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Ovi maps out Google competitor

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Nokia World Ovi Maps has a new beta, bringing creepy tracking and Web2.0rhea to compete with Google Mobile Maps.

The new beta sports an improved interface and better search (including suggestions). It also supports local reviews and comments, and "check-in" functionality for those who like the world to know where they are. But just to go one better than Google, there‘s also pedestrian route planning with public transport data for 80 cities, for when the quickest path goes underground as well as overground.

Much was made of Ovi Maps at the recent Nokia World event, with the company repeatedly claiming to have the best mapping and route planning experience. With this beta it also has the web 2.0 fluff that Google has been packing into Google Mobile Maps (GMM) for the last few years.

Users of Ovi Maps 3.06 beta will be able to "check in" to a location if they're not already using Facebook/Foursquare for that purpose. Integrated Twitter allows them to share feelings as well as locations, and with Places they can post opinions on businesses and services.

For those who prefer to keep themselves to themselves there‘s the much-improved interface, and integration of tubes and trams (but not buses yet) with route planning that allows for times if not schedules. If you still feel the need to drive a car then there‘s live traffic information as well.

Competing with Google to see who can give away more services seems perverse, but it's something Nokia is obliged to do as mobile phones become increasingly divorced from the task of making phone calls. This is still a (public) beta version, but if it works as advertised then Ovi Maps will be a very credible competitor to GMM, something no one else seems able to provide. ®

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