By Harry McCracken | Friday, January 22, 2010 at 12:32 am
That Nokia event I liveblogged Thursday morning? The cryptic invitation made it look like it might involve some major new product, which it didn’t. But it did bring some good news: The company is bringing free GPS navigation–for drivers, pedestrians, and takers of public transportation–to users of its Symbian-based smartphones. The navigation offering covers 74 countries, and lets you download the necessary maps onto your phone so you don’t need a live Internet connection to route your trip–a particularly useful feature if you’re roaming in another country where you don’t have all-you-can-eat data.
The Symbian user interface still has some odd, outdated artifacts–you must scroll through lists with Windows-like scrollbars, not by merely swiping the list itself–but the OVI Maps application looks full-featured and fun. Pedestrians get some particularly nice features, such as shortcuts that drivers can’t take, and there are 3D models of landmarks.
The no-cost navigation is an obvious rejoinder to Google’s version of Google Maps for Android–as seen on the Droid and Nexus One–which also includes navigation with spoken turn-by-turn directions for free. Let’s hope everybody else in the smartphone biz feels like they need to match the Nokia and Google freebies…