offline maps are at the core of our navigation offering (with Nokia Drive) and we have been developing the perfect know-how over the past six years. Offering offline maps is not only about giving the option to cache some data offline for later use, it’s a complete experience.
Maps are either preloaded on the smartphone to offer a great out-of-the-box experience or people are taken through an easy first-use process to make their favourite countries and regions available offline. This provides an easy way to manage your offline maps that you can always go back to, regardless of service provider coverage.
An offline experience is not only about street maps, it’s also about offline available points of interest (POIs) to enable offline search, it’s about navigation voices (over 70 of them, btw) available on-device and offline rerouting.
Size does matter
And where do offline maps actually go? They are locally saved on your device, the memory usage of which you are probably very protective, and rightly so. That’s why we are giving you complete flexibility and not limiting you to a 10 square mile radius. You can download an entire country (e.g. USA for 1.8 GB, China for 862 Mb, UK for 203 MB) or specific regions (e.g. California for 147 MB, England for 166 MB, Beijing for 63 MB): just like having a shopping list.
Numbers don’t lie
So now you have all these shiny maps stored offline and you are ready to go. What will you do with them? Most probably you are going to put your smartphone in your car and start navigating. In your home city, in your country or abroad for vacation. It would be a shame to travel somewhere and discover you couldn’t do much with the offline maps because no navigation instructions were available. This is why our voice guided turn-by-turn navigation is not only available for 1, 2 or 29 countries; it is available for over 110 countries.
But the question remains, who can actually take advantage of offline maps? Nokia Drive with a full offline experience is available for Nokia Lumia, Nokia N9 and Nokia Belle smartphones. Even the Nokia N95, introduced in 2007 has offline navigation. And if you think offline maps are only a feature for premium smartphones, think again.
Many of our Asha phones also come with preloaded maps and preloaded POIs to make sure location-based services are affordable for people in emerging countries. We also haven’t forgotten about those out there using iOS and Android devices: they can visit maps.nokia.com from their mobile browser and discover they could have had cached maps available offline since last year.