Nokia Drive+ Beta now available for Windows Phone 8
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Nokia Drive+ Beta now available for Windows Phone 8

Yesterday we did an extensive run through of Nokia Maps 3.0 on Windows Phone 8, and now the underlying maps platform has been enhanced it has picked up some nice new features. Today we see the arrival of the Beta version of Nokia Drive+

Drive+ picks up some nice additions that we’re sure many existing Nokia Drive users will really appreciate, chief amongst them is the ability to fine tune how you want your journey to be planned and improved multitasking. We take a good look at what's new.

Interestingly this version of Drive has a version number of 2.0, interesting because Nokia Drive on Windows Phone 7 devices are now at version 3.0. In fact, Nokia have completely re-written Drive to take full advantage of the new OS.

The main feature many will be pleased to see in Drive is the ability to carefully tailor your journey. In use when you set your destination you’ll be presented with a strip between your map and the destination details. If you click that row of icons you can now choose to allow or ignore certain routing paths.

Here is what you can now choose from

Smart Routing

  • Faster Route
  • Shorter Route
  • Economical Route

Ways to go

  • Motorways
  • Toll Roads
  • Ferries
  • Tunnels
  • Unpaved Roads
  • Motor Rail Trains

Video demo of how it looks for your viewing pleasures... 

Map performance

The next big change from Windows Phone 7 devices running Nokia Drive 3 is that the maps are now incredibly smooth, the screen updates with a very high frame rate so it all whizzes along like a healthy clip. This, like Nokia Maps we saw yesterday, is attributable to the platform enhancements that Nokia and Microsoft have worked to bring to Windows Phone 8.

Multitasking

This one caught me by surprise in testing at my desk, I navigated to another app and while carrying out another task the directions continued to chime. That’s right folks, Nokia Drive on Windows Phone 8 now multitasks in the background. It will continue to give you directions, as long as you’re not in a call or using the voice dictation features. I have been out this morning to test this and can confirm it works as you’d expect. The only thing I missed was being able to see the directions on screen, just for confirmation. This improves how it worked before where it would need to be resumed after navigating away.

Also when listening to music over my hands free kit in the car I found the muting of the music to give direction prompts much better than before. On Nokia Drive 3.0 on Windows Phone 7 the volume of the announcements was almost double that of the Music so it was impossible to set the correct overall volume in the car leading me to doing one or the other.

Some clarification about Nokia Drive

Nokia Drive+ or Nokia Drive?

What is Nokia Drive plus? On Nokia smartphones running Windows Phone 8 it will be labelled as Nokia Drive+ while on other Windows Phone 8 devices it will simply be called Nokia Drive. We do not know when the Nokia Drive app will be available for other Windows Phone 8 devices but as soon as we know, we’ll do a post. 

Sounding off

This is certainly not a review of Nokia Drive+ as it's still in beta form but initial first impressions are this is a great improvement over what we had on Windows Phone 7. Notably the app continuing to give directions as a background task. We’re beginning to see the first sightings of the real benefits that we were promised with Windows Phone 8. The platform upgrade is going to significantly change how we use our devices. Drive is still in Beta and we’re assured that both “My Commute” and synced favourites are coming to Drive soon. We can’t wait.

Grag it from the Windows Phone Store

QR: Nokia Drive Plus

Liking what you see or still feeling like there’s something missing? We’re always keen to hear from you guys and where possible I’ll try and answer any questions you have in the comments bellow..

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Reader comments

Nokia Drive+ Beta now available for Windows Phone 8

64 Comments

Exactly, I would like to see integration with the music player while you are taking your trip. Integration with nokia maps and when music is play I would like the volume to decrease when your turn is coming up so that it can be properly heard. Like TomTom on iOS...

Yes, spoken street names should have been a 1.0 feature. Also, it needs to have an option to pause the background audio during directions. Turning down music volume is all well and good, but it doesn't cut it for audiobooks, and you get this sort of thing: "...at last, I can reveal that the murderer is TURN LEFT IN 300 METERS so now you know; let us never speak his name again."

Actually, it speaks street names just fine as long as you've selected a "voice" that is computer generated. By default it's using a recorded voice so that can't "read" street names. Just go into the settings and change the voice, download a male or female computer voice in the language of your choice and you'll get what you're looking for - it works really well on my 920.

