Nokia’s Berlin based HERE mapping and navigation subsidiary, which provides the mapping software for Windows phones, has signed a deal with Samsung to bring its maps and location platform services to the Korean vendor’s smart devices.
Nokia has issued a press release emphasising the app’s availability on Samsung’s recently announced Samsung Gear S smartwatch, but there is also a version for Android powered Galaxy phones and tablets.
HERE will power the Gear S’s Navigator app, which offers turn-by-turn walk navigation and public transit routing. “The app provides a complete stand-alone experience, including the ability to store map data locally on the device and use it offline for navigation, directions and search.”
But the reals news is that Navigator will pair with a new Android HERE app. This app is still in beta (pre-release) and is available only for Samsung devices, but it will not now be difficult to port it to other Android devices.
Nokia says the app will be made available for download from the Samsung Galaxy Apps store “when the Samsung Gear S hits stores,” but it is obvious from the announcement that it is a fully blown version of HERE for Samsung Android.
“Android fans rejoice,” writes HERE’s Pino Bonetti in a blog announcing the new app. “Today we’re happy to announce HERE (beta) for Android. Thanks to a licensing deal with Samsung, it will be available for free, exclusively for Galaxy smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S5.”
When Nokia sold its phone division to Microsoft, it kept HERE and much of its other mobile software, which it licenses to Microsoft. Now we see why.
HERE is very well regarded, and is superior to Google Maps in some areas. Its offline capabilities are much better. It is no newcomer – it grew out of Nokia’s acquisition of US car navigation company Navteq in 2007.
The availability of HERE on Samsung – and possible other Android devices – poses a major challenge to Google Maps. Consumers will be the ones who benefit.