10 Reasons why I love Ovi Maps 3.03 on the N97 and think it's freakin' Brilliant.

| February 17, 2010 | 38 Replies

Last Tuesday, I went up to Manchester as I had an interview there (sidenote: got an offer yesterday btw – hehe score!). I didn’t know  Manchester that well (2-3 years the last time I was there) so I made sure I brought the N97 with the newly upgraded Ovi Maps 3.03 with free navigation [and the upgraded firmware V21].

Firmware V21 meant that I could start up my N97 on command. *Touch Wood* no more taking the battery out 50 times (no exaggeration) just to get it to start up.

But it was all about the Ovi Maps 3.03 update which finally makes the N97/Maps/Navigation experience something to enjoy and look forward to, where as previously it may have just caused unnecessary frustration.

Note. As Vinss said in the comment, on the software side at least, this could have been written about the 5800 or other S60 5th Ed phone with GPS and Ovi Maps. Not too sure myself about S60 3rd.


10 Things to love about Ovi Maps 3.03 on the N97:

1. Instant, accurate GPS lock.

N97 has been infamous for having poor GPS signal (due to improper positioning of GPS module apparently). I’ve had issues with it myself, but it’s cleared up to get GPS lock under 30 seconds. Now with A-GPS I can get (accurate, within 20m) locks under 10 seconds. All the time.

Having instant navigation is itself fantastic, but just being able to whip out N97 and check “where am i” is almost as equally good. e.g. if you’re on someone else’s vehicle/taxi/train and you want to know where abouts you are/how long to go.

2. Instant Compass Lock!

Freakin hell, what did they do to the N97? This was an on and off thing with the N97 as in you weren’t sure it was really ever going to work when you wanted it to. Sure you could have made it work with the wrist twist trick but not in navigation.

What’s more, you can switch of the compass by just clicking it. You can reactivate the compass the same way. The compass is pretty much an essential thing for pedestrian navigation (N900 has no compass, implements map turning in a different way whereby it rotates map in direction you’re going – really cool. Compass/map rotate combination would be even more awesome. Note – Ovi Maps for Maemo on N900 is very bad at the moment. It’s only good for telling you where you are)

3. Strong GPS lock

Ok, very similar to point 1, but having an instant lock isn’t the same as keeping that lock. Whether in a vehicle, open air, under bridges, the N97 kept a solid GPS lock of where I was at all times. No suddently-disappearing-making-you-lost act.

4. Search works in Ovi Maps!

Holy moose, I never thought I’d see the day when I gave up searching for places on Google Maps app because Ovi Maps was so incompetent at searching back then. Before, searching for anything on Ovi Maps (even the desktop version) would NOT find you anything. e.g. searching for “Pub” or even the name of that pub will not get you what you are looking for. Now

5. Ovi Maps search has details!

So, in addition to being able to actually find the place you’re looking for by search, you can also see any additional details like phone numbers/email addresses/websites. I found this helpful when I had to phone up my hotel in Manchester and confirm reservation. I didn’t have the number saved but it was there on search.

6. Revamped UI.

You can reach settings from this main menu, it's the spanner icon

We saw the beta version at Nokia World O9. It’s much more simplified, more visual UI with icons rather than lists of clogged up options [weather/events/lonely planet/michelin only available when online].

This is the main start screen. My Position will show you the map and home in on your current position. Below are a couple of screenshots, one taken on the way to Uni (hence the red dot showing I’m 1.2KM away – don’t want to show my Uni house location :p) and the second being actually at Uni. [Note, if you're unaware, pressing that red dot centres your position, also allowing COMPASS to work]

  • The bottom bar is minimised and gives you the option to go to Menu or search.
  • The top bar gives the name of where you are.
  • The gears lets you change map view/satellite view/terrain view as well as showing 3D view/landmarks and night mode. [I'll post a screenshot later, I have a lecture to go to right now]
  • The compass is off by default, but pressing it activates it and turns it green when you have a compass lock [meh, I just realised I've got the wrong screenshot that doesn't show compass on - will update after my lecturest there's a screenshot with compass on in the final image of this post].
  • The green bar on bottom right indicates signal strength as well as any data amount downloaded.

