Big news out of Nokia this week, as the company has announced that its Here mapping application is coming to Android, sort of. Nokia has signed an exclusive deal with Samsung that will see its mapping solution made available on Samsung Galaxy smartphones.
Here Maps might be up against Google Maps, but Nokia is quick to point out that Here works offline because the maps are stored on your device, eliminating the need for caching areas of your map when you know you’re going to be without service. Google Maps added improved offline caching earlier this year, and now saves entire cities for offline mapping, though Here does offer full map functionality offline.
This, along with the fact that Here for Samsung Galaxy can pair with the newly announced Gear S to sync routes to your smartwatch, is what sets it apart from Google Maps. The Gear S was announced late Wednesday night and won’t go on sale until October. Because it runs on Samsung’s own Tizen OS and not Android Wear, Here support is actually pretty crucial to the watch’s functionality.
The move makes sense for Nokia (Here wasn’t part of the sale to Microsoft, so Nokia needs to licence the software to other parties) and shows Samsung’s determination to reduce its reliance on Google’s services. It was never going to create a mapping application of its own à la Apple, so partnering with a third party is the next best thing.
Nokia says the beta of Here for Android will be available once the Gear S launches. Until then, any Android user can get their fix on the web version of Nokia’s Here.