Getting started with HERE for Android: the basics

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08th Oct 2014

HERE for Android is now available* in beta from the Samsung Galaxy Apps Store installed on compatible** smartphones from the manufacturer, including the Galaxy S5.


You can just dive in and find your own way if you want. But if you want to extend the pleasure, and make sure you’re getting the most out of the app, then follow our guide to getting started.

1.      Splash and log-in


Here we are at the opening screens you’ll get when you first start the HERE app. You can sign up for an account, sign-in to an existing HERE account, or just dive in without registering.

There is a very good reason to register and login, though: you can create Collections, categorised sets of map bookmarks. HERE stores these in the cloud, against your account details, so that you can access them from any device. Currently, we support Samsung Galaxy smartphones and Nokia X smartphones. We will soon also bring in access to your HERE account on and other platforms. HERE accounts supercede the old Nokia and Ovi accounts, but you can migrate your collections from your old Nokia accounts to a new HERE account.

In short, go ahead and sign up/sign-in – it’s well worth the tiny amount of effort required. And no, we won’t sell your details to advertisers or anyone else. Nor do we keep a permanent record of where you’ve been.

2.      Finding yourself


So here we are in Map view, the normal view when you get started. It’s centred on you, and once the GPS satellites have found you, the marker should be a green dot with an arrow. This takes a little while to initialise when you first start. And so you may see a wider green circle around you to begin with  – especially if you’re indoors.

If you continue to see a big green circle around you, it may be the case that you haven’t got GPS switched on, or your phone can’t ‘see’ the satellites, and the app is using your mobile network towers and WiFi to try to find your position. Go ahead and switch GPS on in your phone’s settings, if this is the case.

3.      Getting around


So now you know where you are, let’s try going somewhere else.

  • Use one finger to pan the map around (hint: download your maps to make this – and everything else – super-fast – see below).
  • Use pinch gestures to zoom in and out of the map.
  • A two-finger twist gesture will rotate the map (take note of the compass at the top right to keep your bearings).
  • Two-finger swipes up and down will tilt the map between 90 and 45-degree viewpoints.
  • The ‘layer’ icon at the bottom right will let you switch between vector and satellite map views, and bring up the traffic and transit overlays.
  • The green circle icon in the lower left will take you back to your current position – so you can’t ‘get lost’ scrolling around elsewhere.

4.      Download and settings


Now it’s time to back-up a little, though. We’re in danger of missing out on one of the major advantages of HERE for Android: offline navigation.

If you download the maps you use most often to your phone, then there are two massive benefits:

  • The whole app moves faster. Panning from where you are now to somewhere miles away happens in a moment, not minutes.
  • You don’t need to be online (d’oh!). You can move round the map, find places, plan routes and navigate, all without any mobile data use. There are some advantages to being online, though – you’ll get current information about traffic congestion, for example, and can view satellite maps – but the number one priority is getting you wherever you need to be and that’s all possible while you’re entirely offline.

So go to the main menu at the top left and choose ‘Download Maps’. Then navigate to your country and, maybe, others you visit or plan to visit soon. Individual country maps are fairly small because they’re vector-based, though the downloadable map packs also contains a wealth of extra information like street and venue names.

There are more things to download in the Settings menu, notably the voice files you can use for guided navigation. But more on those in our next article about HERE for Android. For now, one last tip that falls into the ‘basics’ category.

5.      Search and you will find


Now you’re all set-up and ready for action. In real-life use, the first thing you’re going to want to do is find the place you’re going to.

Happily, there’s a big search box at the top of the screen when you’re in the regular Map view. Type in the address or the name of a place right there.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for suggestions for places around you, you can tap into the category lists underneath – you’ll find all the usual suspects, like ‘eat & drink’, ‘accommodation’, ‘shopping’, etc.

Here I am searching for Westminster Abbey – there’s a predictive search – that even works offline – so I don’t need to type in the whole thing. A tap on the preferred search result and I’m taken to the place on the map.

The second way to use search is to tap the ‘Signpost’ icon to the right of the text-entry box. As you probably guessed, this takes you straight to getting directions.

Typing in your destination here will give you directions, with options for driving, public transit or walking to the place you’ve asked for, with different routes (Our prediction of the fastest is shown first, but you may have your own insider knowledge to favour a different approach).

6.      Next instalment

We’ll be following-up shortly with a walkthrough of driving directions, including voice guidance options. And then with more details of all the other things you can do with the app.

*Availability: If you don’t see it yet, then probably the app is propagating its way around the world and you should try again in a few hours or in a couple of days. It’s visible on Samsung’s web store here.

**Compatibility: The app is designed to run on Samsung Galaxy smartphones running Android 4.1 (‘Jelly Bean’) and higher, with 1GB of RAM or more, screen size between 4.5″ and 6.9″, and access to the Samsung Galaxy Apps Store. Though Samsung itself, of course, will have the final say which devices are, or aren’t, offered access.

Anyway – those of you who’ve downloaded the app already: tell us your first impressions.