Nokia — doubling down on mapping as a multiplatform business after selling its devices and services division to Microsoft earlier this year — says that it’s had over one million downloads of its Here navigation and mapping app on Android since launching it as a sideloaded, limited release. Now, the company is ramping up its ambitions with a global release anywhere that Google Play is available, and says that an iOS version will be coming in early 2015.
In addition Here has added 18 more countries to the list of those included in its navigation system, bringing the total to 118.
Alongside a redesign of here.com with a new search feature and better traffic information, Nokia says that its developers will have the iOS version of the app ready by “early 2015” after fielding requests for the app.
“Following the positive reviews of Here for Android, a lot of people have expressed their interest in an iOS version of our app,” the company notes. “We really appreciate this interest and demand. Our iOS app development team is working hard on this and we plan to officially launch HERE for iOS in early 2015.” Nokia doesn’t mention it, but the app was originally launched for iOS in 2012 but Nokia then pulled it in 2013 citing incompatibility with iOS 7.
Services in Here include voice-guided navigation, offline map use and public transit information, as well as location sharing with contacts by way of Glympse. Nokia notes that some of the newer group of countries that are being supported do not have all of their roads included in the maps yet.
The news comes by way of an update of the app — those who already have it do not need to reinstall — that also sees a few other tweaks, namely some stability and performance improvements and the removal of a voice-related navigation bug.
(As Nokia pointed out back in October, that bug had to do with Here’s navigation voices: they were getting deleted from the app when users launched certain “cache cleaning” apps.)
Interestingly, the expanded list of countries that are now covered by Here maps — Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Iraq, Libya, Mauritania, Mauritius, Nepal, Paraguay, Saint Helena, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Zambia and Zimbabwe — speaks to the mobile industry’s bigger ambitions to target emerging markets.
For a company like Nokia it’s also notable that it’s a way of potentially superceding the penetration that Google may already have in established markets with its native mapping app, targeting places that others may not have yet tackled. As a company spokesperson points out to me, “We currently have navigation in more countries than any other competitor today.”
Still, that being said, maps and navigation remain a long-term play for Nokia, with Here still a small and niche part of the bigger company. In the last quarter, the division posted net sales of €236 million, while the bigger Nokia business posted net sales of €3.3 billion, with an operating profit of zero.
Updated with more background on Here and iOS.