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.
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.
Nokia has already outlined its proposals towards the advanced user interfaces (UIs) of Symbian^4 handsets, before the Symbian^3 models have even released.
Simplification is Nokia’s keyword for the Symbian^4 proposals. It promises cutting-edge features and capabilities involving autosave with less user prompts. The proposed UI also claims to have a slicker feel with simplified applications with a more uniform look and a new interface layout, with just contacts, music, photos and applications available.
Nokia has submitted its UI proposal to the Symbian Foundation, and will now undergo open evaluation. However initial thoughts from the Symbian Community Forum critisied the proposals for being too mundane. One poster called Micky commented: “I think we need more WOW factor, and be distinguished from the competition.”
Another commenter, Petteri said: “I understand that these are v0.1 drafts but we should not forget that this change is crucial to the platform success so aiming higher should be encouraged.”
With the Symbian^3, the first open source release due in a couple of weeks, Nokia is hoping to regain ground on the Iphone and Android models that are top of the sector. However the new OS can be used on iPhones, Crackberries and Androids as well.
The Symbian Developer website reckons smartphones with Symbian^4 OS will hit the shelves by 2011.
It seems most Nokia handset owners are inveterate cheapskates. Over 0.5 million have downloaded SMS preview from Ovi for free, but only a handful appear to have paid the £3 for the Pro version.
While 776 people who downloaded the free version bothered to review the app, a mere 16 have deigned to do so the paid-for, Pro version.
TechEye is not quite sure that SMS Preview’s creator, Numo Solutions, has got its business model right by giving it away for free. Especially as it doesn’t seem to have any other Nokia/Ovi application benefitting from its good name.
Well, at least Nemo has the backing of Nokia which has just carried out a ‘text-shot’ and messaged all its subscribers about the joys of SMS Preview. Nokia’s forlornly hoping that we’ll all get hooked and pay for some other app on Ovi. No chance.
What does SMS preview do? In a nutshell, it pops up a window the instant your handset reviews an incoming SMS/text and enables you to both read it and see who the sender is.
That’s actually very useful, as it means you don’t have to go to the bother of pressing any buttons (and unlocking the keypad in order to do so). Techeye would give Numo eight out of ten for effort on this one.
Incidentally, it’s not absolutely free. You might have to pay for the international text message it sends in order to ‘activate’ the app.
The spat between Apple and Nokia over phone technology ratched up a knot on Friday when the Cupertino company filed a further complaint with US body the International Trade Commission (ITC).
The fed agency probes unfair trade practices and Nokia had already complained to the ITC in December, claiming Apple breached seven patents it owns, and wanting the body to ban imports of rather important products such as the MacBook, the iPhone, and the iPod.
Although Apple is an Apple pie American company, it uses various ODMs (original design manufacturers) in the Far East to make equipment for it.
Nokia and Apple are already in a bitter and twisted fight in US courts over patents. Nokia claims Apple has infringed a number of patents it owns and wants damages. Apple claims Nokia infringes its patents.
Yet, back at the Etre conference in early October, Oli-Pekka Kallasvuo shrugged off competition from Apple and the iPhone. According to TG Daily, Kallasvuo said that Nokia needed to compete with “new people” like Apple as well.
Nokia, according to the Bloomberg wire, will have a close look at the complaint and alleged Apple was riding on the Finnish firm’s coat tails.