Nokia announced last Friday that the Finnish mobile manufacturing company has teamed up with Samsung in order to bring its Here app to Android-run Galaxy smartphones and to Samsung's Tizen-based smartwatches.
For those not in the know, Here is a mapping app that Nokia developed and kept, even when software giant Microsoft purchased the Finland-based phone maker's mobile device segment. The Here app was only available for devices that run on Windows 8 or Windows Phone.
That is about to change, given the most recent circumstances. The app will be debuting on the Samsung Gear S smartwatch, which was recently just introduced. When used on the Samsung wearable device, Here will provide information to another app called Navigator (created by Samsung), basically giving directions and navigation data from the wrists of users.
Google Maps may be the most popular mapping platform in the planet right now, but there are some things that Here can do that Google maps can not. Case in point, Here lets users download maps of entire regions and countries for later offline use. Google Maps, on the other hand, can only go so far as cache in advance the maps that you have previously saved. Here also appears to be more compatible with Samsung's Car Mode and Glympse, another app that lets users share their locations.
Previously available in iOS, Here Maps was removed in late 2013 because Nokia claimed that iOS 7 hampered some of the user experience. At that time, Nokia revealed its plans to develop a version of the app that runs on Android. But with this new licensing deal with Samsung, it is not exactly clear whether other phones (i.e. not made by Samsung) will not also be getting the app. In other words, if you have an Android phone that is not a Samsung device, there is still a chance that you will still be able to use the app in your handset eventually.
Most Samsung Galaxy users today probably use Google Maps by default (Google's platform is after all the most well-known). But if the Here app becomes the default mapping platform in all Galaxy devices, a good chunk of users will probably make the switch. The same thing happened when Apple switched to Apple Maps -- a lot of users went on to use the default platform even though Google Maps remains the popular choice.
As for Samsung, the licensing deal gives it more opportunity to differentiate itself from the rest of the Android-run phone brands. Having the Here app helps give an impression that the phone maker is offering services that are unique to its mobile products alone. Android, after all, is a field that is packed with lots of competitors, and having something unique to offer could be the difference between profit and loss.
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