When it comes to maps applications on Android most people are probably only aware of the most recognizable option, which is of course Google’s own Maps app also appropriately named the same. If you had spent any amount of time with a Nokia smartphone however you might know a thing or two about Nokia’s HERE maps application that allows for some pretty powerful features and functions that make it a force to be reckoned with when it comes to maps, directions, and navigation.
Not too long ago Nokia confirmed that they would be making an Android version of the HERE maps app which probably delighted many users, only to be let down by the fact that Nokia stated it would be exclusive to Samsung devices initially. They hadn’t made any comments thus far as too how long that device exclusivity would last, nor what other OEM’s they were planning to make the application compatible with, if any, before a full rollout of the app. A version of the app in apk format had hit the web recently when it was uploaded to mediafire and after being discovered by a site called El Android Libre, and it appears that the apk floating around in the wild is a little less limiting and choosy as to what devices it works on. That is to say that if you’re running Android ICS(4.0) and up the apk should work just fine.
Now some of you might ask why you would want Nokia HERE maps on your phone when you have a perfectly good Google Maps already available at your fingertips? The answer is simple, although it won’t apply to everyone because it won’t be a function that everyone will care about. HERE maps has an ability that Google Maps completely lacks though, which is the option to download and cache segments of maps of an entire, city, state, or the whole of the U.S. if you honestly want the map always ready and on the fly no matter where you are. That task though will require to keep 4.7GB of files stored on your phone. Most likely this would be more useful should you need to have access to directions in say, another state while on vacation, and don’t want to mess with the possibility that you might lose service at some point during the trip. With HERE maps, you could simply download and cache the map for the entire state and you’d be good to go. It’s worth mentioning again that this is the beta version of the app, and while it does appear that everyone seems to work just fine that doesn’t mean that when Nokia releases the final revision, that it won’t have some extras. It’s also possible that the official release might be more stable, although I have noticed any issues with it in the few minutes I’ve played with it on my Nexus 4.