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Here Maps comes to Galaxy Android phones, thanks to exclusive Samsung deal (Updated)

Here Maps has come to Android as a beta app, thanks to a new agreement between the Nokia-owned navigation firm and Samsung. Unfortunately, this does mean the app will be restricted for use on certain Samsung devices, rather than models from any manufacturer. We say devices, because not only will Here Maps work on selected Galaxy smartphones, but it’s an integral part of the new Gear S smartwatch too.

Updated on 10-08-2014 by Andy Boxall: Here Maps is now available through the Samsung Galaxy Apps Store.

It has taken more than a month for Samsung and Nokia to finally bring the Here Maps app to the Samsung Galaxy Apps Store. Nokia has also published some finer details on which devices are compatible with the app. To enjoy Here Maps, you’ll need to own a Samsung Galaxy phone with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean or later installed, 1GB of RAM, and access to the Galaxy Apps Store too. However, it’s pointed out that Samsung will “have the final say on which devices are, or aren’t, offered access.” So don’t take these guidelines as a guarantee your phone will cooperate.

The big draw with Here Maps is the ability to download entire maps for use without an internet connection, but still using the GPS functionality of your phone. It’s a very helpful feature, particularly when using the app while traveling internationally. Maps stored on your device are fast too, and the downloaded files come with a search facility, just like using them online.

Using Here Maps with a data connection adds other features, such as live traffic updates, the chance to share your location over social networks, and adding favorites to your online account. In total, Here covers 200 countries around the world, and offers turn-by-turn navigation in nearly half of them, plus public transport options in 40 countries.

Here Maps Samsung Gear S

The Android Here Maps app will be exclusive to Samsung Galaxy smartphones, including the Galaxy S5, and once it’s released, it’ll sync up with the Gear S smartwatch. Your precise location will appear on the watch’s screen, along with directions to your destination. Because the Gear S will have its own data connection, you can plan your route on your phone, then send the map to the watch, where it’ll work independently.

Here Maps’ launch on Samsung Android phones, and its Tizen smartwatch, is another step in Samsung’s efforts to cut down its dependance on Google and Android. Google Maps will no longer be the only navigation app pre-installed on Samsung’s Galaxy Android phones, and we’d imagine Here Maps will get a prime position on the home screen. Here Maps is also available for Windows Phone, and comes installed on Firefox OS devices, but an iOS app was removed from the iTunes App Store at the end of last year.

Article originally published on 08-29-2014

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