Google and Samsung regularly work together on various smartphones and smartwatches, but Samsung has been pushing its own self-branded software for years.
The company has heavily modified Android to emphasise its own apps and features developed by Samsung that aren’t available on most other Android phones.
In fact, many have speculated that the company is building Tizen — another open-source operating system sort of like Android — into its own homegrown software to decrease its reliance on Google.
Now, we may be seeing another indication that Samsung is looking to move away from Android. On Friday, Nokia announced its Here maps app will be available for Android exclusively on Samsung Galaxy products.
Nokia is emphasising the free application’s ability to work offline as one of its standout features. Google Maps also recently added that feature in May.
Like Google Maps, you can also choose from walking, public transportation, and driving directions in Here Maps. In fact, this aspect of Here Maps actually looks quite similar to Google’s app, since it displays these options in boxes that resemble Google’s card-based interface.
Although the Here Maps app is coming to Samsung’s Android devices, it will be able to connect with the company’s recently announced Gear S Tizen-powered smartwatch too. The new watch, which doesn’t need to be paired with a smartphone to connect to the internet, has its own version of Here that can sync with the app on your phone. This means any maps you’ve saved for offline use can be transferred to the watch.
Here Maps will work with Samsung’s Car Mode feature as well.
Of course, since Samsung’s smartphones run on Android you’ll still be able to use Google Maps whenever you please. But the fact that an alternative navigation app made by a competitor is coming exclusively to Samsung’s devices suggests that the company is looking to beef up its own software platform.
The Here Maps launch also coincides with the debut of Samsung’s Gear S watch, which will hit stores globally in October.
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