As you may have heard, HERE Maps will no longer be available for Windows 10 Mobile come 29 March. Windows Phone 8.1 users have it for a little longer, but HERE Maps as we know it, is as good as dead. The good news is, Microsoft’s Windows Maps team has just released a new Windows 10 Maps app, available to Windows Insiders in the Fast ring.
When Microsoft bought over Nokia’s mobile’s business, it didn’t secure rights to the HERE mapping suite. However, it has been licensing HERE maps data for use with its own maps app.
While, I’ll miss HERE Maps, the Windows Maps team thinks they’ve got mapping down pat. It already has many features we need – local search, robust offline capability, 3D cities and imagery.
The new update brings multi search functionality that lets you view several searches on a single map view at the same time.
Why is this important?
Take for instance this scenario. You’re searching for hotels and restaurants. With the new update, you can view both search results at the same time, layered on top of each other, or as tabs. This makes for convenient, one click reference.
In terms of UI, the Maps team have fine-tuned and enhanced navigation for better usability and wayfinding.
Navigation is now positioned on top, on desktop; and at the bottom on a phone. On a phone, this directly improves the experience of using the phone with one hand. A simple move, but an effective one.
Other improvements with the update include the addition of labels on search results, directly on the map instead of referencing numbers on the search list. The name of each place now appears directly on the map.
Additionally, for markets that offer nearby search results, Microsoft has improved the algorithms to deliver closer and better search results.
Search results, direction and location info can now be minimized so you have a better view of the map.
Also, Microsoft has added search to 3D cities.
Even in offline mode, your favourites are still available. You can also add notes to your favourites.
When Cortana is enabled, you’ll receive turn-by-turn directions in Cortana’s voice. It’s currently supported for English (United States), English (United Kingdom), Simplified Chinese (China), French (France), Italian (Italy), German (Germany) and Spanish (Spain).
Another improvement you’ll find useful has to do with public transport routes. Windows Maps tells you when it’s time to get off the bus, via turn-by-turn instructions.
Last but not least, based on the greatest amount of user feedback, the team has made improvements to the UI of turn-by-turn instructions. Layout in landscape mode has improved, and glanceability has been improved overall too.
If you’re using Windows Maps, don’t hesitate to share feedback with the team through Feedback Hub.
The update is timely, as we’re just less than two weeks before HERE Maps goes by way of the dodo.
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