If you missed it, Nokia recently announced a new Beta interface for HERE. This beta showcases a new interface for its desktop website, along with new improvements. Here is my first impressions while testing it out:
The very first thing I noticed is that the HERE.com Beta looks a lot like the latest Google Maps redesign -- there is a search bar on the upper left, which floats over a full window map. HERE.com also includes a button in the top right, which opens a menu pane on the right side of your screen. In addition, a star button accompanying the menu gives easy access to your collections. The direction button is also built into the search bar, like Google Maps.
The UI also faces the same criticism that one might find with Google Maps -- most features are just harder to get to. The current version has a bar at the top to navigate between exploring, collections, directions, traffic, and easy links to other features. The beta UI pushes most of these to the new menu system.
Using the bar has its own collection of ups and downs. When you start typing, suggestions show up very fast, however there are not many options. For example, if I type 'Santa', the only suggestions are Santa Monica and Santa Ana, while ignoring Santa Cruz. Google Maps on the other hand, suggested Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Santa Clara, and, Santa Barbara. This may vary by country, but more worrying is that the search suggestions don't seem complete.
HERE.com Beta also offers a little window like Google Maps, which opens, allowing you to search for local interests. For example, searching for Los Angeles gives you a window under the search bar with options for Eat and Drink, Going Out, Sights and Museums, Leisure and outdoor, Accommodation, and Facilities.
These above features are neat, but nothing special. In addition, they are definitely not what you would probably use to plan your night/trip. A service such as Yelp has many more reviews and pictures to help you get a better feeling for your destination. However, to be fair, no mapping service offers anything much better.
These were just a few first impressions, and doesn't cover much! If this preview interests you, we recommend you check it out yourselves. On an ending note, here is a screenshot of the current Google Maps interface.