Now that Apple(s AAPL) has left them an opening, competing mapmakers are wisely taking advantage. Nokia,(s NOK) the struggling smartphone maker on Tuesday announced a new mapping product called Here that will be available on a variety of platforms, including Apple’s iOS.
Here are a few details on the new Here product, as reported by the New York Times:
The company said on Tuesday that in the coming weeks it would release a maps app called Here in Apple’s App Store. It will be a free download for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch owners. Nokia also said it would release a toolkit for programmers to make Nokia-powered mapping apps for Android phones. And it is forming a partnership with Mozilla, the browser company, to develop location features for its new operating system, called Firefox OS.
Though the app isn’t released just yet, it could make Apple’s own Maps look behind the times. Here will be available online as well as when a user doesn’t have an internet connection. And more importantly for urban dwellers or those without cars, it will have public transit directions — which Apple still has yet to build into its own maps. Nokia also says that there will be turn-by-turn voice navigation for walking directions. And, it should be noted, if Nokia does expect its app to hit the iOS App Store in the next few weeks, it could beat Google(s GOOG), which is reportedly working on a new version of Google Maps for the iPhone.
Apple Maps is still the default mapping app for iOS devices running iOS 6 or later. But in the wake of the disaster that was the debut of Apple Maps, the company has encouraged users to try other maps apps while Apple improves its own product. CEO Tim Cook encouraged users to try competing apps like Bing, MapQuest, Waze and Google and Nokia maps in a web browser.
Nokia has been finetuning its mapping skills for a while, and this is probably the best opportunity in a long time (subscription required) to try to gain a new following with mobile users on iOS. Also, getting on more platforms means more user data to incorporate into its mapping product.