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
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.
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!
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.]