Nokia to launch free map apps for iOS, Android

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Nokia Web map of the San Francisco Bay area.
Nokia Web map of the San Francisco Bay area. Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Nokia will attempt to challenge Apple and Google with its own free map apps slated for the iOS and Android operating systems.

Scheduled to debut before year's end, Nokia's map apps will not require an online connection to generate driving directions, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. The apps would also be geared directly toward individual consumers rather than toward Nokia's usual business customers.

Nokia already offers a map app called Here Maps, which is available for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone. The app initially supported the iPhone and iPad, but Nokia pulled the app last year over issues with iOS 7. As such, Apple and Google currently rule the map app landscape in iOS and Android, respectively. Nokia's goal is to hit the market with a rival app sporting features not offered by Apple or Google, such as full offline use.

Nokia's apps will let users download maps and search for directions offline. The navigation itself will come through satellites, the Journal explained, so the maps won't require Internet access to work. Users of Google Maps can trigger an offline mode to use downloaded maps, but the app isn't ideally designed for offline use.

Of course, Apple and Google would first have to approve Nokia's map offerings for their respective app stores. But Nokia apparently doesn't expect to run into any roadblocks.

"I'm convinced people are looking for alternatives," Nokia Here executive Sean Fernback told the Journal. "Google Maps is a good solution for many, their maps work very well, but it has looked the same and done the same for a long time."

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