Nokia introduces free Ovi Maps for Smartphones

Nokia has rolled out its Ovi Maps feature for free to ten existing handset models. The GPS service will also become a standard feature on all new smartphones.

Ovi maps will be the first serious rival for Google’s navigation on some Android phones, as well as taking on the in-car GPS systems like Tom Tom.  As with previous Ovi launches, Nokia is encouraging developers to create new applications using the mapping data.

The Ovi mobile mapping software has always been technically free, but if you wanted the live traffic info and turn-by-turn voice navigation you had to pay extra. Now these are included in the free package along with Lonely Planet guides to cities and Michelin food guides.

Nokia Ovi maps

Operators can still charge for data downloads. Meaning that although being able to pre-download maps to your phone for long journeys, so that you’ll be able to navigate without a data connection to save battery or when you’re out of service range, there may be a charge.

The GPS is also pedestrian friendly as will also be the option to take shortcuts, if the user is on foot, through pedestrian-only areas and parks.

Over 83 million Nokia handsets sold over the past couple of years will be able to use the service straight away, with more added soon. The popular N97 won’t be included until the end of the month.