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Microsoft will continue to use HERE Maps data but many questions remain

This morning HERE dropped some rather big news on the Windows Phone community by announcing that their Windows Phone 7 era apps will no longer work on Windows 10 Mobile devices past June 30, 2016. As a result, they are removing the apps from the Store to prevent confusion after that date.

There is some confusion, however, about what this all means for Windows 10 Mobile users. Here is a quick hit list of things to keep in mind as well as some questions we have about these coming changes.

HERE Maps will not work on Windows 10 Mobile after June 30

In the HERE blog post the company specifically notes that the apps themselves will "no longer work on devices running Windows 10 mobile after June 30, 2016."

That is much more than just we won't be offering the apps anymore as it sounds like the HERE apps will break after this date (give or take). In fact, some users are already reporting the apps not working (or working intermittently) on the Fast Ring Insider builds for Windows 10 Mobile (Redstone releases e.g. build 14283 or higher).

But why June 30?

Good question. In fact, this is the primary issue that none of us currently know the answer to. Is there an API licensing issue that is timed to expire on that date? Did Microsoft and HERE have a contract of support for the apps that is coming to end on June 30? Is there something in Windows 10 Redstone that irrevocably breaks the old app?

Currently, we do not know the reason, but it could be some, none, or all of those listed above.

What about Windows 10 Maps and HERE data?

The real crux of all of this is that Microsoft and HERE are not going their separate ways. Far from it. The HERE Twitter account responded to an inquiry directly about that noting that Microsoft is still a big customer:

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This means that Microsoft's native Maps app for Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile will still use HERE data just as it does today and this evidently not changing.

What is the goal HERE?

Many fans of HERE Maps – and perhaps more importantly HERE Transit – are wondering why this is happening. Besides the reasons above, it does seem like Microsoft made a decision some time ago to discontinue having two apps for navigation.

In other words, if Microsoft is building their own Maps app that uses – and still uses – HERE data, why have a separate app that basically does the same thing but is old and doesn't leverage Windows 10 and its new APIs? Just put it all into one, kick ass app and call it a day.

Of course, you are likely to quip that Maps for Windows 10 and Mobile is a far cry from what HERE Drive, Maps, and Transit can do for you today. For some users, that is most certainly true. In the U.S., I would argue it is not. Regardless, there will be a hole left for many users who prefer HERE over the Windows 10 Maps app, and that is a legitimate problem.

WinBeta's Zac Bowden dropped a hint that some big changes are coming to Windows 10 Maps real soon. Although we do not know the details of these features, the timing suggests a Build/Redstone/summer release. We are likely to learn more in just about two weeks at Build.

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Microsoft's real plan may be to deprecate the HERE apps right as they ramp up their own Windows 10 Maps offering with the Windows 10 Redstone release. That is speculation at this time, but not far-fetched either. Clearly, Windows 10 Maps is not a finished product as literally nothing about Windows 10 and Mobile is ever "finished".

The big risk here for Microsoft is whether these alleged changes will be enough to offset HERE especially in Europe where the nav company actually has some clout. That part remains to be seen.

One thing seems clear at this time, however. None of this is a surprise to Microsoft or HERE. These changes appear to be all planned long ago. This change does not look like a sudden "business decision" to abandon the platform but rather a deliberate strategy.

Hopefully, by June 30 it will all make much more sense.

As far as HERE the company seems to be angling for more map licensing and in-car ventures rather than consumer app products. While HERE remains - for now - on iOS and Android those platforms benefit from the juggernaut that is Google Maps. It is not obvious that HERE will continue to develop such apps in the face of a such a challenge nor is it clear if consumers even care about the product.

