Nokia HERE Maps returns to iOS

12 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

After A 15-Month Hiatus, Nokia’s Here Mapping App Finds Its Way Back To iOS.

Nokia — now independent of the handset division that it sold to Windows Phone maker Microsoft last year — is today passing a milestone in getting remaining services to work across multiple platforms. Competing against the likes of Google Maps, Apple’s own native Maps, and literally hundreds of other navigation apps, Nokia hopes to bring new users into the fold with its free app that includes a bunch of features, from navigation directions for cars, walkers and public transport users; suggestions of places to visit; and offline maps for 100+ countries. The last of these features is particularly interesting: in current apps on Android and Windows Phone, more than half of current users use this feature regularly the company tells me, with the proportion growing all the time.

Key to the offline feature is that the maps are fairly extensive and not simply small caches. (Although this also eats up space on your phone if you choose to have them.) At least at first, Here will be without a few bells and whistles: while the core features for offline usage for example will be the same, extras like venue maps are missing for now. For a person living in London, the in-car navigation is a leg up on Google’s with more detailed traffic information than what Google Maps offers on iOS in this market. But the app originally launched as a native app for Windows Phone, at a time when Nokia was still a handset maker building devices on Microsoft’s OS. That, in fact, has proven to be the case, with a myriad of apps using location to power their very services — whether they are based around transportation (like Uber) or social interaction (like Foursquare) or commerce (Amazon Local being just one example).

It’s debatable whether Nokia has so far been the winner in the landgrab for location services users (pun intended), but apps and users are both moving targets, and so there is still plenty of space left for growth and movement. The company already works with car makers to modify Here to work in vehicles, and it also has deals with Oracle, Amazon, SAP and FedEx to power customized maps for these businesses.

And as companies like Uber, for example, get more focused on how they could build out their own location services to better support their ever-expanding empire, it’s worth considering how Nokia’s mapping business may evolve. We are building on that strong relationship with the major car companies by offering location services for drivers across multiple screens (see e.g. our work with BMW).

For instance, a driver can plan her route on a tablet the night before a trip, sync to the car so everything’s ready when she sets off, and even get last mile guidance once she’s parked her car and is continuing on foot. We continuously tested the app over the last few months and we now have very positive user feedback from these tests, so we felt that now is the right time to release. In general, we aim to surface the best sources for the use case and the region, so results may differ depending on where you are, and where you are searching. There are a lot of scenarios where users find this useful – on the tube, in places where you don’t have reception, when travelling, or if you have data caps with your operator.

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