Free turn by turn navigation from Nokia

Nokia announced yesterday evening that they are going to offer free turn by turn navigation on their newly improved Ovi Maps application. Yeap, you heard me correctly, turn by turn navigation for FREE.

The new Ovi Maps application has maps for over 180 countries. Drive and walk turn by turn navigation is currently available in 74 countries and 46 languages. Singapore is one of the 74 countries to get the free turn by turn navigation. On top of that, Singapore is also 1 of the 10 countries to get live traffic information. The traffic information is from LTA. And the turn by turn navigation does take traffic status into consideration and offer a reroute when there is a traffic jam.

The maps can be preloaded onto your Nokia devices so that it can be access when device is offline. This feature is extremely useful when you travel oversea or when you are at places where there isn’t a reliable 3G data connection. The maps are provided by NAVTEQ which was acquired by Nokia back in 2008. There are also over 6000 3D landmarks in over 200 cities to help users find where they are. Over 100 Singapore landmarks are in 3D.

On top of all these, the new Ovi Map also has premium content like Loney Planets, Timeout, WCities and Expedia integrated into the maps, free. For Singapore, users will also get Hungry Go Where food guide on the new Ovi Map which has over 4000 restaurant listing in Singapore. Expect to see more premium content being added to Ovi Maps in the near future. There is also facebook integration which allows you to update your current location onto your facebook status.

I managed to try the turn by turn navigation for a while. The instructions were pretty clear and on comparable quality as a normal GPS you find in your car. They managed to pronounce local street names like Bukit Batok and Jurong East pretty well. Personally, I think the turn by turn navigation will be more useful for driving. Not quite sure if there is really a demand for turn by turn navigation while walking.
This is indeed a game changing announcement from Nokia. The closest we get now is from Android where the Droid offers free turn by turn navigation in USA. Not only is it just one device in one country, you also need constant data connection to get the maps. The maps on Google maps cannot be preloaded onto the phone. And turn by turn navigation apps on iPhone cost at least US$50.
This announcement is indeed good news for the consumer. Currently, only 10 models are supported. The 10 models are: Nokia N97 mini, 5800 XpressMusic, 5800 Navigation Edition, E52, E55, E72, 5230, 6710 Navigator, 6730 classic and X6. Existing users can download the new Ovi Maps from nokia.com/maps or the Ovi Store. Support for more phones are on the way. Surprisingly, the flagship phone, Nokia N97, isn’t in the initial list. Understand from Nokia that support for N97 will be available soon. By soon, we are referring to a matter of few weeks. I can’t wait to get the new Ovi Map on my N97.

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