Nokia Launches HERE, a Multi-Platform Maps Service

Nokia may be best known for its phones, but the cellular giant hasn't put all of its eggs into Microsoft's Windows Phone basket; Nokia also maintains a deep and detailed maps database. Today, the company unveiled HERE, a robust, cloud-based map solution designed to work across a vast swathe of platforms.

The web-based version of HERE is, well, already here, and it delivers speedy maps and directions results. Highlights include stunning 3D maps, traffic conditions, the ability to save specific locations online for easy access from any phone, tablet or PC, and the automatic identification of notable landmarks near the location you're browsing. You can then leap to those locations and see them in 3D if you so desire.

Nokia also announced plans to acquire earthmine, a Berkeley, California-based 3D mapping company. Earthmine focuses on street-level 3D mapping technology.

Aside from the web app, Nokia announced plans to bring HERE to several specific platforms in the coming months. An iOS app should pop up in the App Store within weeks, while an Android SDK is slated to release to developers sometime in early 2013. The company also said it plans to develop a special mobile web version of HERE for the Firefox OS being released next year. (A standard mobile website is already in place.) The company also announced an interesting "LiveSight" augmented reality service, which will use HERE's 3D maps to "make discovering the world as easy as lifting up a phone," whatever that means.

Where will we see LiveSight first? The Lumia lineup's Nokia City Lens app, naturally. The addition of LiveSight to the Lumia range highlights one awkward omission in the planned device support for the HERE mapping service: Nokia didn't mention dedicated Windows Phone 8 support whatsoever in its press release.