+1

I can't believe in this day and age Nokia can't be bothered to implement street names.   "Turn left in 100 yards" means nothing to me in dense urban areas.   First of all, it's usually inaccurate enough that 100 yards means either 10 feet or 1,000 feet which could be one of 3 roads.   And secondly it means you have to take your eyes off the road to look at the street name yourself which is dangerous.

Especially since Microsoft already has an easily accessible API for at least offering it when you have a data connection: http://www.codeproject.com/Articles/259727/Text-to-speech-in-windows-phone7

 

Gah, so many things on WP8 that seem better and faster. I would really love it if Nokia allowed any current Lumia 900 owners to buy the 920 at the normal upgrade cost. I'd drop the money for that, and I feel like that'd appease anyone that was pissed about the lack of of an upgrade to WP8.
 
Unlikely, I know, but a fella can dream, can't he?

Your not stuck, sell it on eBay if you have taken good care of it and get you a couple of hundred for it and then buy the 920 for around 250.00 -300.00 with the difference outright. If thats too much money then you are stuck till 2014.

I would be happy with any sort of discount from full retail, like maybe $100 more than regular subsidized pricing. I think $250 is more than reasonable for the 920.

Funny, I've actually learned to appreciate that directions on WP7 won't consume battery if you switch to the home screen. How about if you turn the device "off" (press the power button) does it continue announcing directions?

Only been a few days but the Lumia 920 in white seems to have escaped much in the way of scratches, its not getting thrown about much though.. RB

Dan mentioned the blacks wasnt as good (screen) as amoled, Im a bit worried, I love my amoled on my samsung.
How much does it differ from say L800? Its really hard to tell from the youtube-vids but it looks pretty dark?

I've had a white Lumia since before public launch and have no case and it has held up amazing. No scratches apart from on the chrome camera surround.

Nokia Drive is available to all phones, when it will come to non-nokia devices is another thing. We dont know yet. My advice, if you want drive, get a Nokia or wait until its available for your device before buying. RB

It will be made available to other OEMs doesn't mean that they will include it. HTC has their own nav app that they try to sell. I'm sure this is a licensing offer from Nokia to the others, but it is up to them to take it. At least that is ny understanding of the situation.

IF it comes to all phones. The fact that Nokia is "making it available" to other OEMs has never, ever implied that they'd offer it, and this was clear from day 1 on the Nokia Conversations announcements. Stop making it sound as if this is a done deal. It's not, and my bet is that it never happens.

What's confusing to me is if Nokia is making it available for ALL OEM's, meaning ALL Windows Phone Devices then why not just put it in the App Store? That way HTC doesn't have any say so over the GPS software and all customers are happy? 

Does the app give you the option to (or even better, automatically) reroute in the middle of a route based on traffic conditions?  It's not an option in the current version, and it's caused me a great deal of trouble in the past.

I have a two item wish list for Drive. One would seemingly be ez, the other more involved:
1. I'd like to be able to view the whole route in a text list of directions.
2. If they could use traffic data (sensor and crowd sourced) to reroute on the fly, like Waze, it would be amazing.

There should be a comparison between
 
A dedicated GPS unit vs. Nokia Drive vs. Google Android Map vs. Apple Map
 
 

Robert, will a phone call interrupt navigation instructions? Major Nelson (of Xbox fame) said a phone call made him miss a turn while using a cell phone for navigation and he switched to a standalone GPS from that point on. Not sure what phone he was using, though.

Uh, Can you please show us how navigation mode looks like in landscape? Who uses nav in portrait. I would like to see how it looks like in landscape mode while navigating and also if the windows phone pop up notification bar is blocked by the navigation hud that shows speed and next turn. I sure would appreciate it as i use my phone for navigation and i get calls at the same time. Thanks.

This is all good and stuff but doesn't mean much unless we have the phones or at least know officially when we can buy them.  AT&T, Nok and MS = WTH are you waiting for????  A friend of mine had an old phone that finally died and he was itching for this Phone and willing to use a pre-paid in the mean time.  Well, he got tired of waiting for any news and decided to go with the IP5 instead.  I wonder how many more time this story has repeated.
 

for people that have routine stops during commutes Nokia needs to add waypoints to the commute.  I consistently get the wrong commute calculated because I have to drop off someone who is just slightly off the chosen route.

