Ovi Maps is a great navigation program if you don't want to rack up expensive data roaming bills, because Nokia's voice navigation app lets you store all maps on your phone, unlike competing programs like Google Maps which require a live data connection all the time.
The stripped version of Ovi Maps (without guides and voice navigation) is free. Voice navigation and guides are free on all new Nokia phones, and on a few older Nokias (free on Nokia 5800 XM, 6710, 6730, C5, C6, E5, E52, E55, E66, E71, E72, N8, N86, N97 (mini), and X6 as of October 3, 2010). Older Nokias don't get voice navigation for free because Nokia wants you to ditch your old phone and buy a new Nokia. But at 10 euros a year for older phones a license for Ovi Maps is not that expensive. According to Nokia, the 10 euro fee is for covering the costs of giving you a license (read: you pay 10 euros so Nokia can process your €10 payment). You can save Nokia and yourself the €10 processing cost by using one of the unofficial free versions of the program instead.
Map coverage is not as good as for Google Maps, but Ovi Maps works well in Europe, the USA, and Japan, and it's usable in the major cities of India unless you're looking for the Taj Mahal. There are many spots of terra incognito in the rest of the world. The city and country travel guides in Ovi Maps are so incomplete that they border on being useless, even though they come from companies like Michelin and Lonely Planet. On the bright side, you can use your own voice for voice navigation if you're willing to spend time on recording the instructions, and recently Nokia added cell tower triangulation for faster positioning.
Unfortunately Nokia made downloading maps impossible for Linux and Mac users and anyone else who can't install Ovi Suite or Maps Updater on a PC with Windows, .NET, and a set of rather heavy system requirements (try it on a netbook if you're of the masochistic type). That's where the Nokia Map Loader Alternative proves its usefulness. It points to the map files on Nokia's own server. With the Nokia Map Loader Alternative you can download Nokia's maps with any web browser on any operating system. You can even use a browser on your phone, so you can preload maps without having to touch a computer at all.
The Nokia Map Loader Alternative is updated with maps for the latest version of Ovi Maps 3.x. The most recent map version is 00_02_41_123 (this is the version of the map data, not of the program itself). Of course you can also download maps for older versions of Ovi Maps and Nokia Maps, including Nokia Maps 2.0 if your phone won't run Ovi Maps 3.
Load maps on your phone without Nokia Maps Updater:
• Nokia Map Loader and Nokia Maps Updater Alternative
The following links may be useful for you:
Ovi Maps 3 doesn't work on older Symbian phones. Check the Ovi Maps site to see if your phone will run Ovi Maps 3. If it doesn't, try Nokia Maps 2.0 instead.
• Ovi Maps and Nokia Maps Updater from nokia.com
• archived copy of Nokia Maps 2.0 (with free voice navigation) on Mobile Castle
If you want to download Ovi Maps without Ovi Suite:
• Ovi Maps v3.03.246 at GizmoGates
• Ovi Maps 3.04 10wk17 b07 at Ziddu (modified to install on your memory card, useful if you're short on internal phone memory)
• Nokia Ovi Maps v.3.04.278 at Ziddu (signed, so you don't have to hunt for certificates or hack your phone)
• Ovi Maps Beta v3.06(78) at GizmoGates (beta test version, only for very new Nokias)
Saturday, 2 October 2010