Nokia announced on Friday that it reached a licensing deal with Samsung to bring its Here mapping application to Galaxy smartphones running Android as well as Samsung’s Tizen-based smart watches. Here is a robust mapping application that Nokia kept when Microsoft bought the devices business, and was previously available only for Windows 8 and Windows Phone.
Here maps will make its debut on the just-announced Samsung Gear S by providing data to a Samsung-developed app called Navigator that gives wrist-based turn-by-turn navigation and directions. Navigator pairs with Here for Android, a full mapping app that will be available on the Samsung Galaxy Apps Store as a beta version when the Gear S officially launches.
Although Google Maps is the dominant mapping platform on Android, there are a few things that Here does better. For instance, it allows users to download entire regions and countries for offline use, whereas Google Maps can only cache areas you’ve previously saved in advance. Here also promises better integration with Samsung’s Car Mode and Glympse, a location-sharing service.
Here Maps used to be available for iOS, but it was pulled late last year because Nokia claimed iOS 7 “harmed the user experience.” Nokia said at the time that it planned to bring a version to Android, but it’s not clear whether this new licensing deal means non-Samsung phones won’t eventually get the app.
I suspect most [company]Samsung[/company] Galaxy users will continue to stick with Google Maps. After all, how many of them even know there’s a Samsung Apps Store or browse it regularly? But it would likely be a different story if Here were to become the default Galaxy mapping app. When [company]Apple[/company] switched to Apple Maps it appeared that a lot of iPhone users went with the default instead of seeking out Google’s superior (at the time) option.
[company]Nokia[/company] Here comprises one of a very small group of worthy cartography competitors to Google, and more options and competition is certainly a good thing. But is better maps the kind of feature to boost consumer interest in Samsung phones and smart watches? I doubt it.