When Nokia released its first HERE app for iPhone last year, I simmered that it was better than the built-in Maps app in Windows Phone in many ways. Since then, however, Nokia has expanded the HERE brand out to all of its location-based products and services and has significantly ramped up its release of HERE apps on Windows Phone, both on Lumia and on competing devices. Today, these HERE apps and services are a key differentiator for Windows Phone in general, and for Nokia’s Lumia handsets in particular.
Nokia’s Pino Bonetti explains the situation pretty plainly.
“Although HERE is available on different devices and OS, it works best on Nokia Lumia,” he writes in a new post to the Conversations by Nokia blog. “Windows Phone 8 allows Nokia, Microsoft and third parties to develop location experiences based on the HERE platform.”
I made the case for Nokia’s HERE apps—and many other unique Windows Phone apps—in The Nokia Advantage: Apps. But if you’re not familiar with what’s happening, here’s the short version: HERE Drive, HERE Maps, and HERE Transit are available for all Windows Phone 8 handsets. But HERE Drive+ and HERE City Lens are only available on Nokia Lumia devices.
Wondering about Drive vs. Drive+? HERE Drive is licensed for the country/locale in which your handset’s SIM was purchased. So if you live in the United States, you get US maps only. With Drive+, you get maps from all over the world. (In the future, Nokia will sell Drive+ to users of non-Lumia devices too. The product is currently in development.)
The HERE apps are great standalone solutions. But the bigger deal, perhaps, is that they integrate together as well. There are the obvious bits like triggering HERE Drive+-based turn-by-turn navigation from within HERE Maps, of course. But when you do things like save a favorite location in one app, or on the HERE web site, it’s saved to the cloud and then made available in the others. As Bonetti says, “you can add places as favorites on the go on your smartphone or at home on here.com and they’re all automatically synchronized.”
In my case, I’ve saved places like a favorite restaurant, which I can now reach from HERE Maps, HERE Drive+, HERE Transit or whatever. And you can pin these separately to your Start screen if desired for one-tap access.
For more information about this, be sure to check out How HERE experiences work together well. But the basic point is simple: Where integrated experiences are the key advantage and differentiator for Windows Phone overall, Nokia’s integrated experiences, especially via HERE, are a key advantage and differentiator for Lumia.