Today we release a new version of HERE for Android with some significant improvements, new features and bug fixes. After more than 3 million downloads, we’re losing the ‘beta’ label with this version, as the app is now mature and stable enough to stand as a full production release: look at our app, all grown up!
For those of you asking about the iOS version, stay turned to the blog, it's almost here, the app is now available to download.
HERE is the leading offline navigation app for Android and you can get it for free from Google Play now (or soon, if it’s still finding its way round the world). If you had the previous version installed, then Google Play will find the upgrade and look after installation for you.
So what’s new with HERE for Android? We talked to Niko van Eeghen, who heads the product team, to find out.
Improved routing. In the beta version, when you asked for a route, the app gave you three car routes. If you wanted public transit or pedestrian routes, you had to switch to the appropriate tab. This was a bit slow and inconvenient for people who don’t use a car all the time.
Now, the fastest routes from all three transport modes show up straight away. Then you can sweep right or left to see alternative routes, if the first one isn’t to your satisfaction.
Niko explains, “Most of the refinements you’ll find in the new version come from user feedback and testing. We had the time to see where people had issues and think of ways to correct them.”
Interactivity. “We have made the map canvas more interactive,” says Niko. The new version of HERE for Android offers far more information at the tap of a finger. For example, tapping on a restaurant when your phone is online will bring up contact info, photos of the food and reviews.
As well as regular Points of Interest, you can tap on traffic information. If you tap on a road closure, if the information is available to us, you can see the length of the closure, and which other streets are affected by it.
3D Venue Maps. Maps of locations like shopping malls and airports are now available in HERE for Android. These are now fully three-dimensional, too, so you can spin them round to match the direction from which you entered the venue and switch between floors to see what’s on different levels of the mall. We’ll have more on this latest iteration of Venue Maps in a forthcoming article.
Visual polish. “We’ve done a lot with the fit and finish to make everything consistent,” says Niko. “We’ve also worked to move the interface out of the way. For example, when you’ve chosen a route, we can move all of that away and show you just the map and your directions.” Collections have also been added to the menu, making it fast to access them wherever you are in the app.
Download painlessly. You can now download country maps in the background, with a progress shown in the notification drawer. “In the old version, we saw from the metrics that a lot of people abandoned downloads,” says Niko. “Now you can switch away, either back to your map, or into another app, and your download will progress to completion without you.”
Bug fixes. “Many, many bug fixes,” Niko concludes. Most of these were for issues only experienced by a very few users, but three deserve calling out. We’ve increased the volume of the spoken directions in Drive by 25 per cent – we heard many of you found it too quiet previously. And issues with the use of SD cards for storage and with voice downloads should now be solved, too.
We hope you enjoy this improved version of HERE for Android. And, of course, development doesn’t end here by any means. Keep leaving feedback, here and on Play, so that our team can better understand your priorities for future development.