Thursday, February 4, 2010

Nokia offers smartphone GPS software for free

Nokia smartphone users must be doing a happy dance right about now. A month ago, Nokia started offering free GPS navigation software to worldwide users of their smartphones - seriously, free. One of their advertising slogans is "For free. Forever."

Most smartphones have built-in GPS capability, but it's turned off until the user buys an app that activates it. Very clever users can activate the GPS capability themselves, but you still need an app to make the GPS useful -- a driver and/or an interface, in computerese.

(Users of Google's Android phones have had free GPS right from the start. They finished their happy dance a long time ago.)

Apparently the free GPS software is a very popular idea. It's been downloaded millions of times in a month. Yesterday, a Nokia executive said, "We're averaging a download a second, 24 hours a day."

Now, if Samsung, LG and Motorola will jump on the bandwagon, the rest of us can do the happy dance, too.

(BE CAREFUL! The fine print on one of the Ovi Maps webpages says that while the software is free, downloading the accompanying maps could get massively expensive if your phone plan doesn't include unlimited data - or if you can't download them to your phone through your computer.)

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