Planning trips on your Nokia smartphone is about to get a lot easier. Today at Where 2.0, the Finnish cell phone manufacturer announced Maps on Ovi, a Web component designed to complement its mobile mapping software, Nokia Maps 2.0. As part of the Ovi brand of Internet services, which includes the Nokia Music Store and N-Gage gaming platform, Maps on Ovi will allow users to plan their trips on their desktop or laptop and then synchronize (automatically or manually) it with their smartphones. Conversely, if you're already out on the road, you can record routes and points of interest on your handset and then upload them to the Ovi service when you return home to share with family and friends. The interface on the Web side is similar to what you'd see on your phone for ease of use and a more seamless experience.
We got a brief demo of Maps on Ovi, and it looks very cool. Despite being booted off the hotel's Wi-Fi and some technical glitches with search (the service isn't even in beta yet), we can already see the benefits of such a service. The obvious benefit is not having to sit there and peck out addresses on your phone's alphanumeric dialpad, and it's especially helpful when you're planning a multidestination trip. The synchronization from the Web to the phone was smooth. Plus, we like the sharing aspect of Maps on Ovi, and this is a point that Nokia emphasized during our briefing. Michael Halbherr, vice president of context-based services at Nokia, said now it's not so much about route calculation (since that part of the technology is pretty solid) as it is about what we can do with the data. The next step is about discovering, collecting, and sharing those experiences. And this is certainly something I can get onboard with. Having covered portable navigation systems for the past two years, I find that most models offer the same core functions (text- and voice-guided directions, points of interest database, etc.) and do them reasonably well, so now the challenge is to find services that will further improve the driver's or walker's experience (and I don't mean adding multimedia features, people!)
Nokia hopes to have Maps on Ovi ready for public consumption later this summer, and though it will initially only work with S60 series smartphones, such as the Nokia N and E series models, the company said it hopes to develop it as an independent software for all types of form factors. Hear hear!