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Review HERE Beta
A maps competitor that has potential but still needs some work
Author: Brandon Girod
Date: 13 Dec 2014, tested on HTC One M8
Good tracking and finds your location quickly, good voice-navigation, displays the speed limit for the road you're driving on
Still suffers from minor bugs, erases voice-navigation settings if you clear your cache
HERE Beta for Android is a navigational app that actually displays the speed limit of the road you’re driving on, which is more than enough for me to give it a look. This is actually being developed and released by Nokia, and has recently added support for a ton of new devices. One of the main features it's touting is the ability to use its maps offline; which is something that can already be done in Google Maps.
So, while Google Maps might already have offline mode integration built in, this app actually lets you know what the speed limit is on the road you’re driving on. That means no more wondering whether the speed limit on that road you drive once a month is 35 or 45 mph. It also comes with an annoying speeding warning that you’ll obviously want to turn off as soon as you turn it on. Unless you’re one of those guys who likes to drive the speed limit in the passing lane.
I took the app out on a test drive to Starbucks and it worked really well. When I first started the search, it didn’t start trying to pull up locations while I was typing, though I had seen it do that for other places. It did, however, find the correct store I wanted to go to. Getting from the regular overhead view into the actual navigation mode did take some time as well, but it found my location relatively quickly, and tracked me well. It can calculate how fast you’re going and accurately predict how long it will take you to get to your destination based on your speed, and it seemed like it might be able to pull traffic information from another source; though I can’t confirm that for sure.
One bug I noticed was that the notification in my lock screen, and notification drop down menu, always wanted me to make a U turn, no matter where I was along my route. This initially threw me off guard, until I realized that it didn't matter where I was.
I think the HERE Beta is a good step in the right direction. But it’s hard to really be able to keep up with the juggernaut that is Google Maps. This does everything you really need it to, but it just doesn’t do it as well, and doesn’t have the same polish you’d find in Google Maps either. If, however, you’re looking for a new maps alternative, then this definitely seems suitable, and will hopefully only get better over time.