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

  • I recall the one with Spotify first leaving Windows, then not. Then there was Windows ditching Bitcoin, which was also denied later.  
  • Luck doesn't always works dude. This is one of them.
  • Yep, these are the pitfalls of today's hard and fast journalism...
  • Maybe the date is deliberately placed so that the improvements to the windows 10 maps app are released before the retiring of the HERE apps
  • It's clearly a collaboration of some sort, since MS still uses here data. I was actually wondering about this myself the other day, because MS Maps and Here feel so similar (though I still feel more "secure" using Here Drive), so I was wondering why they dont just merge them. With this news coming out so suddenly and the fact that they deliberately point to Windows 10/mobile in such a short time notice makes me even more certain that MS has ironed out a deal that benefits Here, as well as themselves because truth be told, while we on Windows love it and rely on Here, 90% of iOS and Android users dont even know about Here Apps and when they do, they still prefer using the already safe and tried Google Maps/Drive. So it's not exactly popular on competing platforms and since google has no presence on Windows, it makes great sense for Here to work with MS in creating a better native map that continues to use their data. They're reply about MS being their biggest client, is also what I believe is a sign of a nicely ironed out deal, that's going to replace Here apps on Windows on the 30th of June. Dont forget, MS is a service, they have been creating all sorts of apps and successfully launching them on competing platforms, I wouldnt be surprised if this deal turns Here Maps apps into Microsoft Maps that eventually launches on all platforms, while Here focuses on mapping for the car industry. Whatever it is, Im certain it's better for us, especially after that tweet from Here.
  • ^This   I agree that MS Maps using HERE data on all platforms. Its teh way MS are trying to go and makes sense.  Good call abduz i hope you're right
  • So why not wait to announce it until AFTER the update which is supposed to make mends for the loss of HERE is released? Why go through a cycle of negative press about it? Btw. it's not like Windows is in a situation where there is too much choice between apps and too much competition among them. Certainly keeping the apps and giving consumers the choice between them would have been more desirable? Unless of course this is part of a larger reorganization on the part of HERE in order to either position it better to compete with Google and Apple Maps, which are both all-in-one apps, in which case we might be so lucky and see a revamped effort and new consolidated app some day down the road... One can only hope - or perhaps they will be refocusing their efforts on in-car experiences  instead and leave the mobile app market completely. Yes, the data is shared between them, but that is saying nothing. Lots of other mapping apps are buying data from one of the big mapping companies and they all try to find unique ways to add value to the navigation experience, public transit, etc. Microsoft can try and spin it any way the want, but to me this is a loss for the platform as it stands. Btw. I am actually quite fond of the new Microsoft Maps and have been using it almost exclusively since installing Windows 10 Mobile. I never really use HERE anymore, but choice and competition is good and stories of apps leaving is not.
  • ^ This too   Classic MS media screw up - it's like an addiction. There's a chance to say hey we are improving things by merging two things and removing clutter for a more native experience (their posts today aseem to back this up) So the MS way to handle this is - sorry W10M is dead as yet anopther big app gets pulled  - shouted everywhere. Followed shortly after with a whimpering oh yes it will be a good move because are adding loads of good stuff    When will they ever learn?
  • I am not that upset about those apps leaving (eventhough I almost never use the Windows 10 Maps app), but they need to fix the maps app disperately: - I am an Arab, and while searching with the same quiry over Here Drive or Here Maps the app locates it, but not when doing the same in the default Maps app with the same quiry, eventhough things are still written on that default app's map in Arabic (it supports Arabic, but not in search apparently, OR the search algorithm is wrecked). - The maps app is buggy, it crashes, and sometimes it draws a wrong route (especially if you want to navigate to a near place). - The view, and how the map moves with you while driving is not convenient. It reminds me of old games and the fixed field of view. - No 2-d map that follows you while driving. If they fix those issues, I am all in for the default one.
  • I think you're right... If MS's plans are to fix the issues, and add functionality, to there maps users will not care if HERE goes away.. Right now we just don't trust MSMaps.. But, they have potential, as with everything.. UserVoice the hell out of MS! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • Yea, cause UserVoice always works... We're still waiting for them to port over the functionality of their own software (such as W8) let alone from 3rd party stuff. Why not have MS Maps ready before dumping the working option? Or have a beta? Or even just confirm that all functionality will be available before the switch off? Perhaps because, as usual, it won't be happening?
  • Nothing in life always works, and nobody said it did, or was perfect.. The FACT that I've been here since MS started using it for mobile, and seen it work more times, than not, is what's relevant... Mathematics, and reasoning, says we should continue to use it. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • Not using it
  • What do you plant to use now? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • Yeah bro that's what I'm afraid of,
    Localization loss here in Middle East with the native maps app in W10M, as MS doesn't care as NOKIA used to do about Middle East.
