Thursday, May 22, 2008

Getting GPS and maps the easy way: Nokia Maps 1.0

This is the easiest way to get maps on a Nokia S60 and it's totally free if you turn off A-GPS and pre-load the maps.

If you don't have Nokia Maps on your phone already, you'll need to download Nokia Maps to your device. And if you want to pre-load the maps to your phone you'll been to download the Nokia Map Loader to your PC. You'll also need a USB data cable to pre-load maps. Both of them can be downloaded at:

Note: For S40 users, you can't added Nokia Maps to your phone. You must have it already included (pre-installed) in your phone's firmware. Some phones with Nokia Maps S40 support: Nokia 6300i, 6600 classic, 6600 slide, 3600 slide

If you intend to pre-load maps and want to avoid data charges like I do:
  1. Turn on Nokia Maps
  2. Go to: Options > Settings > Network
  3. Set "Use network" to "Never"

If you select the use data as needed option then it will prompt you for data access when you move to a location you don't have a map for.

Pre-Loading the Maps through your PC:
  1. Connect your phone to your your PC
  2. Set your phone to Data Transfer
  3. Launch Nokia Maps Loader
  4. The only instructions you'll be getting:

    Click the button at the bottom
  5. The Nokia Map Loader window will open:
  6. Click on the > to expand and drill down to the map you want
  7. Click + to download the map. So clicking + beside America will download all maps for North and South America so that includes Canada and the United States.
  8. The right pane under "Selection" shows what you've selected for download and install to your phone.
  9. Click download.

Note: You can delete all the maps from your phone by clicking "Delete maps from storage".

Nokia Maps loads map cumulative so you don't have to reload maps you already have on your phone, it will merely add maps to the ones you already have. But you can't see which maps you have installed on your phone via Nokia Map Loader. To remove the maps you don't want any more, for those moments you need to free up space on your memory card, you need to delete all maps on your phone and re-load the maps you need.

If you're planning a long road trip, you will need to obtain maps to every state/province you plan to drive through or Nokia Maps will not be able to provide directions. Garmin provides a base map with major roads by default so specific state/province maps are not required.

Let's disconnect your phone from your PC and launch Nokia Maps.

Before your phone gets a GPS lock, you're greeted by a globe. If you're willing to pay for data, you can speed up the GPS lock by enabling assisted GPS (A-GPS) by going out of Nokia Maps to the phone menu, click Tools > Settings > General > Positioning and enabling Assisted GPS. I personally keep this off since I roam a lot.

When your phone has acquired a GPS lock, Nokia Maps will zoom into your location. You can return to your location at any time by hitting '0' on your keypad. The look of the map is clean.

Too bad the 3D view doesn't differ much from the 2D since the viewing angle difference is so insignificant.

Moving around the map with the d-pad is smooth and there are no loading or "drawing" delays commonly seen on low end GPS devices.

Video of browsing maps in Nokia Maps 1.0:

With Options you will find the following:
-- Find
---- GPS location
---- Address (type out the full address)
---- keyword search (if you know the name of a place and you're lucky it's listed as a POI, this is the fastest way to find something)
---- Nearby
---- Guides
---- Recent
---- Landmarks (special POIs)
-- Use this place
---- Search nearby
---- Route from
---- Route to
---- Navigate to
---- Send
-- Extra Services (purchase Guides or navigation)
-- Map Options (Zooming, 2D/3D, Categories (choosing which POI types appear on the map), Change map colours (switch between brighter day to dimer night mode map colours), and Satellite Info (which is my favorite feature of Nokia Maps and I describe later)

I'm glad Nokia added the shortcuts for each of the functions in brackets such as zooming in and out. The more I see the shortcut the better I remember them.

Using route to, route from, and navigation you can have Nokia Maps calculate the "best" path from the start point to the end point. "Best" path is determined by the criteria you set in Options > Settings > Routing. Here you can avoid things like Ferry, Tunnel, and Toll road. There are many cases where "fastest" route is not the fastest as traffic is not factored and sometimes creates routes with a lot of turns.

With navigation, much of the screen real estate is spent on icons and text, you don't see much of the map:

Without paying you won't get voice turn by turn navigation but you will get navigation simulation and a limited navigation through Options > Use this place > Navigate to. I was watching the navigation simulation for a while and I got really bored so I doubt anyone without patience, like me, would use it.

Video of Navigation Simulation in Nokia Maps 1.0:

A very valuable feature of map software are its points of interest (POI). I find myself frequently pulling out my phone to look up the closest parking lot or gas station by the airport and it's nice to be able to do that within the GPS software so I can easily have it calculate a route without re-entering the information.

A few points of interest are included with the maps but accuracy is questionable. For example, there is a McDonald's and Wendy's by my place that have been there for a couple years, McDonald's shows up and Wendy's does not while a Boston Market appears on the map but no longer exists in real life. If you want more POI you can purchase guides but I think it's risky given the included POI are hit or miss. Of the points of interest included, you can hover over the icons on the maps and when the cursor locks onto the icon you can click Option > Show Detail.

It's not pretty. If you want to call the place, you need to have to go back to Option > Call. You don't see the number you're calling until you make the call.

If you have screen rotation on your phone like the N82 and N95 (new firmware only) then you can rotate the screen to get it in portrait mode. I personally prefer letter mode since you can see further ahead instead of to the sides.

One of my favorite features in Nokia Maps is the ability to monitor the GPS lock on.

Go to: Options > Map options > Satellite Info

Here you will see how many satellites your GPS has connected to. The bars will fluctuate with various lengths. The longer the bar the closer to a position lock. You need 4 satellites to get the initial GPS lock but only 3 satellites to maintain a GPS lock.

Nokia Maps come with most S60 phones and it's very convenient that maps are free and accessible through the air as well as pre-loading via PC. Nokia Maps shines in its presentation and easy to navigate map. Nokia Maps stumbles with its numerous routing options, weak POI, and limited usefulness of the 3D view. Nokia did a very good job in its first version and most users will find everything they need in Nokia Maps. Power users will likely look elsewhere for maps with better POI. I found Nokia Maps only useful for walking around and having it tell me where i am. It's good for exploring the area around me since moving around the map is fast, smooth, and I didn't buy navigation.


Friedel said...

Nice summary, thanks for that.

Anonymous said...

Nice work. I appreciate the guidance for this app. I kept getting confused until I realized you'd switched your reference regarding portrait and "letter mode." I'm a photographer and I used to do lots of book publishing, too.
Portraits are vertical. Horizonal orientation is called "Landscape" unless you're talking about wide-screen movies on TV, which is called "Letter-box" because the shape resembles the slot in a mail-box or a British Letter-box.
I think that may come in handy for you another time. Keep up the good work. I really appreciate your time and effort; it helps.