Samsung HERE for Android deal sidelines Google

Aug 29, 2014
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Samsung HERE for Android deal sidelines Google

Samsung has cut a deal with HERE, the Nokia navigation provider, to release HERE for Android, an alternative to Google Maps. We'd noted the HERE-powered turn-by-turn navigation on the Samsung Gear S yesterday, but at the time the significance of the software and services agreement wasn't quite clear: this is Samsung doing its level best to oust Google, and affects all Samsung phones not just a niche smartwatch.

On the Gear S, HERE for Android will supply maps and directions - both online and offline - for the smartwatch. As you'd expect, there's a special wearable-friendly UI, though even with the relatively small 2-inch display you can still browse the map and set a destination from the watch itself.

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After that point, there's walking and public transportation navigation offered, and you can cache the maps on the smartwatch itself for those times when you don't have a data connection.

However, HERE for Android is about more than that. Samsung is paying the Nokia company for its app and services - despite Google Maps being a free part of Android - because it gives the South Korean firm extra freedom from Google. Google Maps may be free, but that's only if you toe the Android line, after all.

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As we've seen from HERE on Windows Phones, there'll be full download support for map databases on a country/region basis, all free to the end-user. Driving, walking, and public transit navigation is supported, along with basic offline search for POIs or more detailed information if you have a data connection.

Going online also brings in live traffic - using the data curated by the HERE team we visited earlier this year - and real-time transit information. Saved locations can be shared as "Collections" and synchronized on other devices and with other people.

Of course, Google Maps is still an option if you're a Galaxy phone user, but HERE is the default on Tizen and, if you want to pair a Samsung Tizen smartwatch with your Android phone, you'll need to be using it on the handset too.

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That helps with features like synchronizing routes, so that you can pre-program your destination and choose the exact path you'll take on your phone, and then pass that information on to the watch.

There's also integration with location-sharing service Glympse, and a Samsung Car Mode which will use voice-controlled directions with HERE for Android.

HERE for Android will arrive for Galaxy smartphones when the Samsung Gear S goes on sale, which is expected to happen in October. It'll be a free download.

SOURCE HERE


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