    Thanks for sharing that info bro, cuz I've never used W10M
  • NOKIA used to care about Brazil too, we were the second biggest market for WP. Now we only have the crap that you call MS here. We used to have every phone with lower prices and produced here, now we only have 640 and 640XL selling here (they couldn't fix my 1020's battery because there was no spare battery). I love NOKIA and even more my 1020, but my next phone will be an S7/S8 edge
  • Same here. Maps is hopeless with any other language than English. It's almost impossible to use in Portugal. Not to mention pain bugs all the time. Can't believe that's the official map app for Microsoft platform. Shameful.
  • Lol. Hopefully it gets better (even for the US) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • HERE apps were updated today. When you open them, there is this message:  "On June 30, 20, HERE maps will no longer be available on devices running Windows 10Mobile. Use the Windows Maps app on your deviceto find your way after that."    
  • Just another reason why not to "upgrade" to Win10...LOL
  • Depends. I haven't touched HERE Maps in about 2 years because it's just awful. Remember, your experience and opinions do not always match the rest of us out there.
  • I've also switched to windows maps, but despite it having the same database, the here maps gives much, much better search results.
  • More accurate, yeah. At least here, outside the US. Well the database is there, it's the same.
  • I've found it to be excellent in the UK.
    I've didn't have any issues with it when on holiday in Vancouver, Portland, LA, Hong Kong. Hopefully they'll enhance the (Bing) Maps app or add additional apps to offer the functionality that HERE Transit and HERE Drive+ provide.
  • :)
  • I'd agree. The Microsoft Maps will do fine once they get true offline support with search. Other than that I do not see the need for HERE maps.
  • HERE was good for the offline maps. The Transit app displayed some routing info that other transit apps didn't and still don't. On one side of the coin, of the 2.7% still on WP, how many actually used HERE maps? But the other side, to those who are downplaying HERE pulling its apps, fewer app options doesn't take WP to a better place.
  • Well if ms make their maps app like here maps and use here maps api in mapping...we would have definitely no problem...
  • The problem is typical... Even if HERE decides to also pull support for iDroid, in the future, it's that they (HERE/MS) didn't decide to do it with those other platform. Once again making Windows appear less significant. The plan should have been to support Windows until HERE decides to abandon all platforms, if that's even the case... The point is that somehow (like clockwork) Windows always at least appears to be second rate for mobile... It's just not good for business. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • True, but there is a difference here you left out: MIcrosoft Maps (the core experience) relies on/is powered partially by HERE already. Android has Google Maps. iPhone has Apple Maps (and Google Maps) It is only on Windows Phone is the default mapping system HERE based making the HERE app much more redundant. In terms of trying to streamline the user experience (as well as likely reduce costs) it doesn't make much sense to continue carrying on all of those apps when you can do it with just one.
  • That's true.. I agree with that. Well, I guess the decision would be put on HERE'S shoulders.. I say that because we could expect them to develop a W10 app that rivals Maps.. More choice for the consumer, and competition.. That's what we as consumers should always hope for. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • Bottom line: If iDroid has it, then Windows should have it as well. There should be no app gap. None. It's NEVER gonna be acceptable, no matter how some of us try to justify it. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • Well i don't understand why ms is not give a full team of developers to each app..i mean they are such a big company..they can give 5 engineers to each app to complete its development..
  • I can't comment on that... We don't know how many developers MS has working on Maps.. And, it may not ever be a case of how many people are working on a single project.. For all we know they might have to many people working on Maps, which may be holding it back... The point is that we don't know the details about that to know if it's even an issue. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • I thnk their developers are worth more to them being pimped out to partners than developing internal apps.
  • Wait a minute.. Why do you say "powered PARTIALLY by HERE"???? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • Also, this kinda sounds like what Apple has been accused of in the past.. Dictating what apps are available to users... I mean, Google has great maps, but they don't appear to be blocking any other mapping service.. THE CHOICE SHOULD BE THE CONSUMERS. It just doesn't show confidence in your own product when you want another pulled to ensure yours shines, and is front and center.. Then there's the whole popularity of HERE in other countries where WP/WM is more popular, and where MS's native maps are less popular.. It just doesn't make any sense. MS should be promoting choice rather than proprietary BS. I'm not saying that we have all the facts just yet, rather if this is indeed the case then I don't agree with these actions. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • I am not sure where you have been, but the reason Windows seems like a second rate mobile platform is because it is a second rate mobile platform. Why are you surprised it is treated like one? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I'm not meaning to come off as "surprised" it's being treated like a second rate platform, rather if this isn't your first day here you would have perceived that I am TIRED of it being treated like a second rate platform... I only worded my comment as such because we do not have all the details about what is going on here... To question weather rodneyej is naive, or not, is crazy... Lol. You should know better by now. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • Again, it is treated like a second rate platform because it is a second rate platform. Until that changes, it will always be treated as such.
