With summer travel season in full swing, mapping and navigation apps are getting a big workout on many people’s smartphones. One bit of Windows Phone app news overshadowed by last week’s big Nokia Lumia 1020 unveil was that the company’s trio of free travel apps—HERE Drive, HERE Transit and HERE Maps—each received a nice update. More importantly, they’re also now available for all Windows Phone 8 smartphones.
On its blog, Nokia said last week that the apps got a face lift and, in several cases, some handy new features. The rundown:
HERE Drive now shows real-time traffic information around your area and adds a feature called My Commute, which provides the estimated travel time to the office right on the app’s Live Tile, so you know whether you have time to grab coffee or need to head out early. While you’re driving, My Commute continues to monitor traffic and lets you know if any unexpected hiccups have occurred or a better route is available. (Curious how real-time traffic works? The Nokia Conversations blog had an interesting behind-the-scenes post about it recently.)
HERE Drive+, the premium version of the app, also adds the ability to navigate in offline mode without a SIM card. HERE Drive+ is pre-loaded and available for free on select Nokia Lumias, and comes as a paid upgrade for other Windows Phone 8 models (more details here). HERE Drive+ is an especially good option for international travelers since the app has a global navigation license for all 95 supported countries.
HERE Maps adds transit station details and the ability to pause LiveSight augmented reality scenes for easier exploration.
HERE Transit combines schedules and route details for bus, train, subway, ferries and more in one handy place has been redesigned to make it easier to create and quickly access favorites.
I forgot to say, these are great apps regardless and the updates are awesome.
Here Transit really needs real-time transit information. I live in a big commuter area and two of the major methods are bus and rails, which both can easily run off-schedule.
Bring some Nokia phones over to Sprint please...not happy about HTC. I've had an HTC phone. It was a huge disappointment plus HTC support is horrible. They don't help and try to make you feel guilty when they have a faulty phone.
I find it important to add that MyCommute will only find the best route if you have driven it before twice end-to-end with the MyCommute app running. It is in no way integrated with the turn-by-turn navigation (you cannot switch away from MyCommute without loosing the statistics for your route). Basically, I find this feature is useful only if one is always driving between the exact same places, knows all routes, and has that app running all the time.