New Self-Driving Car Mapping Unit Backed by Amazon and Microsoft

 

Amazon and Microsoft are two major companies that are yet to enter the arena of autonomous car development yet, but this could be set to change soon. Reuters have reported that according to sources, Here, a mapping company owned by a number of German automobile makers could soon be provided with cloud computing capabilities by the two IT giants. The companies that currently own Here, BMW, Audi, and Mercedes’ parent company Daimler all have their own self-driving developments in the works.

Amazon are also reported to be interested in becoming a major shareholder in Here, which would position them to be the prime provider of cloud computing solutions to them. When you consider that Here collects a huge amount of data via sensors mounted atop thousands of self-driving cars belonging to the company’s owner firms, this would be a great boon for making the most of it.

Here was previously owned by Nokia, but was acquired by the German firms in December last year for €2.8 billion. Since this acquisition, Here have continued to state that “have stressed since the acquisition in early December that they are open to additional investors from all industries.” As a result, a number of companies aside from Amazon and Microsoft want to be involved with Here, including Renault and Continental, which both have a stake in the automotive industry. Continental in particular told the wire service that a decision as to whether they would purchase a stake in Here would come imminently.

With high-resolution mapping being so crucial to proper operation of autonomous vehicles, it is no wonder that so many companies are clamouring for a part in one so open to partnerships. As Amazon and Microsoft show, it’s not just those developing the cars that want to be a part of this sector either, with the IT and data requirements to run such cars meaning that even other service providers have a role to play in this developing technology.

Windows 10 Mobile Update Might Finally Arrive This Month

Whether Windows 8 mobile users have waited patiently for the update to Windows 10 or not is something the upgrade numbers will show, but up until now they haven’t had any other choice than wait. At least, if they wanted to keep their current Lumia phones powered by the older operating system. At first the update was promised to arrive in December last year, then it was January before being pushed to February, only to be postponed again.

The newest reports indicate that those were the last delays and that Windows 8 users will get the ability to upgrade to Windows 10 this month, after the monthly service update is completed for the Lumia 950 models. I should, however, point out again, that this isn’t officially confirmed information, at least not yet.

Microsoft plans to roll-out the update as an opt-in upgrade, allowing the users the choice to upgrade or not. At least at first. Once it has been verified that there aren’t any critical bugs or trouble with the upgrade, it will be pushed to compatible phones automatically.

With smartphones being as vital a component in people’s live these days, it is good to see that Microsoft takes its time to polish the operating system and make sure that everyone will get a great experience out of it instead of trying to stick to deadlines and then release a buggy product. It’s not something they can afford to do and the won’t.

It is an update that is well worth waiting for as I can say first hand that Windows 10 is an awesome mobile operating system. It takes a little time to get used to, as any change, but after a day, you won’t be missing any previous system. That is at least if you use your phone for communication where you’ll find all the popular instant messengers and similar things, but you might not find your favourite game on there yet.

German Car Manufacturers Nokia Maps Bid Reaches Stalemate

Nokia’s “HERE” mapping technology is an attractive proposition for car makers looking to enhance the GPS functionality in future models. A number of Germany’s leading vehicle manufacturers have shown a keen interest and joined forces to make a bid for the company’s map software. However, talks between Nokia and BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen have become fractured on the basis of the technology’s value. The “HERE” software is valued between £1-3 billion but this estimated figure might have decreased if recent reports are correct about Uber pulling out of the bidding process.

The consortium of German vehicle makers feel they can acquire the company assets at a lower cost given this evidence whilst Nokia believes the £1-3 billion rate is fair. An anonymous, insider source said,

“Talks have not broken down, but they are at a delicate stage of brinkmanship,”

It’s also important to reiterate that these car manufacturers are customers of the “HERE” system and it makes sense to sell the mapping software to an existing client. They feel the technology is vital to provide accurate high-definition maps and create a form of smart cars based on internet connectivity. Furthermore, the software could be used in luxurious vehicles to warn of impending collisions, and become one of the first mass-produced driverless cars on the market.

A spokesperson from Nokia declined to comment on existing business negotiations. However, the most likely outcome is a compromise between the German car manufacturers and Nokia.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information.

Uber Bids $3 Billion for Nokia’s ‘Here Maps’

As Nokia is planning to sell its Here Maps, many companies are eager to get ahold of it for themselves. Uber has bid $3 Billion for Here, which is much less than the $8.1 Billion that Nokia paid for Navteq (original name of Here).

