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Android version of Nuvifone boasts multi-touch

Feb 11, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive
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Garmin-Asus announced a multi-touch enabled Android version of its navigation-focused Nuvifone smartphones for the European market. The Nuvifone A50 appears to have similar specs to the earlier Linux-based Nuvifone G60, but adds a comprehensive suite of Google apps, as well as new styling and a touchpad.

A partnership between personal navigation device (PND) vendor Garmin and consumer electronics manufacturer Asus, Garmin-Asus offered relatively few details on the Nuvifone A50, which is set to roll out in Europe with an unnamed carrier in the first half of 2010. Previously, the company had announced that an Android version of its Linux-based G60 would appear no later than the first quarter of 2010. (The G60 itself shipped in Taiwan in late July, and then shipped in the U.S. on the AT&T network in early October.)


Nuvifone A50

(Click to enlarge)

The Nuvifone A50 has different styling than the G60 (pictured below), with a new touchpad mounted under the screen. The handful of other disclosed hardware features, however, match the G60. The phone sports a 3.5-inch HVGA capacitive touchscreen display, 4GB internal flash storage, a microSD card slot, and an accelerometer, and GPS, says Garmin-Asus.

Like the G60, the A50 also offers a three-megapixel camera with autofocus and geo-tagging, the company says. G60 features like 3G service, WiFi, Bluetooth, and mini-USB port are very likely to be offered as well.

Garmin-Asus' earlier, Linux-based Nuvifone G60

Beyond that, Garmin-Asus speaks only of software, which for the most part appears to be similar except for the Android stack (version not stated). The Nuvifone A50 offers Android's WebKit browser, as well as an onscreen QWERTY keyboard with predictive text input, says Garmin-Asus. Notably, it also offers multi-touch support, which is something of a rarity on Android phones, but may be de rigeur by the time the A50 ships.

The key attraction is the Garmin navigation application, which offers turn-by-turn, voice prompted directions, as well as location-related hooks "into virtually every function including email, text messaging, and photos," the company says.

The phone offers pre-loaded maps, so users do not have to wait for map downloads, "nor will they lose their turn-by-turn, voice-prompted navigation if they are out of cell phone coverage," the company says. The A50 is also said to support cityXplorer maps for public transit options such as bus, tramway, metro, and suburban rail systems. The Nuvifone A50 receives its location information from multiple sources including satellite, network-based, and terrestrial sources, thereby offering a better navigation experience than other smartphones, Garmin-Asus claims.

Head to head with Google Maps Navigation

Navigation was a major attraction of the G60 and its Windows Mobile-based sibling, the Nuvifone M20. While it appears that the A50's nav features will outshine the new, and highly-regarded Google Maps Navigation software available on the Droid, the Nexus One, and other new Android phones, it remains to be seen if the advantage is sufficiently large to make a difference among buyers.

No mention was made of offering Google Maps Navigation, but the A50 is said to offer Google Maps with Street View and 3D landmark functions. The phone also supplies Google Search by voice, Gmail, YouTube, as well as Google calendar and contacts apps, and access to Android Market, says Garmin-Asus. Other features are said to include on-device sync with Microsoft Exchange.

Stated Benson Lin, VP and GM of Asus personal mobile devices business unit, handheld business group, "The A50 brings premium navigation features to the Android operating system, offering users a seamless location based experience along with access to the wealth of applications that the platform affords."

Stated Cliff Pemble, Garmin's president and COO, "The A50 integrates navigation and GPS functionality throughout the device, which gives customers the versatility and reliability they need as they navigate their day."

Availability

The Nuvifone A50 is expected to be available in Europe in the first half of 2010, says Garmin-Asus. More information will later be available at the partnership website, here. The A50 will be on display at the Garmin-Asus booth (Hall 8, #8B127) at Mobile World Congress, on Feb. 15-18 in Barcelona.


This article was originally published on LinuxDevices and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

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