Samsung unveiled its new new smartwatch yesterday, the Tizen-powered Gear S that’s capable of making calls and going online without relying on a smartphone. Other features, as noted at the time, include turn-by-turn navigation provided by Nokia’s HERE mapping platform.
Today, Nokia revealed further details of its plans for HERE, announcing it will be used on Tizen smartphones (and wearables), while a new licensing agreement with Samsung will see HERE launch on Android for the first time, albeit exclusively for its Galaxy-branded smartphones. It will be classed as a ‘beta’ product initially.
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This deal will also enable you to pair the app with the upcoming Samsung Gear S, meaning you can sync routes between your wrist and your phone.
The free app is obviously up against the omnipresent Google Maps, but the real kicker is that HERE will work fully sans internet connection, just as it does on Windows Phone. HERE for Android will let you download entire countries and regions, much like TomTom, or OpenStreetMap-powered alternatives such as Skobbler (now owned by Telenav). This means navigation should be faster, as the maps are stored locally on your device.
GPS itself is free to use on mobile, but normally what you pay for with Google Maps is the data connection between your phone and Google’s servers where the maps reside, though you can make sections available offline. With HERE, you will be able to download your desired country or region over WiFi and navigate for free wherever you roam. This is notable from Samsung’s perspective, as it’s clear it’s making moves to push away from Google’s services.
As with Google Maps, when you search for a destination on HERE, you’re given options for public transport, walking or driving, with additional filters letting you omit toll roads, for example.
HERE maps cover around 200 countries, though turn-by-turn directions is available in about half of these.
Curiously, Nokia has also announced it’s integrating with Glympse, the app that lets you share your location with friends in real time. Now, when you tap your location on HERE for Android, you are able to send your location via Glympse to your buddies so they can see where you are in real-time.
There’s a map for that
There are generally considered to be four major, relatively complete online maps of the world – Google, TomTom, OpenStreetMap and HERE. Making its mapping technology available for Android is a big move from Nokia, and delivers a compelling alternative to those who have hitherto been tethered to Google Maps. Full offline access is a big carrot-on-a-stick.
Yes, it’s a shame it’s restricted to Galaxy devices, but it’s probably safe to assume that it will be rolled out more widely to other Android devices in the future, when HERE leaves its beta phase. Still no word on whether HERE will ever arrive again for iPhones, after it was pulled from the App Store last December after a year in existence.
The new HERE app for Samsung Galaxy devices will arrive in time for the Gear S watch hitting stores.
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