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Nokia is generally regarded as the best maker of Windows-powered phones on the market, which is probably why Microsoft snatched them up. While most of that attention is focused on the Finnish company's solid hardware, Nokia's custom HERE mapping platform has also received rave reviews, with many saying it outperforms Microsoft's own maps. Now Nokia is bringing a beta version of HERE Maps to Android... but strangely, only on Samsung hardware.


The announcement was made on the official HERE website, highlighting the app's capability of turn-by-turn navigation without the need for an Internet connection. It achieves this by downloading cached maps for entire countries and regions for use offline. Other advanced features include basic 3D rendering for some cities, live traffic reporting, and public transit routes in some locations. 

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So why Samsung? Nokia's news post includes a mention of a licensing agreement (read: Samsung paid for it), but they're also expanding functionality to the new Tizen-based Gear S smartwatch. If I had to guess, I'd say that Samsung is once again looking for a differentiator against the larger Android world, not only for its phones, but also for its own Tizen-based wearables, to try and give them a specific advantage against Android Wear. The Samsung edition of HERE will also support the location-sharing service Glympse. Nokia has probably already invested at least some effort into an Android version of HERE for its own X series of budget Android-powered phones.

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Nokia HERE maps currently support "almost 200 countries," with navigation in "almost 100," live traffic in more than 40, and public transit information in over 750 cities. The Samsung rollout will begin via the proprietary Samsung Galaxy Apps store when the Gear S watch launches in October.

Source: Nokia HERE 360

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • someone755

    The best mobile maps and navigation.
    Nokia could've sold a license to pretty much anyone. But they only choose Samsung.

    • KojiroAK

      Probably Samsung paid pretty well.
      After all, in business only the gaining decides.

    • jj14x

      Well, they chose to sell it to the largest smartphone manufacturer. You can be sure Sammy must have paid them enough for that too.
      Now to see if Sammy chooses to install this into the internal storage of the new devices, and increases the bloat by 1-2GB (Next Galaxy S# device - 16GB storage - "Fine print - only 4GB may be available for user")

    • mark

      But are other companies willing to buy? Maybe they will as a result of this.

      Here maps are already licensed to other companies, so your insult isn't even correct; this is just the first for android.

      • someone755

        I was referring to this as the first for Android.
        It's just stupid, seeing as how much better Here is than anything any other Android company can offer (be it OEM or an app developer).

        • Roger Siegenthaler

          Well... garmin and co. are also good. albeit not free.

          • someone755

            That's what makes them bad.
            If I'm giving that much cash just to have navigation without an internet connection, I'm better off grabbing a separate navigation system.

    • http://360.here.com/ Jere at HERE

      Hi I'm Jere from the HERE team.

      Today we announced HERE for Samsung Galaxy smart phones and HERE for Samsung Gear S. Tomorrow (well... Monday), we will continue our work on extending the availability to new people, screens and operating systems. Expect to hear more still this year ;)

      • someone755

        Or just wait for the Sammy watch and the release of HERE and get that apk working on other phones *wink, wink*

        • http://360.here.com/ Jere at HERE

          Shh! :)

        • X-47B

          Tizen don't have apk's

          • someone755

            Good thing the Samsung Galaxy line of devices runs Tizen.

      • jj14x

        So, we will 'hear' from 'Jere' at 'here' this 'year'! Kewl :)

        Jokes apart, good to hear from you :) Nokia's HERE maps is pretty good, especially the turn-by-turn without data access (are ya listening El Goog??? See how it should have been done?)

      • Lenny

        Great news, I just bought Here+ for my lumia and would gladly pay another $20 to get it on my nexus.

        I had to use Googles own solution today, boy I wish I brought my lumia along :(

      • primalxconvoy

        And yet HERE we all are, with no download link HERE, which means that you have failed HERE by announcing too soon.

  • brainimpact

    Microsoft did not buy Nokia, they purchased the hardware business from Nokia, big difference.

  • Balaal Ashraf

    Well not once the APK is taken out of the Samsungs..

    Same thing happened with Flipboard on the S3, soon after they made it available to all

    • Lisandro

      they're new to android they don't know any better.

      • http://360.here.com/ Jere at HERE

        Hi I'm Jere from the HERE team. We do have an Android application for Nokia X smart phones, so we are not completely new to the world of .apk's :)

        • Rhyn

          yeah we have those apps too.. not exactly on nokia X

  • Linus De Paoli

    How long until somebody rips the apk to be installed on other android phones???

    • jonathan3579

      I'll probably give it a go once that happens.

  • Lisandro

    Could anyone declare Elop as medically insane?
    and make null and void anything he did at Nokia

  • J.J.

    i have no issue with this. true offline mapping will be welcome. i would probably use google for the everyday stuff and nokia when i have a bad signal.

  • Ahmad Nadeem

    I'd give it a few days after the launch. XDA is watching

  • Dominick White

    I will have to try this on the wife note 3.. I hope this comes to more android phones, this will only force Google to keep on improving maps

  • Android Crook

    Here's to hoping this will appear on XDA

    [MOD][PORT][SMALI][APKTOOL][NOKIA]Here Maps for ALL Android

    Pls buy beer/juice.....

  • Shadab

    HERE has best offline navigation...IMO

  • nikolas

    Samsung makes another move away from the big G. People never learn.

    • Hans Pedersen

      People just loves to read too much into things to feed their own anger... :D

      Here's a thought. How likely do you think it is that you'll ever see Google optimise their Maps for Tizen watches? This is probably just the best alternative Samsung had for offering a functional fitness tracker/navigation for their new stand-alone watch.

      • nikolas

        Anger? Not really Hans. I just think that their last moves show that they want to make their own software platform or at least have an alternative. Which is not bad, but it doesn`t mean it will be successful. That last part of my sentence is what im trying to say. Do you really see Tizen Os succeeding ?


        • Hans Pedersen

          On devices like smartwatches Tizen has every chance in the world to succeed, as it's both more flexible than Android Wear and more importantly a lot more energy efficient. If Google don't hurry up, Samsung might win the smartwatch wars.

    • primalxconvoy

      Considering that using Google Maps isn't the most intuitive or user friendly experience in the world, then I hope more competition to Maps comes out. Perhaps this will encourage them to finished their half-arsed service?

  • Martin Cohen

    How does this compare with Navigon and Co-Pilot, both of which have extensive offline maps and I have?

  • primalxconvoy

    No download link at the announcement page. Bit of a poor announcement for a beta of there is no link for said announced link.

  • Xeratun

    This post is a bit misleading. It implies that Microsoft bought the entirety of Nokia when it only bought a piece. Also it says Nokia's maps are better than Microsoft's when Microsoft licenses Nokia's mapping data.

    Compare this article to your former colleague, Ron Amadeo over at arstechnica: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2014/08/samsung-licenses-here-maps-still-trying-to-escape-the-google-ecosystem/