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April 1, 2010

More to maps than meets the eye

Nokia-Sat-nav-Ovi-MapsGLOBAL – The response to free walk and drive navigation on Ovi Maps has been phenomenal. I’ve been giving it some thought over the past few days and despite the brilliant reporting on it all, there’s a couple of things which I think are pretty key, but don’t seem to have been noticed much, judging by what I’ve read.

The world changes pretty quickly and despite the obviously huge logistics involved, roads move around a bit. Old ones get abandoned, new ones get created. It wasn’t that long ago that the companies responsible for producing atlases managed this process by publishing new editions every year. Useful, until half way through the year a new section of road opened up. Sat nav, and digital mapping has evolved that notion, to some degree, with the ability to get maps updates on an ongoing basis. Up until recently though, that’s come at a price (over and above the cost of your navigation device). This week I wondered what the deal was with Ovi Maps so asked the Maps folks how they deal with maps updates. Regular updates, came the reply, about three or four times a year. Cost to the user? Free.

The last update came in December which means we’ll no doubt be seeing a new one before long (though we don’t comment or speculate on upcoming announcements, so don’t take that assumption as such). If you’re planning to head away for Easter, and haven’t updated your maps for a while, simply ditch the old map data from your device and update it with the latest maps from Ovi Suite or Map Loader. Pretty useful, don’t you think? What else would you like to see in Maps update?

Walking around strange cities can be an unnerving experience, specially if you’ve ever been spotted as a tourist and come close to being mugged (like myself and Mike have). The prospect then of walking around with my device in front of me looking at a map for navigation struck me as one way not to navigate around somewhere I don’t know.

Once again I looked into it and walking navigation using Ovi Maps actually comes in two flavours (no, I didn’t find this out until last week, and judging by those I asked, not many people actually knew). The first is the one mentioned above. When a turn comes up your device will vibrate and give you directions on screen. But the other sounds much more favourable.

Sitting comfortably (and safe) somewhere, simply plot your route and switch navigation on. Plug in your headphones and stick your phone in your pocket (or your bag). Then walk to your destination as if you’d walked the route 100 times, listening to the sound of your chosen satnav voice whispering sweet navigational directions in your ear as you go. Have you tried it yet? Let us know what you think below.

I might be stepping out from under a rock with these two little personal discoveries, but seeing as I hadn’t seen much written about them elsewhere, I thought I’d share. Now, let us know what you think.