Digital Geography

6. January 2016

HERE maps: Free navigation apps for web and smartphones

Navigating from a to b is really easy today. Once you have a power connector in your car (bike, bicycle, scooter or whatever) and a mounting point, smartphones are absolutely comparable with common navigation units for vehicles. App sharing onto new car infotainment systems makes it easy to choose your preferred navigation software also in current car models, if you’re not satisfied with the build in software. Also on your desktop many applications will guide you to your preferred destination. It’s time to check out the current navigation solutions on the market.




Navigation apps for smartphones and web usage supports us to choose the right type of transportation, shows us certain possible routes and guides us by signs, maps and spoken words to the wanted destination. My aim is to introduce free navigation products like HERE maps, Google Maps and Scout in upcoming articles. Let’s start with HERE maps.

HERE is a product of Nokia and was bought from three big german carmakers in 2015. The HERE maps system isn’t only a smartphone app but a world of web apps, community mapping features and live traffic information. On their homepage you’ll get the complete information. If you’re interested in improving HERE maps, here you get to the digitizing portal HERE map creator.

First usage

For your first navigation with HERE maps by using a browser just visit https://www.here.com/ and type in your starting point and your destination. The application shows the suggested route with estimated time by transportation type. If you switch to another transportation type like “Train”, HERE maps shows you the relating time and new possible routes based on the rail network on the map.

For downloading the HERE maps app, just visit your iOS AppStore or Google Playstore and search for HERE maps.

Design and Features

HERE maps has got a very clear UI which contains:

  • a search input field
  • Places: here you can type your preferred destination or looking for special places like restaurants, doctors, shopping etc.
  • Collections: if you’re logged in, you can bookmark your favorite places in order to find them quickly
  • Traffic: gives you additional colored street information about the current traffic situation (green: traffic flow is good, red: traffic jam)

and

  • a slide panel with more space for those necessary options already in the search input field mentioned
  • offline option on mobile: when you have an HERE account, you’re enabled to download country data to do offline routing
  • this panel is especially useful in mobile usage

All page elements are scaling responsive on different screen sizes.

The Mapstyle

HERE maps uses a high saturated color space.

HERE maps cartography style – overview

HERE maps cartography style – detail

Sample tracks

This is the way routing suggestions are look like in HERE maps. I’ve chosen a route from Berlin to Munich in germany to compare it with other routing engines in the upcoming articles about Google Maps and Scout. It’s based on the current traffic situation

HERE maps Berlin-Munich by cat

HERE maps Berlin-Munich by train

HERE maps car navigation view – street level (night mode)

HERE maps car navigation view – overview (night mode)

API

If you’re interested in using the routing service or map views of HEREs engine, check out https://developer.here.com/.

Conclusion

HERE maps is a performant routing app for browser and mobile usage. Because of its application in many built-in car systems, a worldwide user base and a clear UI this routing service works very good for me.

What are your experiences with HERE maps?

  • I downloaded it a few days before since I was looking for offline navigation in Africa. I think a major advantage is the possbility to download map packages and make routing offline.

  • Paul Dietl

    The problem is that HERE maps are not HERE maps. In Europe the quality of the HERE maps is quite good because its the “Navteq-Standard”. But the quality from HERE maps of Vietnam is in my opinion bad. Poor quality in accuracy, wrong attributes and other mistakes. Of course this map is better than nothing but far away from a high-quality map. It looks like that wannabe’s created this map. And when you know how HERE aquires these data … thats it. Its a wannabe map of poor quality.