  • I tried to use the W10m Maps app recently and was a big disappointment, it doesn't feel offline (it hangs when connection is poor) and the driving mode is not as good (IMHO). Also, I couldn't find a free driving mode, like a GPS and Here Drive does, when you don't set up a destination and it just show you the streets ahead and traffic.
    And at least here in Brazil it doesn't have nearly as many POIs as Here(which by itself has way less than Google Maps, sadly)
  • A free driving mode is what I miss the most and something that I suggested in feedback a long time ago. If the Maps app had this, I'd be a happy camper.
  • You know what? I've noticed that as well. Are these maps truly offline?.. They don't seem to be 100% functional offline... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • I feel that the maps are offline, but the routing and search are not, like they are with HERE, that only needs connection for traffic update
  • Interesting.. I do believe that's the case.. Sux. MS must fix this. I'm submitting a lot of feedback today... HERE is gone, Maps are the future. Might as well start telling MS what we want. That's what MS wants us to do anyways, and they are expecting, and prepared, for a **** ton of feedback with this announcement. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • I was going to say the same, it wasn't that good at least to me. I have been using Microsoft Map that comes preload on WP. But some people think it's the greatest thing since slice bread.
  • If you live in Europe, the Map app is just awful.
  • Exactly. People from the US obviously don't understand how bad the Maps app actually is.
  • Could not agree more. HERE Drive is light years ahead of Maps. I'm UK based, and Here has frequently given me better routes than Google products. Offline functionality is great. If here went as an option to purchase, then I would.
  • Never touched here apps either since I started used Windows Maps, far better for me.
  • Daniel, Did you forget what user base you are dealing with on these boards? Of course every opinion they have and every complaint they have automatically applies to every person in existence in the world! After all, it is all about them and Microsoft is always 100% wrong in anything they do or say.
  • Yup. I'm waiting for the moronic "we need" comments as if that one user speaks for the entire username.
  • So, basically, you're saying people shouldn't voice their opinion unless you agree with it.. I say that because I know if you read an opinion that you agree with you would not complain that it's being voiced..... Think about that. Then think about your comment. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • @Daniel,  Exactly, your opinions do not match with rest of us here :P  
  • I think the same applies to you; I have been using HERE Drive, Maps and Transit on a continuous basis since they were first released and find them to be excellent at what they do (very far from awful). Windows Maps on the other hand is unusable for many on Mobile for car navigation because you can barely read any of the text and numbers on a smartphone while driving. HERE Drive on the other hand has a clear navigation display and UI on a smartphone because it was designed to be used that way. I don't see any planned strategy in what Microsoft and HERE have been doing, they are just frustrating Windows Phone users and continuously giving us less reasons to be the loyal customers we have been.
  • I couldn't have said it better myself! I will sorely miss the HERE drive UI
  • I prefer the interface of Microsoft Maps over HERE Drive, although landscape mode takes up too much real estate. The bigger problem I don't know a workaround for is turning off turn by turn directions. Whenever it gives directions it pauses my music(over bluetooth) and hijacks the radio to talk and doesn't auto resume my music. Then when I hit a button on the radio to resume the music Cortana opens...then I'm back to touching the phone to fix it. With HERE I just didn't install a voice and it's all good.
  • Ok, the biggest thing about music resuming with MSMaps is that the music doesn't pause.. Lol. It keeps playing (muted) in the background, so when it comes back on the song is ending, or over.. Lol. I hate that!! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • Press the ellipses in the lower right and tap the mute button. Navigation will continue, but the voice will not bother you
  • What Maps has that HERE doesn't is that Maps let's you know just by glancing what side of the road your address is on. A very big deal when driving at night. Now if it would tell us audibly like google maps that would be even better.
  • What do you use Daniel as your navi app, is WAZE any good on Windows Mobile?
  • I think Waze is cartoonish.. Lol. Just my opinion. Some people might like that, but I prefer the more formal approach when I'm getting pissed off, getting the wrong directions... Lol. Morgan freeman giving directions would be cool, though. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • Yep Dan, MS Maps is great. Well, so long as you don't rely on it for route planning, it's fine. Oh, and so long as you don't need it navigating in car of course, or want it to stream maps online, or get directions offline, but you know, anything to get rid of Here Maps which does do all those things but somehow doesn't feel very Windows 10 whilst doing it. Probably because it works. Still, MS maps is grand for viewing maps. Can't see why anyone has any issues with this move at all...
  • I haven't used it only the transit app which is better then my transit authoritys app which is using Google maps API while their site has been using bing for a few months. Though it does have some extras like reporting data changes like business closers which is hard to find on bings site on mobile
