As it turns out, the road to cross-platform mapping compatibility didn't turn out to be as smooth as Nokia hoped.
Earlier this month, Nokia pulled Here Maps, its mobile map offering, from Apple's iOS App Store. The culprit? According to a December 25 report in the Indian Express subsequently picked up by other tech sites including The Wall Street Journal and Engadget, Nokia is blaming iOS 7. Specifically, "recent changes to iOS 7 harm the user experience," Nokia claimed in a statement supplied to several news sites.
iOS users who downloaded Here when it arrived on the App Store more than a year ago may beg to differ. Here Maps received little attention since its debut and even fewer updates. Nokia's app found itself on the business end of tepid reviews from iOS users in the App Store. With Apple telling app makers to make their app submissions compatible with iOS 7 by February 1, 2014, it's likely that Nokia decided to pull the plug on an app it never seemed to show much interest in improving in the first place.
That's a far cry from the fanfare that Nokia's November 2012 announcement that it was expanding its mapping services beyond its own line of smartphones, starting with an iOS version and then a software development kit for Android app makers. "We want to give everyone with any type of device to ability to use this, the best location platform in the industry," said Stephen Elop, then CEO of Nokia at a San Francisco press event to announce the cross-platform push. (Elop has since gone back to Microsoft as part of that company's $7.17 billion purchase of Nokia's devices business.) Now, Nokia's Here site merely directs non-Windows Phone users to access Here Maps via a mobile browser.
You'll forgive iOS users if the news that a little-supported mapping option has disappeared from the App Store hasn't trigged a wave of "Whither iOS?" soul searching. Even if you don't believe that Apple's own Maps app has improved since its disastrous 2012 rollout, there's still the iOS version of Google's mapping program, not to mention apps from GPS specialists like Navigon, TomTom and ALK Technologies. The departure of Here Maps from the iOS App Store probably says more about Nokia's efforts to develop apps for platforms beyond Windows Phone than it does about iOS 7.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.