One of the standout features of smartphones is their ability to be used as GPS units. In this article we will take a look at both Nokia Drive and Google Maps, two powerhouse GPS apps. I have road tested both, so buckle your seat belts as these two navigation apps go head to head.
Google Maps is a powerful tool that is integrated well throughout the entire Android OS. It is feature packed and can offer a deep GPS experience.
Google Maps also has the ability to show real-time information regarding businesses that are close by, traffic information, detours, weather, special offers and much more. The level of integration throughout the OS is superb. You could be searching for a business in the browser of the phone, then when the address pops up you can click it and your phone automatically switches to GPS. You can also use a feature like this to point your GPS to the contacts in your phone book (if you have their address information saved); you can also just type in any address and Google Maps will find directions for you.
Google Maps is perhaps the most powerful navigation tool available in the smartphone world, but it is also the most complicated, which is no surprise because Android has never been known as user-friendly. The main Google Maps screen is cluttered with information, and there are dozens of menus to dig through. Getting Google Maps setup to your personal liking can take a while.
Another negative is that there is no real option to use Google Maps offline. You can save 10 small chunks of map to your phone to use offline, but this is hardly adequate. What this means that every time you use Google Maps you are burning through data. Best not to use it if you have a small data plan. Google Maps is good, but there are other alternatives.
When WindowsPhone was first launched it did not have a native navigation app, but now, Nokia Lumia devices have Nokia Drive, and when Windows Phone 8 is launched, all Windows Phone devices will have access to it.
Nokia Drive is integrated throughout the entire OS just like Google Maps is on Android: see an address in an app, tap it and Nokia Drive launches so that you can get there. Need to reach a contact: tap the address in their profile and Nokia Drive does the rest, and of course, you can type in any address. As you can see it works just like a regular GPS.
Nokia Drive is beautiful to look at. The main screen is not cluttered with information; everything is clean, crisp, and serves a purpose. When looking at the map you will see that businesses are displayed as a small icon, and a simple tap will bring up all information about that business. Traffic delays and detours are visible, and your daily commutes are remembered so that it can tell you if there are any delays on the roads you use the most. These are great features, but perhaps the biggest feature is that Nokia Drive can be used offline.
During initial setup you will be asked to download maps to your phone. The maps are then stored on the phone, and you can use Nokia Drive without ever having to worry about data usage. You can download as many maps as you want and they are all free.
The other big difference compared to Google's offering is ease of use. Nokia Drive is very easy to use. No complicated menus and a simple set of options that allow you to tweak the most important aspects of the app are what you will find here. Compared to Google Maps, Nokia Drive is as simple as plug and play. Nokia Drive is a joy to use, it is beautiful to look at, and you do not ever have to worry about using up your expensive data.
Both Nokia Drive and Google Maps are excellent navigation aides. Both are packed full of features, and both will get you from A to B, but Nokia Drive has the slight edge. Nokia Drive is far easier to use, is easier on the eye, and it will not burn through all of your data. If you use your smartphone for GPS on a regular basis, you really owe it to yourself to check out Windows Phone and the amazing Nokia Drive. Thanks to Brett Day for this great article!