This all of course translates nicely to Landscape view – I just haven’t got screenshots

7. Share Location!

Geotagging and sharing your location isn’t a new thing but it’s a welcome integration to Ovi Maps.

Connect up to facebook, add a photo from album or take a new one, write your message and off it goes to be shared with  your facebook friends.

8. Michellin Guides and Lonely Planet

This is brilliant if you’re a tourist, not sure where to stay, what to see and do. These city guides along with Ovi Maps Navigation is like having your own personal tour guide to show and tell you about the sight

And these are of course, location dependent so you can get to the good things nearest to you!

9. Events

I really like this one as it’s something it’s something I can use all the time (as opposed to just assisting when I’m in new places).

Events tells you about activities that are happening right now or some time today around your area. The main screens shown are Cinema and Concerts as well as other things like sporting events, theatre, nightlife etc.

I really like the movie search as it gives you up to date showing times as well as which venues/cinema that’s located. No more having to google[or other search engine] cinema times. ^_^.

10. Excellent Car and Pedestrian Navigation.

The reliability of Ovi Maps 3.03 and whole package combined brings fantastic Navigation experience. It’s super easy to find the place you want to go, either from guides, search or just by clicking on the map.  Select Drive to or Walk to and Ovi Maps will give you turn by turn directions, with voice in Car Mode and with beeps and vibrations when in pedestrian mode. A great thing about having the N97 for Sat Nav is the simple transition between car to pedestrian as you can simply pop it in your pocket.

In Manchester, instead of getting a taxi, I used Ovi Maps. A couple of other interviewees were heading to the train station but I suggested walking instead of a taxi as it’s not that far and it’ll save on cash. When I mentioned I’d use Sat Nav, they giggled at the weird thought of bringing a big Sat Nav device randomly…but when I mentioned it was on a phone they were quite impressed (Quite odd really, I assumed people my age would know that type of thing of Sat Navs on phones).

Amazingly, the N97 worked in front of people. Normally, when ever I try to demonstrate something it crashes. But it didn’t! I even managed to give directions to a tourist for a local bank. Stopped my navigation, searched for banks…showed them on Ovi Maps banks around the area and then went back to finding Picadilly Station.

This part of Ovi Maps has always been good since the V3. version but with everything else being polished up, it’s that cliche of “the whole thing becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

Areas of Improvement:

Some things I would like to see maybe is actual satellite images. However, Ovi Map’s maps do have silhouettes of the buildings so that’s a midway compromise of working out what certain places are (as well as 3D landmarks)

Now if only the rest of the N97 would work as well as Maps (never thought I’d say that), I might have less of an urge to throw it in the bin [gah, frustrated because email won't send - it's just refreshing over and over. Utter fail.]

Tags: , , , , , ,

Category: Nokia, Nseries, OVI, S60, Symbian

About the Author ()

Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at mynokiablog.com and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and  Facebook.com/mynokiablog. Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@)mynokiablog.com or email me directly on jay[at]mynokiablog.com

Comments (38)

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  1. vinss says:

    completely agree with you, I have a 5800 but all you said could be for this phone too, Nokia is really improving his software technologies that was the big leak point, keep on the good work Nokia you guy rule ! :)

    • Jay Montano says:

      Hi Vinss,

      Yup, you’re right, this could have been written about 5800 or any Nokia phone with the Maps 3.03 (touch anyway).

      Nokia’s come leaps and bounds in terms of their navigation, not just features list but the straight forward UI. It used to be so frustrating to use, especially the poor search function.

      Now just things like Satellite/streetview/latitude integration (they did have some kind of friend finder thing which was like google latitiude)

  2. Michele says:

    Are you completely crazy?
    The GPS signal in the N97 is the worst I’ve ever seen in an abut ten devices GPS-enabled I own. It is so bad that Nokia made a separate version of Maps exclusively for the N97 (trying to correct the GPS delay).
    I’ve tried on various scenarios: on regular streets the apps show the correct turn about 150-200m I’ve surpassed it, in the highway (130 km/h) the position is continuously lost (not the fix, the position!): one moment you are on the highway, the next you are on the country road beside! About every 30 sec. the app try to reroute to your destination. It is totally unuseful and maybe dangerous in some situations.
    The GPS accuracy is about 150m and is varying in continuos.
    To me write an app for such a shame GPS on N97 is a ridiculous mockery for the customers!
    They must admit: “We made a mistake with the N97 GPS, we apologize”, it would have been better that make the app free.

