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Smart2Go - A First Look at Nokia's Free Mobile Maps and Directions Print E-mail
Written by Glenn Letham   
Thursday, 15 February 2007
This week Nokia finally lifted the lid off the free mapping application smart2go (aka. Nokia maps). So far more than 30,000 users have downloaded the free (Beta) application, including SymbianOne's Glenn Letham... check out Glenn's first look at smart2go running on a Nokia N80.

The application is still in Beta but was made available for free download this week. A 3.4 MB download for select Symbian S60 3rd Edition devices can be accessed from www.nokia.com/maps or www.smart2go.com.

It should be noted that before you attempt to use this application you are aware of your mobile data plan and any costs that may be associated with using a data service like this... if you are paying per kb then you best have a nice income to supplement this trial! Since I'm currently on a T-Mobile "all you can eat" plan that's not an issue for me, however, you may not be as fortunate. I suggest you consult your carrier for data rates and consider signing up for an all you can eat plan if you think this is a service you'll use regularly. Given the number of cool mobile apps available to us these days (like Google mobile, my Yahoo! mobile, flickr, etc...) you may be surprised how often you can take advantage of data services. It should be noted that smart2go has also made available MapLoader - an application developed to save data and data service costs. Users concerned about data consumption will appreciate this service. Simply download the 2.6 MB application then install the data that you need (e.g. UK map data). Once the map data for the area of interest has been downloaded you simply install it on your memory card and all data calls by the smart2go application will be "local" and will not result in pricey data downloads from your carrier. (see http://www.smart2go.com/en/help/maploader). Here's an example use. Perhaps you’re off to Orlando for CTIA in a few weeks. Simply download the available data for Orlando, Florida, load on your device, then access when you get there... no data connection needed and no costly roaming charges.


 

When first loading the application the user is presented with a Globe - start navigating by zooming-in, panning, or searching for a location of interest


So, to download the app simply jump to http://www.smart2go.com/en/ download (you might want to hurry in case the Beta closes - there's been more than 30,000 downloads already this week!). Select PC or SMS download, indicate the type of device you have and then download away. The application currently supports Windows Mobile 5.0 devices and several S60 3rd Edition devices, including Nokia E61, E70, N73, N80, and N93.

To get the full experience from the free application, a Bluetooth GPS unit will be required.

At first attempt I had difficulties completing the download using both methods, however, after several attempts I managed to grab the file via PC download. Using Nokia PC suite I then quickly and effortlessly installed the application on my Nokia N80 smartphone. The application loaded immediately and I was presented with a Globe (image of the Earth). Using the directional buttons on my mobile I easily panned around and could zoom-in or zoom-out. I also tested connectivity by accessing using my carrier's data service (T-Mobile Internet) and I also easily connected to my wireless LAN - very simple and it worked first time (unlike other applications where I have had difficulty configuring this option).

To start a search I simply pan to my area of interest (roughly), I used Northern California as a test. I then select to search for a place of interest and select transportation POIs. A list of available transportation POIs for the area I'm currently mapped to is presented. In my list I see San Francisco International Airport is available. Clicking on the item takes me to the airport and a map is presented. I can optionally plan a route to this location, navigate to it, send or save the location. Those of you with GPS enabled devices can easily add your own POIs based on your position... a very handy feature.

 

Once installed (left) the "Nokia Maps" app shows up in the S60 "My Own" folder; Starting the application (right) brings up a Globe and your area of interest is identified with a cursor (searching for places will return hits in that region)


Searching places (POIs) brings up a "Search by Category" screen (left) where categories are identified with a descriptive icon. POIs are available for search and displayed on the maps using the icons shown. Search results are displayed in tabular format (right) and presented with a descriptive icon, name, and description. Click on a POI of interest to be taken to that location on the map (below).

Viewing a POI on the map


Overall, the application is intuitive and fun; although I'm not exactly sure about the POIs available... obviously a premium city guide would be very useful for navigating a specific city of interest. Something rather fun is the 3D map view. Simply select Option / View / 3D... the screen then tilts and a 3D viewing effect results.

Things you can do with smart2go:
- download maps and street plans
- save points of interest
- share your favorite places
- search address
- locate a landmark
- plan a route
- get turn-by-turn directions (GPS only)
- voice guidance (GPS only)
- connect via WiFi
- use mapLoader to load maps onto device when roaming
- available for use in many countries (see http://www.smart2go.com/en/help/faq/#jump10 for list)

Things I like about the application:

  • download and installation is simple and fast
  • application search and navigation is fast
  • setup and network configuration is simple
  • street maps are very attractive and cartographically pleasing
  • POI symbols are very well designed
  • 3D tilt effect is fun and provides a nice effect
  • It's free!

Things I'm not totally sold on (yet):

  • POI database seems rather limited and presents some odd results (ie. majopr hotels are not located in some cities and yet smaller, less-know places are.
  • Once a search has resulted in a list of POIs, tabbing through them results from clicking navigation wheel. this struck me as odd and not very useful (ie. confusing)
  • Zooming in and out is limited. I would prefer having more navigation options available.. like zoom in 2x, 4x, 5x, 10x etc...
Overall, given the application is Free it's quite amazing and will no doubt result in other map and map data providers rethinking their price point... I can't wait to see some of the premium options!

Note: navigation and city guides are a "premium" service available at a cost. User manuals are available for download from http://www.smart2go.com/en/help/manual

Smart2Go is available for download from www.nokia.com/maps and www.smart2go.com

Last Updated ( Friday, 16 February 2007 )
 


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