Mapping software has long been an integral part of the smartphone experience, and for many years there was just one company offering top-notch maps: Google. But now times have changed. First Apple abandoned Google Maps in 2007, replacing them with the much-criticized Apple Maps on its iOS platform. Then Microsoft (due to disputes with Google) chose to do the same, developing its own proprietary Bing Maps.
Now Samsung too has announced an intention to begin doing away with Google Maps. The news Samsung Gear S smartwatch will reportedly feature Nokia’s in-house HERE Maps rather than offerings by Google as part of a partnership with the Finnish company. It is important to note that this device will not be running Google’s own Android Wear operating system, which comes inbuilt with Google Maps, but rather Samsung’s proprietary Tizen operating system.
HERE Maps is similar in terms of features to Google Maps, and in general covers the exact same regions. The primary difference between the two is that Nokia has spent time developing comprehensive offline mapping solutions for HERE, allowing a user to select a country or region and download all maps data to their device before leaving for their travels. In addition, HERE Maps also features a wide range of 3D models of important landmarks, which appear semi-transparent when a user is zoomed in.
This move to HERE Maps for the Gear S represents part of a wider strategy to move away from Google services for Samsung. Not only are they planning to deploy the HERE mapping services across almost all Samsung products - including smartphones and tablets - they are also heavily promoting their own versions of Google’s popular mail, and cloud services.
While it is unclear how customers will respond to this move, unlike Apple’s rushed deployment of Apple Maps, HERE has been tested and optimized by users on Nokia Windows Phone devices now for years. Here it has been one of the standout applications of an otherwise widely criticized operating system. Given the large number of satisfied customers, and Nokia’s reformation as a software company, it is possible that this partnership could turn out to be highly successful for Samsung into the future.
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