Just yesterday, HERE Beta sent out an update with a few minor improvements. Today, they came out like gangbusters by dropping the beta label and adding some serious polish to the app. This navigation app, perhaps the most serious challenger to Google Maps, is developed by once-ubiquitous OEM Nokia. Now, they think they are ready for showtime.
It's really a quite nice looking app and has become popular for its solid international support.
Nokia's Here maps app has proven a popular alternative to Google Maps, thanks largely to its strong international support and offline navigation mode. There's an update rolling out today that improves mapping data across a number of countries and adds new turn-by-turn locations.
For years, Google Maps has been a compelling reason to own an Android device, but it's not the only mobile navigation service out there worth your time. Nokia's HERE service has built a name for itself, attracting users thanks to its presence on competing platforms and a number of strengths, such as the ability to store maps for offline viewing/navigation and the presence of data in countries Google essentially considers the middle of nowhere.
Nokia is taking the stage today at Slush 2014, the Eurasian tech incubator event in Helsinki, to announce its N1 tablet with Android 5.0 Lollipop. This is the original Nokia we're talking about here, the one still in Finland, that includes all the divisions that didn't get bought by Microsoft. Part of me wants to scream, "You should have taken this route 4 years ago!" while the other is just too happy to see Nokia standing on its feet and trying something again — while also reviving the Nseries monicker.
Earlier this year, Nokia surprised everyone by developing an interesting Android app called Z Launcher. Back then, it was only available for beta participants as an APK download on Nokia's website. Today, along with its Android N1 tablet announcement at Slush 2014, the company has revealed that Z Launcher is making its official debut on the Play Store.
Update 10/2/14: The initial beta APK (1.0-124) started showing an expiration message and stopped working, but a newer beta APK (1.0-172) has popped up. We've validated its legitimacy, and it indeed no longer shows the expiration message. Download it here (thanks, Branko Kostic!).
Last month Nokia announced that it would release a version of its highly-regarded HERE mapping and navigation app for Android, but only to licensed partners, starting with Samsung.
For the longest time, my only involvement with smartphones was limited to Nokia's Symbian devices, then I bought an HTC Desire Z in February 2011 and the rest, as they say, is history. I was immediately ecstatic about most of the Android experience save for two aspects where my heart strings kept tugging back to my Nokia N8: photography and mapping. Android cameras have improved a lot over the past three years — I am amazed by the Lumia 1020's scary-good 41MP sensor, but my LG G3 does an excellent job 99% of the time — and so did Google Maps, but at no point has Google's mapping service completely levelled up with parts of the experience that I used to get through Nokia Maps, even in 2010 on an N8.
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.
Every major corporation has to fire people at some point. But Microsoft's plan to eliminate 18,000 jobs this year is, to say the least, a big deal. The company announced its plans on a blog post titled "Starting to Evolve Our Organization and Culture," written by new CEO Satya Nadella. Former Nokia employees will bear the brunt of this downsize, with 12,500 office and factory workers from the Finnish phone giant being laid off.
The big question on everyone's mind when Nokia revealed the Android-powered X line was whether their new masters at Microsoft would continue the line after the acquisition. It looks like Redmond is ready for another lap around the Android pool, at least in conjunction with its extensively-customized software load, because Nokia just announced the X2 for immediate release. The 99 Euro ($135) phone is "available immediately in select countries globally." Both global and select, huh?