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Nokia drives cars into the clouds: Hear HERE, you're here, hear?

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Nokia will assault car manufacturers next week, using the International Motor Show to launch HERE Auto, an updated platform intended to carve Nokia a home in the dashboard.

The Finnish phone-maker will be adding an improved platform for car manufacturers willing to embed its technology – one which comes with live traffic information, weather and local services as well as a mobile app which will tell drivers where they parked and that someone has let their tyres down too.

Nokia reckons that NAVTEQ, the company it bought in 2007, is already powering 80 per cent of manufacturer-fitted satnav systems, and the Finns want to capitalise on that, as well as upselling new features.

The integration with the browser-based HERE service is critical. It means you can plan a route on your laptop or PC before leaving and find it automatically synchronised with your dashboard. However, Nokia also makes great play of its ability to work offline once the sync has taken place... while Google Maps can leave you lost in the wilderness when the signal disappears.

Fitted car-nav systems are under pressure from smartphone navigation, which provides much the same functionality. The MirrorLink standard now allows smartphone systems to take advantage of the dashboard screen and controls using Wi-Fi Direct, which risks making fitted systems entirely redundant.

But Nokia's HERE Auto Companion also provides additional functionality such as parking notification and tyre-pressure monitoring – which would be impossible with a smartphone-based system. Nokia is also pushing its RESTful API in the hope that manufacturers will devise killer applications for built-in systems.

One may legitimately ask whether standalone mapping can justify a car having independent connectivity, but that's not important as within 18 months every new car sold in Europe will be required to feature an embedded mobile phone capable of dialling 999 the moment it hears the tinkling of glass. Nokia's initiative will piggyback on that – along with the insurance companies and police forces which would also like to know where the cars are.

Vehicle manufacturers are keen to carry their own branding into cloud services. General Motor's OnStar and Ford's Sync both demonstrate car-makers' appetite to stay in touch with customers for the lifetime of the vehicle, rather than just supplying the platform from which others can benefit. ®

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