Hitting the road? Nokia’s HERE map and navigation apps have new features, work on more Windows Phone 8 models

With summer travel season in full swing, mapping and navigation apps are getting a big workout on many people’s smartphones. One bit of Windows Phone app news overshadowed by last week’s big Nokia Lumia 1020 unveil was that the company’s trio of free travel apps—HERE Drive, HERE Transit and HERE Maps—each received a nice update. More importantly, they’re also now available for all Windows Phone 8 smartphones.

On its blog, Nokia said last week that the apps got a face lift and, in several cases, some handy new features. The rundown:

HERE Drive/Drive+

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HERE Drive now shows real-time traffic information around your area and adds a feature called My Commute, which provides the estimated travel time to the office right on the app’s Live Tile, so you know whether you have time to grab coffee or need to head out early. While you’re driving, My Commute continues to monitor traffic and lets you know if any unexpected hiccups have occurred or a better route is available. (Curious how real-time traffic works? The Nokia Conversations blog had an interesting behind-the-scenes post about it recently.)

HERE Drive+, the premium version of the app, also adds the ability to navigate in offline mode without a SIM card. HERE Drive+ is pre-loaded and available for free on select Nokia Lumias, and comes as a paid upgrade for other Windows Phone 8 models (more details here). HERE Drive+ is an especially good option for international travelers since the app has a global navigation license for all 95 supported countries.

HERE Maps

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HERE Maps adds transit station details and the ability to pause LiveSight augmented reality scenes for easier exploration.

HERE Transit

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HERE Transit combines schedules and route details for bus, train, subway, ferries and more in one handy place has been redesigned to make it easier to create and quickly access favorites.