Nokia has strengthened the app library for its new Asha platform today with HERE Maps, offering search and accurate turn-by-turn directions for its next wave of low-end smartphones.
HERE Maps is but one of the Finnish phone maker’s most popular software tools, given that it offers ‘true’ offline maps for download and viewing when the user is without an Internet connection. It’s already available on Windows Phone 8, Android and Firefox OS, but the introduction on an Asha device shows that Nokia is prepared to back its new emerging mobile platform.
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The Asha 501 is the only handset to leverage the new Asha platform, built on top of the Series 40 mobile operating system, but Nokia will undoubtedly launch new handsets to cope with the influx of low-end Android smartphones in emerging markets.
The HERE Maps app for the new Asha platform enables the user to search for places and addresses in nearly 200 countries, before grabbing numerous directions depending on whether the user is driving, walking or using public transport.
“Pedestrian routes are of course specifically calculated to use parks, open buildings and stairs when possible,” Nokia’s Pino Bonetti said. “If you’re getting around by car, you will benefit from real-time traffic information visualized on the map so you can adjust your route on the fly and be smarter about making your way wherever you’re going.”
Nokia has emphasized that the current iteration of the app is just “a starting point” and will be improved over time with new features and improved aerial imagery.
It’s a signficant addition for the new Asha platform, which Nokia says now powers smartphones, rather than feature phones. The Asha 501 and subsequent devices still run on Series 40, however, and the reduced functionality shows in its ability to multi-task and run more elaborate or demanding apps.
HERE Maps is, therefore, a way for Nokia to prove the prowess of its new platform and also extend the userbase of its in-house software. With the first commercial Firefox OS devices launching in Spain this week and a couple of mid-range BlackBerry 10 devices on the horizon, Nokia needs to prove that the Asha 501 still offers superior value for money.
If it can start bringing over some of its other exclusive apps, such as Nokia Music or Nokia City Lens, that claim would be fortified somewhat.