Maps have always provided us with more information than just how to get from A to B. Maps record the whole of human history, charting how our global society has grown and the challenges it has faced. From the exploration of new territories to the ever-shifting boundaries in areas of conflict, maps allow us to understand not just where we are, but also how we got there.
Of course, technology has moved on significantly since the times of explorers such as Magellan, Columbus and Cook, and satellites have allowed us to refine cartography to a precise science.
However, our relationship with maps is changing. Maps are becoming increasingly interactive and key elements in our social lives, allowing us to meet up with friends, plan our holidays and discover new and exciting experiences. As we’ve seen recently, people are beginning to map the landscapes of our imaginations – even including Gotham City. At Nokia, we believe that the map is a user interface through which we live and organise our lives.
Bringing maps alive
Maps should be more than just a collection of locations or a close-to-perfect geographical representation of the world. They should come alive with people and places, stories and activities. They should provide a reflection of how we live our lives today, documenting experiences, conversations, relationships and events.
At Nokia we believe that location is a crucial provider of context for people. We believe maps, in the broadest sense, are a platform to surface, produce and consume information, enabling us to make the most of our lives, from optimizing a journey (with Nokia Transport and Nokia Drive) to discovering our local environment (with Nokia Maps and Nokia City Lens) to sharing experiences.
We believe in experiences that are fluid across contexts and situations so that we don’t have to care about what device we are using but instead concentrate on what we want to achieve.
A hub for everything
This is why we are busy developing maps.nokia.com: to provide a hub for everything relating to when, where and how people live their lives, and allows you to feel like a local wherever you may be.
Already maps.nokia.com helps us to understand where we are, find any place, and the best way to get there through multi-modal directions. It’s enabling richer experiences: we can discover the world in 3D or get the feeling for what’s going on in a particular neighborhood with heat maps. And this is only the beginning of the journey.
Maps throughout history have provided us with an anthropological insight into the world. And now, as technology increasingly shapes how we interact with our environments, we have the opportunity like never before to make maps reflect how we live our lives.
The mission behind Nokia Maps is to help people understand, navigate and discover the world around them and feel like a local wherever they are. Whether you are traveling or staying in your city, you want to discover things; it is only the dimension of discovery which differs. We all meet friends and then need to agree on a place to go. We all learn things about the city we live in from people visiting and reading guides and articles. We all discuss what is the coolest neighbourhood or place. The city and place pages (London, New York, Beijing and Melbourne, for example) show the first steps in how we want to help people explore and discover their worlds.
Another key area of progress is 3D maps that look beautiful; but are they useful? We launched 3D maps at Where 2.0 last April and received amazing feedback from the industry. Using 3D is one way to represent the world in a more realistic manner and we have focused on leveraging photorealistic 3D to help people explore and navigate their worlds.
We need to think more about how different people relate to maps as well as the types of experiences maps support. Exploring a neighbourhood, discovering places, getting a view of the public transit lines or getting directions all require different views of the map and different people might feel more comfortable with different views for similar usage cases. We will bring new innovations to 3D maps in the future.
Nokia is known for mobile products so, you might ask, why create maps.nokia.com for a desktop browser? The answer is that Nokia Maps has long been synonymous with Nokia Symbian phones and we have years of experience in building a great mapping and navigation experience.
A different experience
We understand that people expect experiences that transcend platforms and screens and can serve their needs irrespective of underlying technology platforms. At home and with larger screens at their disposal, people can experience things differently, while on mobile most usage cases are driven by immediate needs and questions.
We believe there are many ways to explore, navigate and discover the world around you. It’s not only about putting a term in a search box, it is about getting recommendations, about understanding how neighborhoods are alive, and many more things we are working on.
We also believe maps are deeply emotional and we need to revive the personal attachment people have always had with paper maps.