From the same guys who brought you the Vietnamese home-cooked search engine Cốc Cốc and the ultimate all-in-one web browser for Windows, Cờ Rôm+, comes a new app that’s Vietnam’s clearest competitor to Google Maps and Apple Maps. Called Nhà Nhà, it’s built and designed with the sole purpose of being your ideal travel companion.
To set itself apart from iPhone’s built-in Maps or the renowned Google Maps, Nha Nha has a different approach. For location and navigation, it trails Apple Maps and Google Maps in every aspect. What it does offer in return, however, is a huge database of local locations that might be more relevant to your searches, which you can’t obtain from the tech giants’ maps engines. This is Nha Nha’s massive advantage over Apple and Google who do not have any employees or physical presence in the country.
Upon firing up the app, Nha Nha will give you a traditional layout of five brackets you can choose from: categories, maps, history, bookmarks, and settings.
There are 18 different types of venues that you can choose from, such as hair salons, banks, ATMs, or gas stations. On tapping a designated type of venue, such as a gym, you will be directed to a map with your current location pinpointed, filled with nearby gyms. Tapping on one location will give you an option of retrieving directions to get there, either on foot or by car. During our test, Nha Nha doesn’t give specific turn-by-turn directions based on GPS like Google Maps, and instead gives you a list of steps on how to get there – just like how you’d write down directions on a piece of paper in the old days.
In Nhà Nhà’s maps, you can search with either keywords of the location or the address. During our tests, Nha Nha showed incredible accuracy. For example, we inputted the address 198 Phan Xich Long, and not only did Nha Nha give us the exact location, it also told us what kind of venue it was (in this case, it’s the office of a trading company). Up until recently, this was a problem for Google Maps, which could not pinpoint even and odd addresses accurately due to Vietnam’s unorthodox address system.
Nha Nha logs your searches in a nicely formatted list, where you can go back to locations that you were previously looking for. In here, you can contact the place (if a phone number is provided), bookmark it for future reference, get directions, view it on the map, or rate it (a Facebook account will be required for that). It reminds us of the simplicity of Foursquare and Gowalla’s at inception before the social boom made things more complex.
Nha Nha is bilingual, and you can switch between English and Vietnamese with just one tap. The app is also optimized for iOS 7 in both performance and aesthetics.
During our tests, we really enjoyed the experience that Nha Nha offered. In the past with previous apps it’d be very time-consuming to search for a phone number or the address of a specific restaurant you wanted to go to. Now Nha Nha has fixed this issue.
We just wish that the app’s categories could be a bit more useful. For instance, when tapping on ‘ATM’, we’re directed to a map filled with dozens of ATM icons with no bank name mentioned. So you have to touch every single icon just to find the right bank. Being an app that is designed to save you time, that’s quite a mis-fire.
Nha Nha will not replace Google Maps for some people in Vietnam – or Apple Maps, for that matter – but it has a lot of potential, and we believe it should become your new travel companion in Vietnam, along with other goodies like Foody, which is Vietnam’s Yelp equivalent.
Currently, Nha Nha only has 100,000 downloads, and the strategy is unclear where the app will head next, but with the rich data, it looks promising.
(Editing by Josh Horwitz)