The new Nokia X family bring together popular Microsoft services like Skype, OneDrive and Outlook as well as the best of Nokia experiences – HERE Maps included.
We sat down with the HERE team to learn more about the HERE Maps experience on the Nokia X and how it all came to be.
Nokia’s HERE business was charged with creating the new location and navigation app for the Nokia X family, working from scratch and in a time-frame of less than twelve months.
Nonetheless, says Niko van Eeghen, HERE Maps for Nokia X product manager:
“We’ve managed to pull off a hell of a release. We’d say that, though it says it’s version 1.0, it’s more like a version 2.0 release in terms of functionality and polish.”
The team had high ambitions. Niko’s colleague Jens Klaus explains:
“For Nokia X we have brought the HERE Maps experience, with regular search, nearby search, and points of interest. We also have routing functionality for cars, pedestrians and transit. And there’s the in-car experience with voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation.”
Niko adds that the app offers online and offline functionality, with maps available for nearly 200 countries, and navigation available for 98 countries.
The experience is very smooth and Lumia-like. “Customers will be really surprised at the performance of HERE Maps on the Nokia X family,” says Niko with a smile.
“Compared to mapping and navigation solutions that draw their maps from online, it’s amazingly fast, because we store our maps offline.”
While the app is installed out of the box, the team decided not to preload the local country maps. “This way, we give customers the choice of which map, what regions and cities to install, and whether to install the map in the main storage memory or on a MicroSD card,” explains Jens.
The HERE Maps app also integrates with the device’s Fastlane feature. The HERE Maps shows up on Fastlane together with other apps you’ve recently launched. This way you can easily go back to your most recent locations and also get notifications for when updates are available to be downloaded for your offline maps. You can perform direct searches for locations on HERE Maps for Nokia X using the device’s global search. The app also integrates with contacts in the address book. If you’ve stored your friend’s address, you can click through to show a map and get directions.
But the HERE Maps application was not the only job for Niko’s team. They also had to power location services on other apps, creating API’s to allow developers to tap into HERE services for their own functionality. “When you share your location in WeChat, for example,” Niko explains, “the app uses our APIs to establish your location and our maps are shown when you share that location.” Developers can tap into the HERE API by downloading an SDK plug-in that makes it simple to switch from competing mapping services.
“It’s our ambition to provide a great experience for all mobile phone users,” Niko concludes.
More on this story on HERE Three Sixty.