Nokia has a strong pedigree when it comes to its map services, not a surprise considering its 2007 acquisition of Navteq for $8.1bn in 2007. We’ve long admired Nokia’s Drive app on Windows Phone, subsequently rebranded to Here. The navigation app allows users to download maps for a particular region for use offline. This makes it ideal when visiting a foreign country without racking up a huge data bill.
This is still an Achilles heel for Google Maps, yes you can cache parts of a map, but it’s not intuitive. Well the good news is that Nokia recently announced it plans to bring Here maps to Android. The bad news is that it will be exclusive to Samsung devices on launch. Fear not though as the APK has leaked from the Here Beta that is taking place and it works great on Sony Xperia devices.
The app is surprisingly stable for a beta build. You can download a range of different voices and there are also high-fidelity voice packs for select languages (English, German, Spanish, French and Italian). You are able to download maps for various regions around the world either to internal storage or external storage (if you are using a microSD memory card). The process is simple enough although download speeds are a little slow right now.
The app has a toggle in the slide-out navigation menu where it can be used offline. The functionality works as you would expect to, we downloaded a map of England and put in some obscure street names whilst stuck on the London Underground and had no issues in pulling up maps of the local area with ease.
We have no doubt that Here for Android will be a fantastic navigation/maps addition to Android when it formally launches. If you want to see what the fuss is about, you can download the APK from the link below. We found no issues with this working on an Xperia Z2.
DOWNLOAD: HERE for Android (1.0.172 Beta)