Garmin-Asus Unveils Android, Windows Navigation Smartphones

Joint-venture Garmin-Asus unveils two smartphones, one running on Google Android and the other Windows Mobile 6.5.3, which are packed with location-based features and services.

Garmin-Asus, a co-branded alliance between satellite navigation specialist Garmin and computer maker AsusTek Computer, announced the launch of two smartphones loaded with location-based features and services. The A50, which runs on Google's open-source Android operating system, also includes Garmin navigation with turn-by-turn, voice-prompted directions for use in a car or while walking. The M10, a full-touch, all-in-one smartphone powered by the latest version of Windows Mobile, 6.5.3, is expected to be available through carrier and retail channels in Asia and Europe in the first half of 2010. The N??vifone A50 is expected to be available in Europe in the first half of 2010.

The sleek and thin A50 has a 3.5-inch HVGA capacitive touch-screen display that incorporates a finger-friendly user interface and QWERTY touch-screen keyboard with predictive text capability. It also comes with hardware features such as 4GB internal storage, an expandable microSD card slot and accelerometer so every screen can be viewed in portrait or landscape mode. The A50 integrates Google mobile services with one-click access to Google Search by voice, Google Maps, Gmail, YouTube, calendar, contacts and Android Market, where users can find more than 20,000 applications. Location features are designed into virtually every function including e-mail, text messaging and photos.

The A50 also includes on-device sync with Microsoft Exchange server, with the ability to wirelessly synchronize contacts, calendar and enterprise e-mail. Garmin navigation is included and preloaded on the A50. Because maps are installed on the device, customers will not have to wait for third-party maps to download from a server, nor will they lose their turn-by-turn, voice-prompted navigation if they are out of cell phone coverage. The A50 receives its location (latitude and longitude) information from multiple sources including satellite, network-based and terrestrial sources.

"Location is relevant to everything you do," said Garmin's president and COO Cliff Pemble, who noted the A50 also supports cityXplorer maps so that customers can plan and use routes that include public transit options such as bus, tramway, metro and suburban rail systems. "The A50 integrates navigation and GPS functionality throughout the device, which gives customers the versatility and reliability they need as they navigate their day."

In addition to Android Market, the A50 has preloaded, apps through Garmin-Asus' connected services, which includes real-time, location-relevant information like weather, traffic, fuel prices, safety cameras, flight status. The company noted, however, that connected services information varies by country.

Customers also have access to Street View in Google Maps and 3D landmark images. The A50 also includes a three mega-pixel camera with auto-focus that automatically geotags images with an exact latitude and longitude reference of where the photo was taken. Customers may then save the image so they can navigate back to the location or e-mail the geo-tagged image to friends.