Nokia launches HERE maps for iPhone and iPad

Nokia has launched a new, free maps app for iOS, called HERE maps. Since Nokia owns NAVTEQ, one of the world's very few sources of comprehensive mapping data (the other's being Tele Atlas, owned by TomTom and licensed by Apple, and Google), and they've been producing mobile maps apps for years, formerly on Symbian and now on Windows Mobile, the quality will likely be very good.

Maps are available in 200 countries and can be presented in map view (standard line art), satellite view, public transportation view, and live traffic view. Where available, you can also access community view, that includes crowdsourced data that hopes to be even more current. Like any good maps app, you can search for locations, get search suggestions, and share locations you find.

There's routing, of course, and you can get step-by-step voice navigation... for walking directions. But not for driving directions, which is really odd. You can also get public transport directions.

While the app itself uses HTML5 with off-board maps downloaded as needed, you can save maps locally for when you may be in areas without data coverage. You can also group places you frequent, or simply like, into Collections.

The interface is very flat, filled with sold colors, and while not Metro-esque (or whatever Microsoft is calling the Windows Phone design language these days), it does stick to similar basics. The controls are different enough from iOS maps that they'll take some getting used to.

Nokia HERE maps for iOS is also nowhere near as fleshed out or fully featured as Nokia Maps for Windows Phone 8 (check out WPCentral's full Nokia Maps for Windows Phone 8 preview to get a better sense of just what the differences are.) But that stands to reason. This is a 1.0 and it's on a competing platform. Baby steps. For now.

Yet, while Apple continues to struggle with mapping quality and Google continues to posture, dissemble, and fret about the state of their own iOS Maps app, Nokia announced and shipped.

Take that.