SAMSUNG HAS SURPRISED the market by signing a licensing deal that will see it favour Nokia's Here mapping apps over Google Maps.
Here, a division of Nokia that was not subject to the takeover by Microsoft, will have its maps included on Tizen devices as well as Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones, including its flagship Galaxy S5, joining Windows Phone and iOS versions. The app will come to Galaxy devices when the Gear S ships in October.
The news is something of a slap in the face to Google, whose Android mobile operating system is still at the heart of the Galaxy ecosystem and offers free navigation and mapping tools as part of its Google Apps suite.
Meanwhile, for Nokia this is the most high-profile transaction since the restructuring of the Finnish company was finalised earlier this year after Microsoft acquired its devices division.
On the Here blog, Android users are told to "rejoice", explaining that the apps, which include a Car Mode exclusive to Galaxy devices, are making its Android debut as part of a licensing deal.
Unlike Google Maps, Here apps have extensive offline support that's suitable for trips on the London Underground and to remote mountains in North Wales. The apps are not available in the Google Play store, working as they do on an OEM licensing model that also includes offering them to its ex-subsidiary Microsoft Devices.
The decision to license Here from Nokia once again flies in the face of an accord made by Samsung and Google earlier this year that it was hoped would lead to a return by Samsung to a more traditional Android user interface. The Galaxy range has hitherto been heavily "skinned" with the company's Touchwiz user interface, and in July the company relaunched its own app store to rival Google Play.
Google and Samsung have been at loggerheads over Internet of Things devices since Samsung released a range of devices using its own Tizen mobile operating system, rather than adopting the Android Wear standard. µ