Daily App Review: Nokia Drive 2.0 (Windows Phone)One of the best navigation apps we have ever seen on a handset can now work in offline mode too. Yep, you can now get directions without a network connection!
For all the problems the company has been dealing with, one field in which no one doubted Nokia's prowess was the integration of navigation applications with its handsets. Most Nokia smartphones came with some of the best pre-installed GPS and map software that one could get on a handset, and that too free of cost. Fortunately, that is one aspect of Nokia phones that has not changed even after the Espoo company joined forces with the Big M last year--the first Windows Phone devices bearing the Nokia name came with a stash of navigation apps, the most notable of which was Nokia Drive, which as its name indicates, provided you with directions while you were driving.
Well, Nokia has now updated Drive and added a feature that we think makes it a real killer app for all those who use their devices while travelling--an offline mode. In simple terms, this means that if you are taking your phone to an area which has no cellular network connectivity, you will still be able to get driving directions from the phone. So no matter where you are, you will be able to get driving/travel directions. Now, that is not something you can get on most handsets these days, which tend to ally their GPS functions with cellular network connectivity, as this works faster. What's more, as you won't be connected to the Internet, you will not occur any data costs. Of course, you will have to download the maps on to your device before you get started as downloading them from the Internet (as in the case of Google Maps) will not be an option
We downloaded Nokia Drive 2.0 to our Lumia 800 (the app currently works only on Nokia's Windows Phone devices), downloaded maps for Delhi, and just for trying out, downloaded the Hindi and English voice packs. And then promptly took out our SIM card and switched off the Wi-Fi and ran the app. Imagine our surprise when it locked on to GPS satellites within half a minute of being launched and pinpointed our location. We could choose between 2D and 3D views and indicate whether we wanted landmarks shown or not.
Our first doubts surfaced when we tried to enter a destination and received a message saying that the network could not be reached and that we should check the connection. However, just below that lay the "search offline" option and clicking on that, allowed us to enter the location we wished to go to in the city. A quick note--do not expect the app to pick up exact addresses, but if you define locations by landmarks, it does a decent job. And before you ask, yes, it showed up the EFY office in Okhla perfectly. You can also download maps for India--a hefty 300 MB-plus download they are, though--and more than a hundred other countries.
However, where Nokia Drive 2.0 really scored was in its navigation. We took it on a spin in our car on one of Delhi's lesser known routes--from Shahadara to Mayur Vihar--and veered off its recommended path several times. It kept re-routing us within seconds of our changing direction, which was impressive (we were not once asked to take a u-turn and return to the path initially recommended by the app) . And even more impressive was just how smoothly and clearly the Hindi voice navigation system worked--we were told about turns on the road a good 50-75 metres before they came up. The redesigned dashboard almost meant we could check out the speed we were travelling at as well as the approximate time of arrival at our destination. And if you are conscious about speed limits, you can also ask the app to alert you when you exceed a certain speed. This being a touchscreen app, you can pinch to zoom in and out or just use the "+" and "-" icons on the corner of the screen. And yes, it all works incredibly smoothly.
Which is not to say that Nokia Drive 2.0 is perfect. Nope, it has its problems--we wish we would simply tap a place on the map and say we wished to go there. We were also somewhat annoyed by the fact that it seemed to assume that we always wanted to go somewhere from our current location--logical perhaps, but not always the case. And then there was the very irritating habit of showing results in the form of text, with minimal address information beneath them. So, if you are looking for say, "Cafe Coffee Day", you will be treated to a list of branches of the cafe with "India" written beneath them and the distance they are from your current location (although not in which direction)--you actually have to go into the map to see each of their locations. A note about their address or locality would have been simpler.
Still, all said and done, we must say that Nokia Drive 2.0 has got to be the best driving application we have seen on a smartphone, especially now with its offline prowess. We still cannot believe that Nokia is giving it for free. We are not complaining and neither we suspect, are all those who known Lumias. Bring it to all Windows Phone devices, Nokia. Please. Available from: Windows Phone Marketplace (part of the Nokia Collection)Price: Free--Nimish Dubey