HERE Maps by Nokia gate5 GmbH icon

HERE Maps (Free) by Nokia gate5 GmbH is the official maps solution from Nokia for iOS users. Unfortunately, I’m also finding it to be pretty terrible.

I was genuinely excited when I heard that the Nokia maps app was approved, because hey, that could mean Google Maps has a chance. However, what I unearthed in my short time with the app is something that I could barely use.

HERE Maps by Nokia gate5 GmbH screenshot

First off, the maps are blurry. I’m using an iPhone 5, and the maps themselves just look fuzzy and definitely not sharp. I mean, what is this? Personally, I’d rather just use Apple’s Maps app over this right now — at least it isn’t an unfocused mess in terms of visuals. Or hey, how about any one of those alternative map apps that Apple was showcasing? I’m pretty sure that most of these, if not all, will look better than HERE Maps.

I know that they could have at least tried to make the maps themselves look better, because the other elements in the app, such as menus and text, are crisp and sharp. So what I see with the actual maps themselves, the part of the app that you are going to stare at the most, is a rather huge disappointment.

But it’s not all bad, I think. Searching for POIs is actually pretty decent, as the app will bring up suggestions as you type. Results will be instantly displayed on the map with a blurry icon to go with it. You can tap on these locations to bring up more data about the place, like the complete address, as well as an option to call. You can also share the locale through Twitter, Facebook, email, SMS, Google Bookmarks, Meneame, and VKontakte. If the spot has a website associated with it, there will be a link, and you can also “collect” the place in Collections to easily reference them later (this requires a Nokia account).

Of course, the most important thing when you look up something in a maps application are the directions to get there. HERE Maps will provide driving, walking, and public transit directions (if available) for any destination. You can select the starting point, the day you’re going, and even the time. HERE Maps will provide a list of step-by-step directions, like you can get in Apple Maps, and it also has turn-by-turn navigation, with a catch.

HERE Maps by Nokia gate5 GmbH screenshot

What’s the catch? Oh, just the fact that that turn-by-turn only works for walking directions — if you are going to drive, then be prepared to not have any audio help in reaching your destination. Personally, to me, this makes the app a bit pointless, doesn’t it? Sure, Apple Maps may not be perfect, but at least it doesn’t make me look at my phone constantly to make sure I’m going the right way.

HERE Maps needs to be connected to the Internet in order to get data. However, if you need access to a certain area at all times, you can actually download offline maps with varying level of detail. There are five levels of details that you can get: basic, some, average, lots, and maximum. The app warns that the more detail you want, the smaller the area of the map.

Overall, the app has decent data, but is rather slow to scroll through the maps and it’s just ridiculously blurry. However, not only do the quality of the maps bother me, but I find the app to be a bit unresponsive at times, especially when it comes to pressing buttons.

I was excited to see what competitors would come up with for map solutions, but I’m highly disappointed with what Nokia has brought out. And from the looks of the iTunes reviews, I’m not alone.

My advice? Don’t even bother downloading this.