Nokia crows about its maps amid Apple fiasco

Nokia seized on Apple's map app fiasco as an opportunity to tout the merits of the location services in its own Windows 8 smartphones.

Complaints about Apple's map app began emerging Thursday and the media had a field day publishing embarrassing omissions and mistakes in the program, such as the absence of Shakespeare's hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon, and the duplication of the Senkaku, or Diayu, islands that have been the source of a dispute between Japan and China. Apple's map app was even labeled "dangerous" by an Irish government official for labeling a 35-acre farm as an airport on one of its cartographic renderings.

In a company blog, Nokia published a number of location benchmarks to show how its Nokia Lumia 920 smartphone compares with competitors Samsung Galaxy S III and iPhone 5. Those metrics include:

  • Ability to work without a data connection. The Lumia 920 allows maps of entire countries to be downloaded and supports positioning, search, and routing in offline mode. The Galaxy S III supports downloading of maps, but they're limited to cities in selected areas, and search and routing are unsupported. The iPhone doesn't have offline support .
  • Turn By Turn Navigation. Nokia has it for more than 110 countries; Samsung, for 30; and Apple, 56.
  • Public Transportation. Nokia and Samsung support maps for more than 500 cities and urban areas; and Apple left public transportation data out of its map mix.
  • Traffic. Nokia supports traffic information in 26 countries; Samsung, 47; and Apple, 23.
  • 3D Information. Nokia uses a custom app, City Lens; Samsung uses Google Earth; and Apple uses Flyovers.
  • Street Orientation. Nokia combines data from its map app with City Lens to create an augmented reality street view; Samsung uses Google Street View; and Apple has no support of a street view in its map app.
  • Venue Maps. Nokia supports them for 38 countries; Samsung, four; and Apple, none.
Nokia's depiction of where mobile map services support voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation. At the top is a map of Nokia's coverage; Google's service is shown at bottom left and Apple, at the bottom right.

"[W]e have developed a compelling suite of applications that delivers the best location-based experiences—helping you to discover the world around you and navigate your life,"  wrote Pino Bonetti, a senior marketing communications manager for Nokia.

"Not only is this possible because the location business is strategic to Nokia, but because these apps are running on the world’s most advanced location platform," he said. "Unlike our competitors," he explained, "which are financing their location assets  with advertising or licensing mapping content from third parties, we completely own, build and distribute mapping content, platform and apps."

That's an indirect slap at Apple which is using a variety of vendors—including Microsoft—to supply data to its map app.

"We truly understand that maps and location-based apps must be accurate, provide the best quality, and be accessible basically anywhere," Bonetti added. "That’s been standard practice at Nokia for the past six years, and we also understand that 'pretty' isn’t enough."

Of course, iPhone 5 users who don't like Apple's maps can always view the old provider of maps to the iPhone, Google, through the Safari web browser. That experience, though, isn't as good as it was in the dedicated app found in earlier versions of iOS.

Viewing Google maps through Safari, though, may only need be a temporary fix for fans of that service. Just as Google introduced a YouTube app for iOS when Apple excluded the video sharing service from the latest version of the mobile operating system, it's expected the search giant will introduce a maps app for the platform soon.

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