Skip to main content

– Ever since the new-look Nokia Maps was unveiled last Tuesday, we’ve been playing around with the new features. If we’re not taking a 3D look at the new cities, we’re zooming into different places to see where the local hotspots are by using the heat maps. Want to know more about how these features work? Then read on.

Nokia Maps 3D

Nokia Maps has been a great service offered by Nokia for a couple of years now. We’ve seen it grow from an on-device service to one that now works on the Web. As good as Nokia Maps is, it’s the new feature that’s blowing people’s minds. Nokia Maps 3D shows you the world in a full 360º perspective – or at least certain cities of the world, for now.

In order to capture the images of a city, specialised camera equipment takes an image a second of the same object, up to 100 times, each at a different angle. It’s at this point the images are automatically joined together to form the 3D object by clever image processing software and those images in turn are joined to the previous image resulting in a seamless tapestry of 3D mapping-goodness.

There are currently 23 cities that have been turned into 3D models with a plan to create 3D representations of everywhere in the world. The practicalities of this can prove difficult, though, particularly with local laws which might prevent our cameras from flying overhead.

Here’s two images of a 3D Buckingham Palace in London with a north view and a south view – Select the images for a close-up.

Heat Maps

Heat maps on Nokia Maps works for one reason, and that’s down to the Points of Interest (POI) that are stored on the Ovi Places directory. Let’s say you want to go out in London for the night, but you’re not sure where the buzz is, or where’s popular. The heat map is an overlay that shows you a darker red colour for more popular – or POI dense – places, with the orange and yellow colours representing the less dense places. Somewhere still exciting, but maybe more intimate and secluded.

In order to achieve this visualisation and not have every single POI on the map, Nokia selected some of the premium POIs. This is due to the fact that people can add their own public place to the map which saves to the directory, and we wouldn’t want to spend the day visiting other people’s houses or offices, would we? The premium POIs are provided from services, such as Lonely Planet, WCities and Michelin to name a few, and these bring reviews and some great photos, too. So you know what to expect before you set off out on your travel to the hotspot.

As the POIs are constantly being updated to add more great restaurants, bars, sight-seeing spots or shopping outlets, this heat map will evolve over time, too. So we’ll expect to see this feature to continually grow and evolve and maybe even see the hotspots shift, slightly.

Here’s what the London Explore local sights heat map looks like with one of the photos selected – Click the image to zoom in and for more details.

You can see there’s the option to expand the window so you can see more details of that place, along with the address and some other options, too, such as share, directions and even a star rating.

What’s your favourite feature of the new and improved Nokia Maps? Have you used the heat maps yet for ideas of where to go? Let us know, below.