Nokia N95 – Google Maps for Symbian Review

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What Google Maps looks like on a Nokia N95

Google has released their superb Google Maps for the mobile phone and the great thing is, any Java capable phone can run it! However for Symbian powered mobiles we get a few more extras too, especially with integrated GPS support now added. I will be giving the NokiaN95 version a spin for the purposes of this review.

To obtain the mobile version (for nearly any handset) simply point your mobile to http://www.google.com/gmm. Be aware though that you will incur Data Service charges and it is not advised to use this service without an unlimited data plan or WiFi enabled nearby. While the Map View is pretty basic and detailed enough to get by, Satellite View (which I will discuss later) will consume bandwidth as will searches. Once installed simply run it and agree to the terms laid out.

If you have GPS integrated or indeed paired via Bluetooth then you can press the “0” key right away to be taken to “My Location”. Once there is a Satellite Lock, Google Maps will instantly scroll to your current location, which is pretty handy.

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Options and search are easy to use

By pressing the centre joystick button you can zoom in and the right function key to zoom out with the usual direction keys to easily move around the map. For those who have used Google Maps on a PC before then they will be right at home with exactly the same presentation and functionality offered, all on your handset. Upon pressing Options you get…

• Search – Simply enter a postcode, business name, city, county, street and so forth to find what’s nearby
• Directions – Get detailed directions from A to B once specified
• Satellite View – Ever used Google Earth? Think exactly the same once enabled
• Show Traffic – Traffic Reports for major roads. I haven’t got this to work yet to it might only be limited to the USA
• Show my Location – By using GPS or a new feature added by Google called My Location

My Location is currently in Beta and is pretty cool for those who do not have GPS available to them. It basically takes data from nearby Mobile Towers which are near you to bounce data from you and the tower to work out where you are within approximately 1000m on average. This is pretty cool and handy for many people. To get a better idea of how it works, check out the entertaining video by Google themselves explaining how My Location works.

Searching is a pretty easy affair indeed given the options available. For example putting in “UK Birmingham” brings it up on the map then you can run another search like “Travelodge” for nearby hotels. Once done you can then make it create direction for you to it. You follow the directions by simply pressing the keypad buttons on screen to follow the steps.
Google Maps also keeps a history of previous searches to keep things easy so by pressing Options > Search > Options > Recent Searches it will save you a lot of time for often used routes.

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Satellite View enabled and zoomed in

In all it is a very lightweight program (compared to Nokia Maps) and great for quick searches. It would be nice if Google allowed you to sync it to your Google Account for example for pre-made routes and locations because currently I don’t believe there is a way to create points on the map for quick reference (like the Landmark feature on Nokia Maps). With the ability to use Google Maps on the go combined with the free Screenshot application it proves itself to be a useful tool. You can take screenshots of your location or route and send them via MMS to friends if they get lost or want to know where you are. It won’t replace Nokia Maps totally but since it contains more detail at Street Level it is worth having on your Nokia N95. Just make sure you have an unlimited Data Plan or a wireless connection you can tap into before using!