With Here being for sale, there are many companies that want to use the tech for their own projects, as well as the licensing fees that there will be. Uber will want the mapping tech since it is such a core part of its business and it can also cut down what it is paying for mapping tech that they currently use. The mapping may also come in very handy for Uber with their own self-driving car projects. This is the second mapping company that Uber is looking to obtain this year as it bought deCarta earlier in the year.

A few of the long list of other companies that will likely be bidding on Here are Apple, Amazon, Audi AG, BMW AG, Baidu, Facebook, Harman, Mercedes-Benz and Sirius XM. We will soon know who will have won the bidding war as The Times says that Nokia will decide what offer to go with later this month.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of andrewkarenwedding.

Will Microsoft Finally Buy HERE Maps?

Windows Phone users will understand the difficulty of choosing between Microsoft’s Bing Maps and Nokia’s HERE Maps when they need to use a good GPS app. While HERE Maps is a great app on its own, Microsoft’s alternative is still based on the HERE technology.

Microsoft first attempted to buy Nokia’s HERE Maps along with the big Nokia deal, but it was too expensive at that time. The Windows maker eventually ended up licensing the HERE technology and integrating it into its Bing Maps.

As time passed, its value went down and compared to the $8.1 billion acquisition Nokia made to buy out Navteq Corp back in 2008, HERE Maps is now estimated at a value of $2.1 billion.

Nokia is said to have reached out to Uber and other companies in hopes to sell its technology and focus on its wireless networking business. However, the more the latter companies and the Redmond giant ponder on what to do, the more opportunity they give other big name companies such as Apple or Google to strike a deal first. Why might they be interested you say? It’s simple.

The HERE technology is significant due to its availability on all major smartphone platforms. Given that Microsoft has previously showed interest into making a profit off the more popular smartphone markets with its own products, it would be wise for it to swoop in and make a deal ahead of everyone else.

Microsoft did not make any official statement regarding its intentions to buy the HERE technology just yet. But truth be told, it would be a shock to see the technology in the hands of some other company since Microsoft’s Bing Maps relies heavily on HERE’s data.

Thank you ZDNet for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of WPMania

Nokia Announces HERE Maps Availability To All Windows 8.1 Devices

Nokia HERE maps for tablets has been available only for the Lumia 2520 in the past, but things are about to change when the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 gets released this April.

Nokia has announced that the application will be available on all Windows 8.1 handsets, including Windows RT and Windows Pro devices. The app will also receive an update, which will improve its overall speed and performance of the app, using progressive rendering and other optimizations to be able to get city pages to load four times as faster. The offline maps are also stated to load as fast, but depending on the handset’s configuration.

It is said that Nokia also added mouse and keyboard support for laptops. however users can also interact via touch screen controls as well. The maps will have support for high-resolution satellite imagery, giving the user more details when zooming in on an area. Another addition is the app’s ability to store your search history and routes calculated, and place results lists will be able to be sorted by distance or rating.

The update is said to be released in the next few days in North America and Europe, offering users an alternative to Bing and Google generated map solutions for their Windows-based hardware.

Thank you Phonearena for providing us with this information

Nokia’s HERE Maps Removed From iOS AppStore, iOS 7 To Be Blamed

Nokia has removed its popular HERE Maps app from the iOS App Store. The Finnish company blamed its decision on iOS 7, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, for being a user experience killer.

“We have made the decision to remove our Here Maps app from the Apple App Store because recent changes to iOS 7 harm the user experience,” Nokia said in a statement.
“iPhone users can continue to use the mobile web version of Here Maps under m.here.com., offering them core location needs, such as search, routing, orientation, transit information and more, all completely free of charge.”

True to Nokia’s word, we could still access HERE Maps using an iPhone web browser, although lazy fanboys would no doubt prefer to have a nice big button to click rather than a long old web address to type in.

HERE is wildly popular on Windows phones, where it comes pre-installed, and is probably one of Nokia’s killer pieces of mobile software, but for the most part, it has failed to pull users away from old faithful Google Maps.

Anyone using Windows phones can still use HERE, which is handy because Microsoft has licensed it for 10 years. The mapping division will be a core part of Nokia’s denuded business, which will look significantly smaller when Redmond’s acquisition of the Finnish firm’s smartphone production division is complete.

Apple’s own Maps has a long and buggy story too, for when it wasn’t directing drivers onto airport runways, it was rather rudely deleting whole towns. Nokia also has a long and occasionally sad history with mobile phones, although its Windows phones recently made ground on Apple in Europe. According to recent stats, Nokia’s phones now account for about 10 per cent of all mobile sales in Europe, while Apple’s share shrunk from 20.8 per cent to 15.8 per cent.

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information