Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Garmin nüvifone Integrates GPS + Google

Garmin International made its entrance into the mobile phone market by unveiling the nüvifone, a slim, touchscreen device that combines a premium 3G phone, mobile web-browser, and GPS personal navigator.

When powered on, the 3.5-inch touchscreen display reveals three primary icons -- "Call," "Search," and "View Map".
Calls are initiated by tapping the "Call" button and selecting a name from the contact list or by using the on-screen keypad. When the nüvifone is docked onto a vehicle mount, it automatically turns on the GPS, activates the navigation menu, and enables hands-free calling.

The phone includes preloaded maps of North America, Eastern and Western Europe, or both.

The nüvifone is Garmin's first device to include Google local search capability, allowing users to search for locations like "coffee shops" and Google will sort the results based on the user's current location and relevance. Information provided by Google includes a web-based rating so that users can select the most appropriate destination and route directly to it. In addition, the nüvifone includes a web browser incorporating touchscreen operation. The nüvifone also includes personal messaging functions, including email, text, and instant messaging.

The phone offers a "Where am I?" feature that lets users touch the screen at any time to display the exact latitude and longitude coordinates, the nearest address and intersection, and the closest hospitals, police stations and gas stations.

Garmin will also offer mobile entertainment applications. A built-in camera allows individuals to take a picture that will automatically be tagged with the exact latitude and longitude reference of where the image was taken. The user may then save the image so they can navigate back to the location, or email the image to a recipient who can navigate directly to the location. The nüvifone also provides direct access to millions of geo-located landmark and sightseeing photographs available through Google's Panoramio picture sharing site.

Other multimedia functions of the nüvifone include a built-in video camera, MP3 and MPEG4/AAC.

Garmin anticipates that the nüvifone will be available in Q3 2008. Pricing details have not been announced.

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