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Garmin Releases Its First Apple iPhone, Google Android GPS Apps

garmin-pilotGoogle long offered mapping technologies for a variety of mobile platforms with its mobile version of Google Maps that allowed users to track their GPS location and to conduct local searches, with the exception of turn-by-turn directions.

On October 30, 2009 when Google first announced it would offer free GPS turn-by-turn navigation starting with support for its Android mobile operating system, the stocks of traditional GPS manufacturers significantly dropped.

TomTom’s stock lost about half of its value, while Garmin’s stock lost about a quarter of its value.

As smartphones become ever more advanced with operating systems and hardware that support GPS navigation, more people are choosing to consolidate different devices into a single device such as a smartphone.

The trend has significantly lowered demand for standalone GPS units, causing traditional GPS makers to launch mobile versions of their software for smartphones.

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Google Earth 5.2 released, brings new features like recording trips

Google today announced the availability of Google Earth 5.2, which boasts new features outdoorsmen will rejoice about.

In the latest version, you can connect your GPS device directly with the application to import your track, but now, new features will show you more information and statistics about your journey than ever before.

The latest version includes the ability to view elevation, speed, and graphs about your route in Google Earth. A new feature also records your route, so you could play it back later, with historical information including speed and slope.

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Apple is getting serious about location-aware mobile technologies

U.S. Patent No. 20090325603 – Apple GPS location sharing transmission

According to a new U.S. patent application by Apple Computers Inc., the company is preparing new location-aware technologies that would make using an iPhone (and probably the iPad) more efficient and social. According to this specific patent, location sharing will become a seamless process where users could effortlessly share their location directly from the call screen.

Users can already share their current location simply by finding their location in the Maps application, then sharing it via a few more additional taps. However, the current process requires somewhat too many taps and simply wouldn’t be as efficient as choosing to share your location from a single press while concurrently talking with your friend.

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Google to release free GPS turn-by-turn navigation app, TomTom/Garmin stock plummets

Well, we knew Google would do this sooner or later. The company has announced it would begin to offer free GPS turn-by-turn navigation with its new and free Google Maps Navigation application.

The application will be initially available only in the United States and with support for devices running Android 2.0 or higher (see the second embedded video below to learn more about Android 2.0).

Google Maps Navigation supports voice search, satellite view, 3D view, traffic information, automatic rerouting, among many other features you would find on premium GPS devices.

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Twitter adding native geo-location support

According to a new blog post by Twitter founder Biz Stone, Twitter will begin to include native support for geo-location based information via a new API. The new feature will now give users the option to include their GPS location from each tweet.

The feature will be available directly from Twitter and it’s mobile site. Third party applications will also begin to add the GPS support from the API.

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First full GPS iPhone app almost here

The first more advanced GPS turn-by-turn navigation app to launch on the iPhone seems to be the MobileNavigator Europe app from Navigon. The app is now listed on iTunes and marked as “available soon” on the company website.

The app features 2D and 3D displays, most recent NAVTEQ maps with 2.1M+ European POIs, Real Sign Post display, Take Me Home function, Speed Assistant, portrait and landscape support, among many other features. The complete feature set can be found here.

The app currently only supports maps of select European areas. The total download size required on your iPhone is 1.65GB.

This app is very aggressively priced at $94.99.

The same company also offers its app on other platforms such as Symbian and Windows Mobile.

The other large players in the GPS navigation space such as TomTom will also offer their own iPhone apps (see the TomTom iPhone video here) given how lucrative the app store can be. The iPhone now offers TomTom the possibility of a real revenue stream given how closed the iPhone OS is when it comes to cracked software, compared to other platforms TomTom is available on such as Symbian.

The other big player in the space, Garmin, has opted to develop its own branded smartphone dubbed the Nuvifone (see hands on video) with its GPS app installed. Although unveiled on February 12, 2009, the Nuvifone is still not on the horizon for a release. Although unannounced, we can likely expect Garmin to also release an iPhone version as well to remain competitive.

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Microsoft settles GPS patent suit with TomTom

Microsoft and TomTom have both sued each other over alleged patent infringement in car navigation GPS systems. The companies have now reach a five-year agreement. Under the terms, TomTom will pay to license eight patents, while Microsoft will be able to use four TomTom patents without any payment. Microsoft said in a written statement, “We are pleased TomTom has chosen to resolve the litigation amicably by entering into a patent agreement,”

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Mercedes Benz announces standard GPS in trucks

Mercedes Benz has just announced that its Atego, Axor, and Actros trucks will now include a standard truck GPS unit. The GPS unit includes maps of 26 European countries with 15 different European languages support. Only the 26 European country maps are available with the unit. The device includes weight, height, and speed limit notifications, surely to please all truck drivers. It also features a new feature called TMC that is used to develop the fastest routes by taking into consideration real time traffic updates. No word on availability.

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