  • What about HERE Drive and City Lens?
  • Drive functionality is integrated into Windows 10 Maps. There are actually new features not present in Here Drive: selection from multiple routes, after-next turn information, and lane hints. Interface-wise, I personally find the new Maps better as well. One thing not carried over are the favorites saved in the Here account, so if you had many of those, you have to re-create them; I hope a migration path is offered in some way. I didn't notice any display of POI (fuel stations, rest stops, etc.) on the map. That's about it for the difference.
  • As always, Microsoft will loose more people because of this. Microsoft thinks the world is only made of USA and thus, the rest will use other OEMs. Many people buy the WP devices because of the quality content where Nokia was king (outside of USA). I know 4 people (me incuded) that bought WP especially for HERE Maps & Drive.
  • Good job, Daniel. WP has too many apps anyway...
  • I use Bing Maps and Navmii so this news doesn't bother me at all. Posted via Universal Windows App on W10
  • I can't even download HERE maps on my 950... "doesn't have required features"??
  • Just and FYI for the time it's relevent. There are two versions of HERE maps. Make sure you download the one for win10
  • There really is no point to downloading it now since it's being deprecated in 3 months. Posted via Universal Windows App on W10
  • I prefer w10 maps app
  • It's not THAT bad... I've been using it lately What really bugs me is that it doesn't save your settings.. This is the same problem we had with Bing maps on WP7-7.5.. Then MS fixed it. Now, it seems as though we're right back where we started AFTER 6 YEARS! WOW!. Windows. Lol. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • More "coming soon", who didn't see that coming......
  • xD the only thing I caught my attention in this article was the word " soon " 
  • Well, to some extent everything is "coming soon" at some point, in any platform. Unless it's announced at release, which I take it's not a common practice in software development. Granted, the things that are told to be "coming soon" should eventually come.
  • "Coming soon" is coming soon!
  • Lol. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • Reboot. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • Hey I use Commute everyday in India. Will be a big loss if Here is gone. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • HERE is continuing to license their map data to other companies.
    only the Windows apps are disappearing Posted via Universal Windows App on W10
  • HERE is still licensing their map data to Microsoft too.  I wouldn't be surprised if they dropped their iOS/Android apps too and instead licensed their data to Google/Apple as well.
  • The companies that bought HERE are Apple CarPlay partners.  I don't see them ditching Apple any time soon.
  • The Windows 10 Maps app will also suggest multiple routes and let you compare them before selecting a route. Then throw in Cortana, who will suggest when you need to leave to get wherever you're going (whether it's to work or anything you have on your calendar with the location specified) and you have much better functionality. For me, though, while I love Cortana telling me when I need to leave to get to where I'm headed (especially when she tells me half an hour earlier than expected due to heavy traffic), I still use Waze (even with all its bugs and quirks that will never be fixed) for actual real time directions. Every once in a while, I give the Maps app a try while driving, and it's definitely improving, but at least for now, Waze still wins. Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • See my comment about Waze above.. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • This is a loss but at the same time win10 maps gas been fine for me. Didn't really use Transit but Drive was epic(will really miss that). Anyhow looking forward to /build// and hopefully another Insider release to fix the current bug whereby when you action a notification from the lock screen, the pin input(numbers) don't appear.
  • Thanks for writing this Daniel, hopefully there's still be some light at the end of this dark tunnel. Although the tweet being from over 6 months ago is still worrisome, and until we see these rumoured improvements in Win10 Maps, I can't help but worry we're still going to be worse off due to losing a lot of the HERE suite's functionality (including City Lens which you seemed to have forgotten!).
  • Why didn't they just port their iOS app to W10M instead of complaining and saying they have to build a new app from scratch when they don't?
  • Porting is not that trivial and the Islandwood bridge is still being developed with the SDK only matching around iOS6. That limits what you can and can't port over.
  • What APIs would be needed that iOS 6 would have lacked?
  • The wonders of some companies.... Posted via Universal Windows App on W10
  • Actually, it just makes you sound silly, no offense. I can tell you're not a developer because you make it sound like they just they just open MS Paint hit 'Save as' and choose 'iOS" and tada ported! That is not how this works.
  • Now wouldn't that just be sweet!
  • Didnt MS come up with a app which supports IOS apps why cant it be used they made it sound easy just like u described :P  
  • They're probably going to drop their iOS/Android apps too... and focus on licensing their Map data to various companies.
  • This getting suck. Now the only common navigation app between my 1020 and android overseas phone is Waze. And it is internet dependable. Feels like at my wits end to micro manage my navigation apps and syncing favourites already, as well as choosing my primary app. Can anyone help me? 1020 I have Maps and Waze
    Android have GMaps, Waze, HERE, Baidu Maps.
  • My 1020 is w10m
  • Have you tried Co Pilot? It's pretty good too. Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • Thanks for the tip. It's paid right? I had quite a few bits of bad and disappointing ex