CMS from above

I recently began using Google Maps a lot to guide me whenever I’m driving to unknown areas within Lagos. I don’t drive often so there’s actually a lot of places in Lagos still “unknown” to me, in the sense that I can get there easily by Danfo but I wouldn’t have the slightest clue how to get there by car.

Based on my experience, I would say Google Maps is about 75% accurate, as far as Lagos is concerned. Like Bankole always says, “you just have to apply Lagos sense” and you’ll be fine. I have always heard people say Nokia’s Here Maps has better driving directions for Lagos but I never really had the opportunity to try it out, until this past week on the Nokia X. And what do I think? I don’t know about others but there are 4 major things I’m looking for in a navigation app: I want to be able to use it offline and find the exact places I’m looking for. I also want to have flexibility and I need the directions to be accurate. Here’s how I think Here and Google Maps compare in those areas.

Offline Navigation

The biggest advantage Nokia Here has over Google is offline navigation. You can download full maps and voice guidance for specific regions (Nigeria is only about 65MB on the Nokia X) so you never have to be connected to the internet to get navigation. This also saves you a lot of data in the long run. The closet thing Google has to something like that is offline caching; you can save small areas of the map ahead of your journey. Though it’s not a very straightforward thing to do (who came up with the silly idea of typing “ok maps”) it works fine.  However, you still need to be connected to the internet for voice guidance to work. That sucks.

Winner: Here Maps

Flexibility

Google Maps offers at least 3 routes for every journey. You can review the routes and select which you think works best for you. Here Maps on the other hand always offers only one route. And if you go ever go off course, Google Maps does a better job of re-routing than Here Maps in my opinion. Here is almost always bent on getting you back on the original course, even if it means taking you all the way around, Google tries to find an alternative route, unless it is absolutely necessary you go back on course. In fairness, Google Map’s re-routing is not always spot on. But it sure does better than Here Maps, judging by my experiences.

Winner: Google Maps by a margin

Accuracy

In terms of the actual directions, I think there might be a tie. I actually haven’t used Here as often, but I know Google gives me accurate directions like 75% of the times. It may not always take you through routes you’re familiar with but it gets you there. I can’t say Here does any worse. Once though, Here Maps made me do an illegal U-turn, something that as never happened in my experience with Google Maps.

I also find that I prefer Google’s voice guidance to Here’s. Half of the time I got lost, or went off route using Here Mpas, it’s because the voice didn’t properly “articulate” the directions. Once, I was meant to mount a bridge rather than go straight, the voice told me to go straight and make a right (the bridge actually curves right). Google voice guidance interprets directions that more accurately with commands like, “slide right unto the ramp”.

Winner: Close tie

Places

As far as I am concerned, this is the clincher. All the other 3 are secondary. Of what use is offline navigation on Here Maps if you can’t find the places you’re looking for? On Google Maps, I don’t need to know the address of where I’m going. I just type the place and 8 to 9 out of 10 times, it’s there. On Here Maps, it’s more like 2 out of 10. I’m tempted to say 0.5 out of 10, but it would seem like I was exaggerating . I thought the whole point of maps was to get people to unknown places? Google wins here because Google has more “Lagos sense”. Lots of it:

here-maps-vs-google-maps-get-arena

I didn’t even have to finish typing GET Arena

Look for CcHub

Looking for CcHub

Of course, these are just 2 samples from a pool of places in Lagos but it’s somewhat representative. You don’t have to take my word for it, get your hands on both apps and try it yourself.

Winner: Google Maps

Nokia Here vs Google Maps: Just for the ease of finding places alone, Google Maps wins hands down.

Photo Credit: Bankole Oluwafemi via Compfight cc

Muyiwa Matuluko | Author

Get the best African tech newsletters in your inbox