Saturday, October 25, 2014

HERE Maps: The best free map/navigation app

I've long been an advocate of phone apps that work with no internet connection. When it comes to map/navigation apps, there are several important reasons for offline use:
  1. Like myself, there are people who—gasp—don't have a data plan on their phone
  2. Others have limited data plans, and map apps can use a lot of data
  3. Even for those with unlimited data plans, there are still many places where cellular coverage is bad or even nonexistent
  4. Lastly, it's really nice to have if you travel outside of your country and have no cellular service
Unfortunately, the most popular maps app—Google Maps—is terrible when it comes to offline use:
  1. You can download portions of maps for offline use, but the size of the area you can download is limited (you can't download an entire US state, for instance)
  2. Navigation doesn't work offline at all
  3. When offline you won't see any place names like businesses, parks, etc.
There are some free map apps out there that can be used offline, but they have limited capabilities and often ads. So that means if you want offline use, your best option is to pay for an expensive premium maps app.

But as of this week, there's a premium maps app that works offline, and it's free! I give you: HERE Maps.

HERE Maps has actually been around for a long time under other names (NAVTEQ/Ovi Maps/Nokia Maps). They're actually one of only four big map sources (the others being Google, OpenStreetMap, and TomTom), and they license their maps to many others, like Garmin and Yahoo.

Here are some of the features that HERE Maps offers:
  • Download countries and regions ahead of time for offline use
  • Maps in nearly 200 countries, and turn-by-turn navigation in nearly 100 countries
  • Full street addresses
  • Alternate routes
  • Points of interest
  • Traffic
  • Public transit
  • Speed limits
Ready to try it? Go here to read how to get it and install it:
HERE for Android unleashed on more smartphones!

Once you've got it installed, here are some great tips for getting started:
Getting started with HERE for Android: the basics

If you have an iPhone, HERE Maps should be available for you before the end of 2014.


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