    • Jay Montano says:

      Hi. What firmware are you on? [Also is the N97 connecting with data? N97 works much better with AGPS.]

      I’ve had really bad experiences with the N97′s GPS. One time last year it stopped working for a couple of weeks. No signal, no nothing. I don’t exactly know what’s been happening but it’s gotten better and now I can get it to lock under 10 seconds.

      Perhaps it’s just my particular handset. A huuuuuuge issue with the N97 it seems is the inconsistency of the quality of N97s available. There’s actually newer batches of N97 at the moment with improved keyboard lighting and non scratchable lens.

      On the road, N97 GPS has been working well, keeping track even at 70mph. These were just my experiences, I could just be overly lucky.

      On the Maps/Software side that can’t be denied of how good that’s become.

  3. mikep says:

    Spot on review. I even get a GPS lock (N97) in my office which is never possible with my TomTom. Would like to link journey planning with contacts though.

  4. Michele says:

    I’m on 21.0.045, the last one!
    It is unbelievable! It is like selling a car without the seats… It works? Yes! Can travel from A to B? Yes! But it doesn’t have the seats!
    Can do calls? Yes! Can sends messages? Yes! It Has the navigation app (FREE, WOW!)? Yes but you CAN’T use it, ‘cos the nasty GPS!
    Btw, in Italy (my region, maybe) the maps are not so accurate and the ViaMichelin and Lonely planet are very very poor of data.

    • Jay Montano says:

      Hi Michele,

      Sorry you’ve been having difficulty with the GPS on the N97.

      What’s your GPS like outdoors/ i.e. pedestrian navigation? Are you having locking problems there too?

      Might be difficult, but were you able to try out other N97s, perhaps yours maybe faulty?

      There’s a “hack” to increase the signal by adding copper wire on the N97.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ypljg3MLAf8 Perhaps this could boost your signal?

      There might be accessories available to boost your GPS signal too.

      Alternatively if there’s no way to fix your N97 but you’re stuck with it for car navigation, perhaps an additional BT module? Not ideal but something to get the functionality of Ovi Maps.

  5. Ozzi says:

    My N97 GPS performs great! In OVI maps, in Google maps…no problem at all so must be a difference in region or build?

  6. GremlinUK says:

    For those still having GPS issues with thier N97 – Don’t suffer – book it into a Nomia Service centre. There *is* a fix bu way of new GPS antenna. I had mine done 2 weeks ago and it’s been like a new phone since. No GPS issues AT ALL and perfect accuracy.

  7. Kensai says:

    Excellent review of the new version. Good work! :)

  8. SteveC says:

    On my N97 with latest firmware I still find the Garmin XT is the best nav programme.I put the nokia maps on when it became the free one and did some testing and I find it is usually late in showing my location,which translates to missing my turn,it is often “lost” and spends quite a bit of time recalculating route.The only thing I really like is speaking the actual street names.I did a test using all the different routing settings,basically straight up the freeway from work to a known location,only about 5 turns until I got on freeway and same at other end,about 10 miles,almost a straight line and nokia maps got lost 5 times,sometimes several miles off.

    • Jay Montano says:

      Wow, that is very dangerous if it’s loosing signal and constant re-routing journeys.
      Perhaps you could get in touch with Nokia Service Centre if possible and see if they can sort a fix for you?

  9. Thanks for the review, it inspired me to work out why mine wouldn’t upgrade, and then get the new version (I had to uninstall the old version, and then the new one would install).

    Your wish for satellite views seems to have been granted. If I click on the Cogs icon, it offers Map view, Satellite view, and terrain view.

    • Jay Montano says:

      Hi Steven,

      Good to hear you’re on the new version now.

