HERE launched new navigation and mapping app for iOS today with a nicely done user interface and set of advanced features to compete against the Google Maps, Apple’s own native Maps upfront. HERE has a strong focus on navigation, with live traffic available in more than 40 countries around the world and real-time public transit information available for 25 cities. Most importantly, it has taken offline navigation to a whole new level.

Counterpoint Team had an opportunity to use this app for few days prior of its launch. Our overall hands-on experiences regarding key features and user interfaces are as follows.

Design & UI-Menu

Menu &UI-Here App

 Figure: Menu and User Interface (Click to Zoom)

  • Clean, simple UI with organized layout
  • Would love to see “transit” option right there after Maps & Drive in the side menu
  • Prominent ‘Offline’ & ‘Download Maps’ in the Menu is smart and straight away highlights the “value proposition”
  • Speaks High Quality & Premium Navigation
  • The Settings tab also is pretty simple and covers all bases
  • Speed alerts are very useful but didn’t understand the dual settings here and only with 0-30 kmph scale, looks redundant

Search, Collections, Map Layers, POIs

Collection

 Figure: Collections & Map Layers (Click to Zoom)

  • Overall panning and zooming is very smooth. Every interaction within the app is buttery smooth
  • The layers drawer is pretty intuitive and useful
  • The Collections feature is one of the bright spots, well implemented, easy to access and cloud sync with the account is very useful
  • For search, would love to have voice search or Siri Integration

Search-here-app

 Figure: Search & POIs Integrated Interface (Click to Zoom)

  • Searching for destination is also well implemented but couldn’t find the ‘categories’ as in Android HERE app
  • Presenting various categories could be very helpful when doing a quick search
  • Integrating richer POI info and ability to save and share is also very important and completes the experience
  • Also picking up from “recent” history is a good option but seems to be a bit hidden in the “Drive” option

Offline Maps & Search

offline-maps-search

 Figure: Offline Maps & Search (Click to Zoom)

  • Comprehensive availability of offline maps across regions, countries, states, cities level and to make it usable completely without data connection is the biggest differentiator and value add.
  • “You don’t need data connection to use navigation” is the biggest USP that can be marketed and HERE could charge a premium for
  • The POI information in “offline” mode is also quite rich and offers a brilliant UX and value to users
  • Google fails to offer this feature comprehensively and saving a part of map available offline is highly disappointing

Multimodal Drive Mode – Navigation Options

Multimodal Drive Mode

 Figure:  Multimodal Drive Mode – Navigation Options (Click to Zoom)

  • Multi-modal navigation summary is super-useful and upfront offers a consolidation of options available for a user to reach the destination in a best possible way
  • Including “delay or traffic” info in the route options is very useful
  • Additionally offering multiple transit route options depicts HERE’s aim to help user reach his destination with best possible/suitable option
  • Segregating Drive & Maps is one the best way to approach a navigation/POI search app from usability and use-case perspective rather than intertwining search & navigation from start

Summary

  • This is hands-down the best-in-class Search, Maps & Navigation app on iOS. Period.
  • Fully baked Offline navigation capabilities right out of the box is the biggest differentiator for HERE and offers tremendous value for iOS users which have been starved of good mapping & navigation app. Saving entire maps rather than an area propels HERE way ahead in location mapping race.
  • HERE is offering an impeccable design with this app from usability and features standpoint from search to routing to navigation
  • Multi-Modal search, routing and navigation options summary with detailed traffic and multiple route info gets the core job done in a most handsome way
  • Turn-By-Turn Navigation is the core feature and is highly accurate with the broadest reach in 100+ countries with voice guided spoken street names and works flawlessly in offline mode as well
  • The richer POI information and ability to save and share with account sync offers significant value to the users and doesn’t have to exit the app for rich search. All in one place.
  • Saving locations in favorites as well as appearance in recent history with cross-device and mobile/web trip planning is a great feature in this highly connected world where users handoff tasks from web to mobile or device to device
  • Transit routing info is also a big value add with capability to work offline and in 950+ cities is again a clear differentiator for HERE. Not only for normal use-case scenarios but impacts most in scenarios where users are stuck in places without internet coverage and would like to find their way easily. Would love to have Transit included in Menu drawer next to Drive & Maps
  • Would love to see Siri integration for voice guided handsfree search
  • Would love to see more personalization features – user, vehicle profiles, smarter recommendation engines, pick POIs from Facebook checkins and save into Favorites or History

About Author

Neil is a sought-after frequently-quoted Industry Analyst with a wide spectrum of rich multifunctional experience. He is a knowledgeable, adept, and accomplished strategist. In the last 11 years he has offered expert strategic advice that has been highly regarded across different industries especially in telecom. Prior to Counterpoint, Neil worked at Strategy Analytics as a Senior Analyst (Telecom). Neil also had an opportunity to work with Philips Electronics in multiple roles. He is also an IEEE Certified Wireless Professional with a Master of Science (Telecommunications & Business) from the University of Maryland, College Park, USA.