Samsung secures an exclusive Nokia HERE maps app for its own Android smartphones, showing Google that it’s getting more independent by the day.
Samsung and Google reached a cross-licensing agreement earlier this year that some applauded because they believed it would stop Samsung’s ambitious advances. And some even applauded the Galaxy S5 this year because it didn’t have the “bloatware software” that some find offensive.
Just when you thought Samsung had started to bow down to the mighty Google, the Korean manufacturer goes and shows you that it has its own, unique ways of rebelling against the search engine giant.
First, there was Samsung’s push to Tizen with its smartwatches, not to mention that the new improved user interface within the Galaxy S5 settings mimics Tizen remarkably. Samsung still released an Android Wear smartwatch called the Gear Live, but the company’s design made it clear that its best smartwatches, such as the brown gold metal Gear 2, were reserved for its own Gear line. In other words, don’t expect the Gear Live to ever best the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, and now the Gear S.
Now, Samsung’s gone and done it again. This time, however, Samsung’s secured its own maps application with Nokia. Nokia’s HERE maps are now available as an app download for Samsung’s own Galaxy smartphones. “Today we’re happy to introduce HERE (beta) for Android. Thanks to a licensing agreement with Samsung, it will be available for free, exclusively for Samsung Galaxy smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S5,” Nokia said earlier. Not only can you use your Galaxy S5 or other Galaxy smartphone with Nokia’s HERE maps, the maps app will come with Gear S integration so that you can navigate maps on the new standalone phone/text smartwatch. The Gear S will be available in October.
Samsung, like all other Android OEMs, has always depended upon Google and its Google Maps application that is a remarkable feat from the Mountain View, California company. Google’s made it clear that Samsung’s Android devices are to promote Google, not Samsung so much – which has been a source of tension between both Samsung and Google. At the same time, however, Google’s ever-growing domination over its own operating system has got companies like Samsung trying to protect their own right in the smartphone and smartwatch space. Google may not like it, but Samsung has brought a large number of users to Android that would’ve never cared about Google and Android if it hadn’t been for Samsung.
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And Samsung’s growing its momentum to transition to Tizen. With its Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, and now its Gear S smartwatches, the Korean giant is sending a statement: it has its own plans, and not even Google can stop ‘em. Now, Nokia’s HERE maps will only sweeten the deal. While the maps themselves are similar to Google’s Maps app, there’s one major difference: Nokia’s HERE maps are fully usable without an Internet connection, unlike Google Maps that requires constant Internet connection. In other words, Galaxy users can now download maps for specific journeys and use them, even when their LTE or 3G signal dies (or coverage turns spotty all of a sudden).
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The move is an excellent one for Samsung, seeing that, according to some, Google is starting to limit Samsung’s own creativity within Android. It wasn’t too long ago when Samsung’s creativity was allowed to flourish. With Nokia’s HERE maps behind the company and its Galaxy lineup, Samsung’s starting to flex its muscles a bit. Nokia’s HERE maps won’t be the last tool Samsung maneuvers to make its presence known within Android, but, as a first tool, Google should pay attention.