Nokia set to bring some amazing new capabilities to its mapping apps with Windows Phone 8

Yesterday we saw a whole heap of information presented by Nokia covering hardware and services, with so much to get through some things were only touched upon. One such area was of Nokia’s plans for maps and directions. We’d previously covered Nokia’s goal to maintain leadership in location so this segment was of great interest.

During the keynote a much clearer insight into their plans for their location based apps coming in Windows Phone 8 was provided, and we think there will be some exciting advances heading to the platform. Indoor Maps, tighter integration of their current mapping apps and augmented reality improvements are all on the way.

When we heard from Nokia a few weeks back about their plans to become the “Where” company we also quizzed them about the current suite of applications and how well those integrate with one another. Currently there isn’t any cross over between them, they all exist as separate entities.

They made it clear that they were looking to improve those core experiences and in some cases combine features from one app into another and link them more closely by saving key data to the cloud. The keywords we hear concerning their coming plans are “integrated suite” and their opening statement by Jo Harlow, Executive Vice President at Nokia, gave us the first insight into their plans:

“Going places, meeting people, taking the train and driving, these are not discrete unconnected events. On the Nokia Lumia 920 powered by Windows Phone 8, we’re bringing together Nokia’s location based applications to create an integrated suite of location services.” 

The presentation started with a look at their augmented reality app called City Lens, that app looks to be picking up some interesting enhancements. If we gander at the presentation, the names of the shops and places of interest are now accurately superimposed onto the buildings. The app is now aware of the buildings surface and renders correctly. The overall effect is much clearer and easier to interpret compared to the current floating labels.

City Lens Application - labels are now correctly mapped using perspective onto the surfaces of buildings

From that we moved onto their Nokia Maps application, during the presentation they state that it will have true offline capability. We suspect that it will leverage the now deeply embedded “Where” platform to deliver on this promise as that has full offline mapping capabilities that all applications can now take advantage of. Their intention to start intelligently linking these currently disparate apps is then announced by Harlow:

“Because we have increased the integration between applications, when you have found a route in maps you can launch Nokia Drive straight away for free voice guided turn-by-turn navigation, right out of the box.”

A nice example of leveraging Window Phone 8’s app-to-app communication technologies and certainly much more useful than having to complete a re-route using another app depending on your needs. Small but important changes to the way applications work with each other will have a dramatic effect on overall user experience, so that will be a welcomed improvement.

Nokia Maps transition from map to augmented reality mode shown during demo 

We reported yesterday that augmented reality is coming to Nokia Maps, most of us have issues with trying to determine the general direction of what way we’re walking. This looks to help out with that by providing a heading as well as places of interest and even the route itself.

A nice touch that we hope doesn’t lead to armies of people walking around in cities in AR mode finding their way around. Implementation sounds straight forward enough, here’s what Harlow had to say about the new feature in Nokia Maps:

"Once you have set the route in Nokia Maps, pull up the phone at any time to switch into augmented reality mode and see both the direction and the route as well as the points of interest."

We now have official confirmation that voice guided turn by turn pedestrian navigation is also coming to Nokia Maps. This is pretty huge, being able to have our phones in our pocket whilst we walk about being guided along will be really useful, saving on the endless glances at our devices.

Pino over at Nokia conversations has this to say about the new mapping features:

"If you have a car, you can now start Nokia Drive voice guided turn-by-turn navigation directly from Nokia Maps. But most importantly, if you’re on foot, you have now voice guided turn-by-turn pedestrian navigation too. It is important to highlight that our pedestrian navigation is specifically tailored to take into account footpaths, parks, stairs and all those areas that are only accessible on foot.."


Indoor Maps are coming to Windows Phone 8

Nokia are heavily investing in indoor maps, we can already see them being used by their close partner Bing to show inside shopping centers. The announcement confirms that they have every intention of bringing their indoor maps to Windows Phone 8. The context in which they speak about it makes us think it’s likely to be a integrated experience with their Transport app, as Harlow continued:

“Transport not only provides public transport departure times but also route and walking directions, to get you between stops. And since we’re adding “Indoor Maps” on Windows Phone 8 we can get you to exactly where you need to go inside the train station or bus terminal.”

Even though this part of the presentation was quite small we get a great feeling for what’s coming from Nokia with Windows Phone 8 and its formidable application suite. As well as tighter app to app communication between the different apps we’ll get improved walking navigation with the AR mode in Nokia Maps and the addition of the invaluable indoor maps too. Pretty exciting stuff.

Whilst this is currently all for Windows Phone 8, there is some good news for Windows Phone 7 users too. The My Commute feature is going to go live in the coming months in Germany, Russia, UK and Brazil. Also Nokia annouced they will shortly be updating Nokia Transport soon.

We’re keen to hear what you thought of the presentation. What got you excited?

