Starting January 23, Microsoft and Nokia are making the beta of Nokia Drive+, which is Nokia's turn-by-turn navigation app, free for all Windows Phone 8 customers in the U.S., U.K. and Canada.
Microsoft made the announcement on the Windows Phone blog. The beta can be downloaded from the Windows Phone Store.
I've asked Microsoft officials when the app will be available to users outside those three countries and when it will be out in final form. I've also asked whether Microsoft is paying Nokia to provide the app to users of phones other than its own Lumia devices. No word back yet.
Update: A Microsoft spokesperson said the company had nothing more to share beyond what was in the blog post. So no answers to any of my questions above.
Nokia promised in June 2012 to make its Drive app available on all Windows Phone 8 handsets. This is much needed, given Microsoft removed turn-by-turn navigation from Bing Maps when it released Windows Phone 8.
Microsoft and Nokia are seeking feedback on the Drive+ beta via the app's "feedback" tab, according to the blog post.
In other Windows Phone news, Verizon announced on January 23 that it will make available the Samsung "Odyssey" ATIV Windows Phone 8 starting on January 24. The device will be available for $49.99 after rebate.
Verizon already offers a couple of Windows Phone 8 devices: The HTC 8X and the Nokia Lumia 822. The Samsung Odyssey is a mid-range phone. It originally was supposed to be available on Verizon in December 2012.