Barnes & Noble announced the first map app for the Nook today and in doing so they broke my heart. Rather than go with Bing Maps (from their partner Microsoft), the Nook now has a paid and free map apps from Berlin based Skobbler.
The app in question is an OpenStreetMap compliant ForeverMap 2, and it comes in both free app and paid flavors. I’m only seeing the paid option at the moment, though. The $5 app has an offline mode and the ability to download specific city and regional maps, while the listing says that the free app only lets you see apps while online.
I’m not sure how much use the free app will see, given that the Nook Tablet only has Wifi. Yes, hotspots are prevalent now, but you might as well use the Google Maps website while you’re at one. I certainly found the mobile site usable for navigating around Boston.
B&N is also promising that more location based apps will soon be available for the Nook Tablet . Skobbler is going to make an API available to developers. It’s called GeOS, and when it leaves beta some time next year developers will be able to build commercial apps based on OpenSteetMap.
Of course, this wouldn’t be as big of a news story if not for the fact that Barnes & Noble is keeping the Nook tablet locked down as an enhanced ereader. If they’d open it up and let it be the tablet it could be, NT owners would have the option of any number of map apps.
The Kindle Fire, on the other hand, has had the option maps ever since it shipped. Thanks to the more open nature of the KF. all you had to do was find a free app and install it. And given that numerous map apps are listed in the Amazon Appstore, this actually isn’t that hard. What’s more, at least a couple of the free apps in the Amazon Appstore have an offline mode.
I also have to wonder the value of location based apps on a Wifi equipped device; given that you’d have to navigate from hotspot to hotspot, I don’t see what the app would add when away from the hotspots.
On the other hand, today’s news leads me to wonder if B&n might have a 3G equipped Nook in the works. That would seem to make more sense for location based apps than the current Wifi model, don’t you think?