Released on July 21st [initially for Nokia’s Lumia devices], I have had a few opportunities to try out the latest app, Drive 3.0 offering from Nokia.
Over the past two years I have repeatedly used Google’s brilliant built in turn-by-turn navigation powered by the Android based Google Maps app, and was amazed at how well it was executed. Other than occasional GPS signal loss issues, I came to rely on it like a good old friend.
I was hoping for the same “WOW” factor with the Nokia app for Windows Phone 7.5 too. So how does it work? Well, unfortunately in some very critical ways, not well at all…
Nokia Drive 3.0
In two of my three GPS guided trips using the app, Drive 3.0 took me to the wrong address.
In the first instance, I was attempting to get to the Courtyard Marriot in San Jose [denoted by the “A” marker in the Google map] and the app directed me past my target location and into the roundabout that rings the airport. Fun.
My second instance was no better when it directed me to “enter the highway” without stating which direction [North or South] to “enter the highway.” Even the listed exit/entrance name on top of the map just stated a rather unhelpful “Hwy 280 Junipero Serra”.
The third guided attempt however was successful.
What I found disconcerting is that the app requires you to constantly peek at your phone to figure out where it is telling you to go, and even then the information displayed is a bit spotty. There are no exit names spoken. Generic spoken terms like “take the exit” and “turn right ahead” are all the spoken part of the app offers. So if you have multiple or closely spaced streets or exits, you can find yourself in a bind to figure out which one to take, necessitating the need to have your eyes fixed on the phone rather than on the road where they should be.
There is no link to your contacts, which wouldn’t be too big of an issue if the app was a bit more flexible with destination entry. But it’s not. Searching for an address can be PAINFUL if you are not e-x-a-c-t in your search, or if some information is unknown. My Google app offered “do you mean” type suggestions when an address was misspelled, or if information was missing [such as a zip code, etc.] but the Nokia Drive 3.0 app returns a “Sorry, no results found online.”
Also missing is a route preview/overview list. The only way to verify whether the app has found the correct address – or is routing you in a valid manner – is to tap the screen to enter full screen map mode and scroll-scroll-scroll your route from beginning to end.
Lastly, the app does not show traffic congestion warnings, nor does it offer you a re-route option around traffic slowdowns or blockages. This is rather odd since the released images do show traffic congestion ON the map, as shown on the left.
The app is free of course, so there is no monetary loss for trying it out, but considering that Microsoft has made a deal with Nokia to use their mapping and GPS as a default service on Windows Phone 8, I find this disappointing.
What HAS been working for me however, is BING maps and navigation that comes built into the OS.
- The app can use your contacts addresses [if you have that information saved in the contact card].
- The app can often find an address even if misspelled or one with missing information.
- The spoken directions are complete using street names.
- There is a route listing overview which includes congestion and accident warnings at each step of the route.
- And you can even enter a corrected end point submission if the app should direct you to the wrong address.
Oddly though, the built-in navigation feature requires to you touch the screen after each waypoint is reached to get the next spoken directions. The phone does “bing” an audible notification to you letting you know to touch the screen for the next instruction. I can only assume this is a intellectual property rights issue that Microsoft has decided not to acquire.
I had high hopes for Nokia Drive 3.0, but I have unfortunately had to uninstall it as I found it far too lacking.