I have been trialing out a Nokia Lumia 820 recently, and haven being an Android user for quite a long time, I am finding the Windows Phone 8 experience, to put it mildly, a bit different. There are some features that are certainly good, while there are others that seem so straight forward on Android that it makes one wonder what Microsoft were thinking. Having said that, the Live Tiles concept is new and probably will take a little time to get used to. Now before I go into these details, I’d actually like to review probably one of the best apps that are available on this system, Nokia Drive Beta.
The app provides turn by turn voice navigation for a lot of countries around the planet, and this makes it particularly useful in the countries where sat-navs are not as popular as they are in the UK. However, we have had very good sat-navs for a long time now, and that gives this app some good competition. Also, it is worth remembering that this app is still in Beta.
The beauty of this app, over a lot of other FREE apps available in the market, and specially the Android market, is that it allows you to download maps for offline navigation. This means that much like your Tomtom device, this works whether you have an active internet connection or not. It also means that if you get lost in a no signal area, this will still be working for you. While Google maps allows you to download routes before you head out, it does not allow you to do that while you are stuck somewhere.
The app usage and GUI itself is straight forward. However, searching for destinations seems a little confusing as it gives you the city name under the search box. Forgetting this, just enter your address as well as you remember, and let it find it for you. I had no trouble with this.
As far as the navigation goes, it is very responsive and guides you well. It also will give you a beep if you are travelling above the speed limit.
Like most navigational apps, it provides you with a 3D map and lets you navigate yourself to it.
As far as usage goes, the BETA phase is rightly so as there are certain problems that I noticed:
While the map could see the road easily, the navigation thought it had ended, and had to reroute itself despite being on the same road.
There were times when I was given the wrong instruction. E.g, to take the 1st left instead of the 2nd on a roundabout, despite the map showing me otherwise. This could provide a lot of confusion, specially in a city like London.
It does not give you options as to how it is routing you. It got a bit confused when I deliberately went off its suggested route and while it rerouted itself, most of the times that meant it telling me to go back.
While navigating, you get your speed, the distance to the next move and time to destination. Data such as total distance to navigation, or time left etc. is not provided.