Make us your home page
Instagram

GPS takes on smartphone navigation

Mitac International, the maker of the Magellan line of GPS devices, is taking the if-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em approach. Its new $249 SmartGPS takes advantage of the Cloud and social media in an effort to co-exist with smartphones rather than compete with them.

Mitac International, the maker of the Magellan line of GPS devices, is taking the if-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em approach. Its new $249 SmartGPS takes advantage of the Cloud and social media in an effort to co-exist with smartphones rather than compete with them.

Makers of portable global-positioning systems are caught in a squeeze.

Once a luxury item, in-dash navigation is showing up in cheaper cars, while smartphone apps such as Google Maps and Apple Maps are adding more nav-system-like features, such as spoken turn-by-turn directions.

Mitac International, the maker of the Magellan line of GPS devices, is taking the if-you-can't-beat-'em-join-'em approach. Its new $249 SmartGPS takes advantage of the Cloud and social media in an effort to co-exist with smartphones rather than compete with them.

The SmartGPS has a 5-inch screen. One half of the screen works like a typical GPS that can link to a phone via Bluetooth.

The other half of the screen is taken up by boxes that contain traffic and safety alerts, fuel prices and constantly changing, location-aware windows that present you with information and offers from stores, restaurants and other places of interest.

These are downloaded and stored on the device whenever you're parked within range of a Wi-Fi network. There's even a crude Web browser available when you have a Wi-Fi connection.

When you tap one of the squares, it expands to display information and reviews culled from Yelp and Foursquare, along with any available deals nearby.

If all of this sounds distracting, it can be. On the other hand, I liked some of the audio cues, such as the warning when I approached a stoplight equipped with a camera to catch red-light runners.

The other "smart" aspect of the SmartGPS is its ability to connect with free Magellan companion apps. Using the apps, you can map an address, route or point of interest, tap "Send to SmartGPS" and upload it via Bluetooth whenever the phone and nav system are within range of each other. It can be a lot easier and safer to enter a destination ahead of time than to try doing it while driving.

As demand for standalone systems wanes, navigation will increasingly be handled by the Cloud, connected devices and perhaps dedicated smart phone apps such as Magellan's $50 RoadMate. In the meantime, the SmartGPS provides a useful bridge between past and future.

GPS takes on smartphone navigation 05/12/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 10, 2013 5:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  2. Miami woman, 74, admits to voter fraud. Does jail await, or will she go free?

    State Roundup

    MIAMI — An 74-year-old woman pleaded guilty Monday to filling out other people's mail-in ballots while working at Miami-Dade's elections department.

    Gladys Coego
  3. Bigger ships carry Georgia ports to record cargo volumes

    Economic Development

    SAVANNAH, Ga. — Bigger ships arriving through an expanded Panama Canal pushed cargo volumes at Georgia's seaports to record levels in fiscal 2017, the Georgia Ports Authority announced Monday.

    The Port of Savannah moved a record 3.85 million container units in fiscal 2017, the state said, benefiting from the larger ships that can now pass through an expanded Panama Canal.
  4. Dragon ride in Harry Potter section of Universal closing for new themed ride

    Florida

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019 — sending wizard fans into a guessing game with hopes for a Floo Powder Network or the maze from the Triwizard Tournament.

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge on Sept. 5 for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019. The ride, originally the Dueling Dragons roller coaster, was renamed and incorporated into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when the hugely popular area opened in 2010.
  5. Would you let your company implant a chip in you?

    Working Life

    Would you ask an employee to get a chip implanted in her hand? Sounds invasive and intrusive. But come Aug. 1, one company in Wisconsin will be giving it a try.

    Three Square Market - a developer of software used in vending machines - is offering all of its employees the option to get a microchip implanted between the thumb and forefinger. [Photo from video]