Nokia bundles free maps app

Nokia said it will begin giving away for free the Ovi maps application that is already pre-installed on many of its recently-launched, Symbian-based, GPS-equipped smartphones.

From March, OVI Maps will be pre-installed on Nokia navigation phones, and can be downloaded from the Ovi store for existing or other models.

The new version includes higher-end navigation features, such as turn-by-turn voice guidance for up to 74 countries - with maps available for up to 100 extra countries - and will be available in 46 languages worldwide.

At the launch event in London, Nokia's executive vice president, Anssi Vanjoki, said the company wants to make using a smartphone for satellite navigation as straightforward and intuitive as using it to take photos and sending texts.

Ovi Maps will be available both online and offline and will use vectorised maps rather than bitmap based technology.

The firm will be using the technology it gained back in 2007 when it acquired map firm Navteq for £5.6 billion.

Nokia has sold more than 80 million smartphones and has been forced to bundle the map app in response to upstarts like Google and Apple.