Nokia’s HERE Maps app, which had previously just been available for Samsung Galaxy Android phones is now available to all Android users. However it’s not in Google Play; users have to download it directly from the HERE site.
In order to install the HERE app, you’ll need to go into settings –>security and enable installation of apps from “unknown sources” otherwise installation will be blocked. Eventually it should be available through Google Play.
Nokia HERE is the mapping provider for Windows Phones. Microsoft had reportedly tried to buy HERE along with the Nokia hardware division but Nokia wouldn’t sell it. Nokia/HERE is also behind Yahoo Maps and is the official mapping provider to Amazon’s Fire Phone.
Like others, HERE provides turn-by-turn voice guided navigation and traffic — and public transit. It also offers reviews from TripAdvisor on business profile pages in selected categories. And users can register and create personalized lists (“collections”) of places for future reference.
In my quick exploration of HERE on my Nexus tablet I found it to be a competent local search and directions app. There are potentially two reasons to use it vs. Google Maps on Android phones: the ability to use local search, maps and navigation offline (this is a big deal for international travel) and the integration of Glympse, which enables users to share location and ETA information.
In general HERE will be something of a hard sell to Android users who are used to Google Maps, which is so deeply integrated with the experience on Android devices. Nokia will need to add more utility and stand-out features (e.g., offline maps) that clearly differentiate it from Google’s product.
HERE Maps is also supposed to eventually make it to iOS, where there’s probably a greater chance of adoption.