      As to Satellite view, yup it’s there. But it isn’t very detailed, i.e. it disappears beyond city level. At least at Cardiff. Not entirely necessary as mentioned, Nokia maps silhouettes buildings so you can tell which is which, but it would be a nice option one day.

  10. jb says:

    Agree with most of the Jay’s observations. Have a 5800XM with FW40.0.005 (after prod code change…kinetic scrolling…couldn’t wait for Orange!). Both current and previous FW 31.0.101 are very stable with free Nokia Maps. My GPS lock is very fast when the phone is first stationary. If the car is moving around city, it can take 2 minutes to get a lock. Once locked, very accurate turn by turn performance with no significant lag. A BIG difference in performance vs earlier FW versions (e.g.: 21.0.025). Nokia has continued to invest in 5800 FW. For the money, is has been an excellent and versatile phone to use. Sorry for folks with bad experience…recommend backing up then updating to latest FW followed by a good reset.

  11. Luke says:

    Why I don’t have michillin on my my N97 navigation?

  12. rafiq says:

    worst.. week GPS signal on N97. only once i could connect to the GPS after installing OVI map. then always showing ‘waiting for GPS’ In Dubai..

  13. Raj Chauhan says:

    Agree with all the points above. However, one thing i thought you might mention was the ability to see safety (speed) cameras whilst navigating. I havent seen this on my N97 Mini yet….is it available in the UK?


  14. corleo says:

    Hi all :)
    You can check the quality of your N97 GPS with A-GPS=OFF(Diabled) ONLY.

    I’m fed up with this model. My first N97 was in Nokia Care for 3 times, my second N97 is there for 2nd time, just because of poor GPS reception. They changed probably everything, but without result.

  15. Nitish Kumar says:

    I dont what’s wrong with mine one, but I am not getting lock that easily for navigation.

    OK I am getting in seconds, if I try to get my location.
    But its not the case, if I put it for navigating to somewhere. After driving around 2 or 2.5 kms (10 Mins) it starts telling me where to turn and all… though work permissibly perfect after that. I could understand the calculating time for the route, but its not the case of N82, which is faster in that case at least.

    Though I have checked that NOkia N982 getting 4 Satelites and Nokia N97 Mini getting 5 at the same time, so its better, but… may be some local glitches.

  16. silvsurfer says:

    Does anyone know how to add few hundred POI’s into Ovi maps?
    Is it possible also to do route through multiple way points?

    THanks for any help!

  17. Judy says:

    I hope you can help me. I live in Chiang Mai Thailand. I do have Chaing Mai map installed. When I went to find out how to get to a location I was instructed by the Nokia salesperson that I couldn’t find a location by putting in a street address. I have to find on a paper map some recognizable place that might be close to where I need to go and then put in that name. Is this correct? Hopefully not as to me that defeats why I’m using the GPS. If this isn’t correct can someone please instruct me differently where I can put in an actually address.
    Thanks for your help.

  18. Raimis says:

    What I do not like is driving directions. OK it will help you reach destination, BUT not in shortest way. NOKIA “Drive to” can be used only in emergency cases.

  19. noonoo says:

    You must be smoking some weed or something. Bought my N97; had a blast navigating for a week – Then stupid update to ovi maps 3.03. It’s a dead duck in water. Waiting for gps since forever. On previous version, I could get a Satellite lock in my bedroom and car. With current version I’m standing on my roof – no lock. How can I go back to previous version? Unless we’re having nokia positioning server problems down south of Zimbabwe.

    • London_mafia says:

      same thing! horrible! and nothing about going back on their answers.bastards, i am going to file a complain letter, i will recomend doing same

  20. LockDaStock says:

    Hey all,

    I have something of a side problem with my N97. GPS works great! contended with that..but the stupid thing locks (i mean the phone, not the GPS signal) on my after the defined 60seconds and then I am left with a blank screen..while driving!! The only way to get back is to unlock the phone (with the side slider)…

    Is there no way stop the phone from locking while using Ovi maps!?

  21. devon says:

    Hi my n97mini s ovi is not connecting to server and ovi gps cannot find location . I live in zimbabwe can you help

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