Sorry, Windows phone fans, but this one is a blockbuster of the wrong kind: HERE announced this week that it will pull its location and navigation apps from the Windows 10 Store on March 29. And it will never again update the apps or their maps on Windows Phone 8.
“Although the essence of the HERE apps lives on in the Windows Maps app, we are removing the HERE branded apps from the Windows 10 store on March 29, 2016 and will limit the development of the apps for Windows Phone 8 to critical bug fixes,” HERE announced today. “As the market evolves, we keep in step by introducing our apps for new operating systems while stopping support for others.”
There’s just no way to sugarcoat it: This is a huge loss. A huge loss. HERE is as ingrained in the psyche of any Windows Phone user as is/was Nokia. It is/was one of the cornerstones of the Windows phone platform and ecosystem. And when Microsoft purchased Nokia for $7.2 billion, I argued strongly that the software giant should never have considered that deal without getting HERE as well.
Well, that didn’t happen. And while I have to date removed the Windows Map app from my Lumia 950’s Start screen, and replaced it with the superior HERE apps–HERE Maps, HERE Drive+ and HERE Transit—that will no longer be possible.
I’ve recommended Waze in the past for navigation, and it’s a much better option than Windows Maps. But Waze is owned by Google, is rarely/never updated on Windows phones, and will be disappearing sometime this year, I’m sure. Windows phone users will be basically be stuck with Windows Maps for navigation. Or they can choose from a lackluster collection of third party (and paid) apps.
You may be wondering why HERE is killing support for Windows phone. According to the confusing announcement, it’s actually Microsoft’s fault:
“In the last few months, we made the HERE apps compatible with Windows 10 by using a workaround that will no longer be effective after June 30, 2016,” HERE’s Pino Bonetti writes. “To continue offering the HERE apps for Windows 10 would require us to redevelop the apps from the ground up, a scenario that led to the business decision to remove our apps from the Windows 10 store.”
“This means the HERE apps will no longer work on devices running Windows 10 mobile after June 30, 2016. To prepare for this change, we have also decided to remove the HERE apps from the Windows 10 store on March 29, 2016.”
If you’re using Windows 10 Mobile, HERE recommends using Windows Maps, which “contains many [but not all] HERE elements since Microsoft has developed it using the HERE Platform.” Those on Windows Phone 8.x can continue using HERE, as the apps will keep working. They just won’t ever be updated, nor will the maps that power those apps.
Sigh and/or ugh.