Does it read road names yet? That is one of the biggest things missing from the wp7 version right now.

How ridiculous, it still doesnt read street names. I need more that "in three hundred feet turn left then turn right." C'mon Nokia. So we are losing Bing Maps, right? At least Bing Maps gave out street names.

OMFG, it doesn't read street names?!!!!! I wanna through something thought the built-in mapping solution was finally going to be complete in WP.
Google can do this, why is it so hard to have turn-by-turn (without stupid tapping) AND vocal street names without have to shell out  $30+ for a nav app?

YES it reads road names, you have to seect a voice with street names. then it reads them just fine.

Few questions
1)  Does the voice say the street names/highways, etc?  instead of just turn left in 5 miles. 
2)  Does the screen actually show highways?  like for me, 880 north or south?  dont think the original nokia drive showed highways.
3)  did surfer dude get more lines?

The avoid toll roads setting has been needed on this and vanilla Maps for ages. I have a very convenient toll road that runs the perimeter of my city, but no, I don't want to use it. At the moment, I can almost never get directions if my path crosses the toll road.

Any chance this will be available for existing Lumia 900 owners? Also, does it show street names, like I-10 East or West?

My main problem with Nokia Drive is a lack of option to select an alternative route if the current route is blocked or not usable! It keeps prompting to go back to the same route even after going in the most obvious opposite direction!
Hope the fix this! Otherwise, its a great app.

I have always had this issue even with stand alone devices. It will try and correct you onto the "best" route until you are far enough off route that it will finally re-route correctly.

WPCentral needs to get a full review of this up asap. Beta or not, this is what is available to early WP 8 adopters and you can tell by the myriad of questions in the comments that people are confused and have a lot of concerns:
-will the app say street names (and hopefully say "northeast" for street names ending in NE rather than saying "Nebraska" like Bing maps :-)).
-when will it be available on non Nokia phones? Need confirmation, not speculation.
-will any updates be available on Lumia 900?
-how is the integration with Nokia Maps?
-can we review the route with text lists of directions (this is huge for me)?

I could have sworn at the WP8 developer preview, they showed the large live tile would show a mini version of the map or something to that effect when on the start screen.  Am I delusional or did that happen?

Yes Im pretty sure that you have to create a "Commute" first then it will show up like it did at the preview.

A couple of questions

  • Can you choose to play directions through the phone speaker. I usually have my bluetooth headset paired and it plays the directions through that on the WP7.5 version.
  • When driving and you hit a jam and want to reroute can you set it to avoid a roadblock like on a tomtom
  • Similar when setting your route can you choose to avoid a road for example you know the M25 is a carpark and want to route around but are getting on another motorway later in the journey so don't want to avoid all motorways.

 

ANOTHER ANNOYING THING IS WHEN YOU REACH DESTINATION THERE IS NO DESTINANTION ADDRESS DISPLAYED ON SCREEN JUST A FLAG!! Does this change with the beta? Also see my other questions above. Thanks.

I'm with everyone. Need some info. Would love that UK female voice to say street names.
I love the Navigon interface. How it gives you a close up of the free way exit when your supposed to exit. 

When you download the navigation voice, there ARE options for "announced street names", which are interestingly quite small in terms of file size. Probably they have to be used combinedly with the regular voice file. But anyway, when I tried, I did hear the name of street, at least for the major street!
Another fantastic thing is that the Nokia Drive is now integrated with other applications! For example, when you search a place in Nokia Map, you can click the result shown on the map and trigger the Nokia Drive for navigation. When you receive an address in a SMS, click it to open the map and then you have option to turn on Nokia Drive now!

On the 900, the camera lens plate kept scratching. I see it is different material this time on the 920. Does it still scratch?

The proof is in using it. i have done a couple different routes on my 920 and it says the street names, if you are smart enough to pick a voice with "announce street names"

Not very happy at all with Lumis 920, drive+ really screwed us over yesterday took us through London city centre instead of using Dartford crossing. Seemed to change route automatically without us knowing when stopped at services. Not the first time location as been inaccurate also, city lens took us to a restaurant that didn't exist. My accelerometer stops working in metro os after about 1hr, requiring a reboot to allow correct use of the camera and picture orientation, other os based portrait and landscape features also have issues with this. I think my Lumia days are numbered im afraid as nothing works properly, its been back for repair 2 times now.