I have been quite busy lately, thus no updates for a long time. In the beginning of October I spent a week on vacation in Lisbon, Portugal. It was a nice trip in a city with a lot to see, and I enjoyed some very good restaurants pretty much thanks to mobile maps and travel guides.
As my hotel was some 5 km from the main centres of Lisbon, everything was a bit far away. Nokia Maps and Google Maps became very valuable when trying to find where were or and far away our target was.
We also had a few printed paper maps with us, but they were almost useless. The streets were quite badly marked, and often there was no sign of the street or road anywhere close enough to be seen, even close to main streets.
I had pre-loaded the maps of Portugal to Nokia Maps (previously called Ovi Maps) which was about a 180 MB download if I remember correctly. It took less than five minutes to download and install them via my WLAN and cable broadband at home. Nowadays it’s possible to download even global maps of almost 200 countries. They’re just some 7 GB or so.
We didn’t want to go far away for the restaurant every night, so the restaurant search of Nokia Maps and the Lonely Planet guide were a very nice tool. I also used Google Maps to check some reviews, as there was a free wireless access in our hotel for customers in our hotel Turim Iberia.
Google Maps would be even better if Google enabled pre-loaded maps. However, they have improved their application so that when using the regular 2D street maps, the amount of data transferred is not big as it used to be. Now it can be occasionally used when roaming abroad too.
I noticed, hower, Nokia Maps wanted to download some more data all the time too. I wonder why it didn’t download the PoI data and guides as of that time? Fortunately it uses vector based maps and seems to very data efficient otherwise too, so all of my Nokia Maps extra downloads combined were less than 5 MB during the whole week.
In my experience TripAdvisor had the best and most restaurant reviews in Lisbon, but this feature didn’t seem to be location aware with Nokia Maps. So it would list all the restaurants in Lisbon, and I couldn’t sort them by distance from my location.
To my surprise, I ended up using Google Maps quite often, because it has a very fast and simple enough UI compared to more complicated, and in my experience also a bit slower Nokia Maps 3.08 (beta). For example, when I wanted to find a certain museum, restaurant of one of Lisbon’s famous sights, it was very quick to search for routes just by typing the target as the destination.
However, Nokia Maps has some benefits over the Symbian version of Google Maps 4.1.1. One of them is the compass. It becomes very handy when you’re really lost and don’t know which way you’re going. It’s a shame Google doesn’t seem to update Symbian version anymore.
I also had LG’s Windows Phone Mango device with me, but as I didn’t still have offline maps and navigation for that, it was not very useful. This convinced me Nokia can get a very big benefit of their free offline and online maps and navigation for pedestrians and cars. However, Navigation already announced mobile maps and navigation for Mango, about 90 EUR for Europe and 45 EUR for USA. Update: Navigon has a limited time offer for 63 and 27 EUR at the moment.