  • Where is the pre-order button? :)
  • Not long to wait, still have to hear from HTC before moving to official launch time.:) RB
  • I actually have another question: Where is the damn sd card slot? I can live with 32gb but I would definitely prefer to have more storage
  • I find the lack is memory upgrade slot odd, a phone that size certainly has the room for it. I would love to have 128GB in my device... :)
  • hell yeah! the Ativ S is capable of 96GB and the 920 only has a third of that... really disappointing. If they don't want to inclued a sd card slot(probably for aesthetic reasons) they should at least give us a 64GB model 
  • It has a micro sd card slot. How do I know? Click on the link below. Its straight off Nokia's site. The information you're looking for is right under "Hardware". If you check it out, you will also find out that the 920 supports T-Mobile's network. So theres a high chance that it will come to T-Mobile. If you want to look at Nokia Lumia 820 specs then change the 920 in the URL to 820.
  • I don't think the 920 will have one. They made a point of mentioning it for the 820 but not the 920 during the keynote.
  • Really sucks not having the SD slot on the 920. On vacation with a killer camera an 1080p video and no SD slot? Whaaaat?
  • Just a question; do you really need 1080p... Most users who I find using the format, dont have 60' or bigger TV's that can really show the difference, and at the end if the day, 720p is perfectly fine for most content. It wasn't sobling ago that phones were recording video in QCIF... 1080p can prove a hell of a waste of memory, with little in the way of gain, IMHO. Its a numbers game, just like HTC will release a 20MP camera on their next phone no doubt, in an attempt to steal the limelight from the 920's crappy 8.2MP... Of course we know that more MP's do not make for a high quality photo, ots the optics, sensor and how you use the megapixels you have, that do that.
  • "Internal memory 1000 MB Mass memory 32GB and 7GB in SkyDrive" Directly off If that 32 GB isn't internal memory, I think SD slot is a safe bet, however, I do not think it's removable (without some trouble, that is).
  • ...on the 820 page it has a "memory card size category". The Lumia 920 does not.
  • Only in the USA or will also include other less advanced countries eg Malaysia, my home :)
  • Well if Malaysia is anything like e.g. Indonesia, the massive malls would be perfect targets for indoor mapping! :P
  • We cover 4600+ venues in 38 countries
    Unfortunately Malaysia is currently not one of them, but Indonesia is.
  • They haven't done a full announcement yet. When they do I'm sure they will state which territories will get coverage. Malaysia not advanced? KL isn't exactly a village is it?! Road network in Malaysia is pretty good too? RB
  • True, we are not that far behind the pack. Nokia Drive works like a charm. Always gets me to destinations without a hitch :) But really wish AR comes here too. That would smoke my frens IPhones
  • All nice and well, but I use Nokia Drive when riding my Vespa every day in London. I have to keep the screen on and put it in my pocket (it doesn't run under screen lock) and listen to the voice guiding me about the city. Works a charm!
    But now, the screen will be responding to all sorts of touches in the pocket.. I am worried that it will make Nokia Drive unusable to all motorists unless you can swith Nokia Drive to Voice Only mode and let it run under the screen locked or something... If this doesn't work, I'm geting something else I think
  • Could do a couple your situation wouldn't be too common (not a ton of people want their phone on but don't want to look at it).  But, could just get a hip holster for when you are on your bike...could also then figure out a way to attach that holster straight onto the scooter instead of you.  Or, add a pair of bluetooth/NFC headphones and just put the phone in your backpack.  Or just put it in your pocket with the screen facing away from your leg, nothing to touch it then?  I think the holster would be your best plan though.
  • couple of good points there Curt.. I have been putting it in my pocket but with the new 920/820 it seems it will no longer be a solutions as any material (gloves) would be able to interact with the screen when switched on.. Holster might  be an idea but would need one that sort of goes around a phone, rather than covers all of it including the screen.. But I agree, not a lot people will want to have their sat-nav on, without looking at it. NOKIA, allow DRIVE to run under the screen locked please!
  • It will have full multitasking in WP8 so it will run under lock screen so that problem is no more..
  • are you sure? I believe there have been no details regarding how he multitasking will work.. No other devices let their sat-nav run when you lock the screen as I understand.. the problem with the 920/820 will be, you can't ignore it by just putting it in your pocket screen-out.
  • Excited about most of the features, but very disappointed at the color choices. Come on Nokia, don't take away cyan blue and replace it with girly colors. We need cool colors (i.e, cold colors) such as blue or green, besides the colors appealing to your female clientele. Please don't screw this up and take another look at color choices.
  • Ask Pino about this on Conversations. He seems very responsive and will at the very least take note of your concern. Would a case of some kind solve it for now?
  • Pino is all about Cyan that's for sure... :)
  • [@Vipottaja; Try to reply to the post your are referencing, otherwise they get very confusing...]
  • I'm more the mapping guy than the color guy...
    I love cyan, yes, but if I'm going to get a Nokia Lumia 820 I will be more than happy to change the shell according to my mood or wardrobe.
    If I'm going to get a Nokia Lumia 920 then I think that grey will be it. So stylish but neutral.
  • I don't think these are exclusive to WP8. Think they'll make their way to WP7 but just in their separate apps like usual.
  • We are trying to update the apps for Windows Phone 7 as much as the platform allows us. That's why we have just commercially released Nokia City Lens, we are going to update Nokia Transport and extend My Commute (in Nokia Drive) to new countries.
  • Nokia drive needs a major upgrade. I use when commuting or going some place I know, but switch to Navigone when I need to go someplace that I actually need directions for. It needs to at lease call out road names otherwise you need to look at it which is dangerous. In addition ETA would be nice as would lane guidance. Since Navigon gets their map information from Nokia there is no excuse for such poor looking maps.
  • Nokia, you are back to the Game. Show them that "innovation" is not always spec-race and quantities apps-race! Love Nokia since Nokia 8310, hahaha.
  • Nokia - take my money NOW. What it isn't ready NOW?????