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October 31, 2010

Trick Or Tracker App Lets Parents Track Kids via GPS on Halloween

Trick or Tracker

This Droid App is free until November 2nd, and lets parents track their children while they're out trick or treating. Of course, you can still use the App after Halloween to track your child, but it'll cost you $9.95 for a lifetime license.

Basically it works like this: you install the client on any Android OS 1.6 or later phone, you can track the phone's location via web any web browser. When no GPS signals are available, the App can resort to wifi signals instead, though accuracy is reduced to about 150 feet. You can also track your child via your own Droid phone, if you have one, by installing the "Parent" portion of the client that lets you track your child.

The App lets you set how frequently location updates are sent (never, 15, 30, 45, or 60 minutes). More information and a link to download the software is available at TrickorTracker.com.

October 23, 2010

Rumor: Garminfone to be retired in January. iPhone App Soon To Follow?

Garminfone, R.I.P.

Well, I can't say I'm too surprised to hear this, but word around town is Garmin's joint venture with Asus will officially end in January, bringing an end to the ill-fated Garminfone.

That could very well mean we're close to a Garmin iPhone app. With the Garminfone platform no longer an IOS competitor, Garmin might finally be free to reclaim some of the lost smartphone business in the form of iPhone and Droid apps.

October 9, 2010

Is Garmin Secretly Developing an iPhone App?

Is Garmin Developing an iPhone App version of its nuvi software?

Just a few weeks after Garmin's CFO let slip that the company would be forced to make some tough decisions about Garmin's smartphone business (or lack thereof), rumors are flying that Garmin is developing an iPhone app version of its popular nuvi navigation software.

Magellan, TomTom, Navigon, and others have all already embraced Apple's platform and have released iPhone / iPod versions of their navigation software via iTunes. Yet for some reason, Garmin Mobile remains available only for Blackberry. That's a shame, because Garmin's mobile software is really quite good, and easily outperforms many other smartphone-based GPS solutions.

I suspect Garmin's ill-fated nuvifone is the main reason we haven't seen a Garmin GPS app for the iPhone or Droid yet. Hopefully that's all about to change.

There's no doubt that smartphones are taking market share away from Garmin's dedicated PND business -- to the tune of millions of units per year, and growing. Garmin's strategy of releasing Garmin-branded cell phones, and excluding the two most popular mobile platforms (IOS and Droid), is only taking more market share away.

Think about it - is anyone really going to buy a Garmin mobile phone? If you wanted a Garmin GPS THAT badly, you'd just buy a PND. Research suggests that customers view GPS navigation as a commodity, and that it has little influence over the cell phones they ultimately buy. In other words, no rational buyer is going to opt for the Garminfone over an iPhone or Droid based on the GPS capabilities alone. And it's just not realistic to think that Garmin is going to create a more compelling smartphone offering than Apple, Google, or Microsoft.

Garmin needs to stop throwing good money after bad, and get out of the Garminfone while it still can. Then it needs to bring its mobile software to other platforms beyond Blackberry, and quickly.

October 5, 2010

This is How the FBI Tracks Vehicles

Guardian ST820 Tracking Device

This is what it looks like when the Feds want to know what you've been up to.

According to a Gizmodo article, a mechanic found this device tucked neatly behind a vehicle's exhaust pipe during a routine scheduled maintenance service for a client's car.

Initially the mechanic thought it was a pipe bomb, but eventually correctly determine the device to be a Guardian ST820 manufactured by Cobham. Even more alarming for the vehicle's owner - the tracking device in question is used exclusively by the army and law enforcement.

So, if you see one of these taped to your car one day, you can officially panic.


AT&T Releases Version 1.7i of AT&T Navigator App for iPhone

AT&T has released version 1.7i of its iPhone GPS navigation app.

New in version 1.7i:

  • Speech recognition: Use your voice to enter an address or search for a business
  • Smoother 3D Navigation: Enhanced maps which enable a smoother driving experience
  • Lane Assistance: See what lane you need to use before you approach the exit

The new version also provides alerts for traffic cameras, works in landscape mode, and has a new "shake to go home" feature that automatically starts navigating to your saved home address when you shake the iPhone.

Unfortunately, the App still requires a monthly ($9.99) or annual subscription ($69.99).

Garmin Intros Forerunner 410 and Forerunner 210

Garmin Intros Forerunner 410 and Forerunner 210

Garmin has released two new Forerunner models aimed at novice and expert runners alike. The newly announced 410 has an enhanced touch bezel that's guaranteed to work even in sweaty, rainy conditions that often accompany outdoor running. Also included is a premium soft-strap heart rate monitor, updated software, and several new features.

Workout data is wirelessly uploaded to a PC via the included USB ANT+ receiver, and can automatically be transferred to Garmin's Connect web portal. The 410 can also includes a navigation mode that routes you from one waypoint to the next - a handy feature for finding your way back home, or down the trail.

The new Forerunner 210 focuses on ease of use, designed for runners who want to step outside and start their workout. The 210 displays real-time workout data, such as pace, distance, and time. Heart rate alerts can be configured to notify you if you're workout out too hard or not enough. You can also add a foot pod to track cadence.

Both models include the premium soft-strap heart rate monitor, and the USB ANT+ receiver. The 410 retails for $325, while the slightly more simple 210 lists for $300. Both models are expected to ship soon.

Rand McNally Announces TruckPC Fleet Management Solution

Rand McNally TruckPC

Rand McNally and DiverTech have teamed up to offer TruckPC - a "complete fleet management solution to the long-haul trucking market."

According to the press release, the system will utilize Rand McNally's IntelliRoute TND truck navigation platform (Read GPSmagazine.com's review of the TND 500 GPS).

So, you might be asking, "what's the difference between Rand McNally's existing TND GPS units and the new TruckPC?" Apparently, DriverTech, a company with extensive experience in developing in-vehicle hardware, will provide the hardware platform, and Rand will provide the navigation software.

Additionally, the system will support integration with various third-party dispatch and transportation management software systems, feature automatic vehicle location capabilities.

TruckPC will also allow fleets to wirelessly send documents and training videos directly to the device over the air. Demonstrations of the TruckPC are now available to interested fleets.  For more information, fleet managers should call 1-800-641-7263.


Is Your Cell Phone Secretly Tracking You?

Is Your Cell Phone Secretly Tracking You?

"About 90% of all Americans are walking around with a portable tracking device all the time, and they have no idea." That, according to the American Civil Liberties Union's lawyer, Christopher Calabrese.

We've all come to lean pretty heavily on our smartphones for email, text messaging, web browsing, music, and, occasionally even phone calls. But could you trusty cell phone secretly be recording your every move? Time Magazine has published an interesting article that basically says smartphones are essentially 21st century spies, and that telephone companies are ready and waiting to hand the government detailed records of everywhere you've been.

When a cell phone is powered on, it is constantly checking in with the cellular network, and sending details about its location. Cell towers can then track the phone's position. GPS enabled smartphones can provide even more precise location data to the network.

Recently, a federal appeals court rules that authorities don't always require a search warrant to obtain such information. So whether you've been at church, or attending a tea party rally, you might want to turn off that electronic snitch in your pocket.

On the other hand, should you find yourself stuck in the woods and don't know where you are, you might be very grateful for the police's ability to pinpoint your phone's location so they can rescue you.

When GPS Attacks: Man Follows GPS Guidance...Into Lake

Car Driving Into Lake

Yet another instance of man blindly following machine: a 37-year old Spanish man apparently had so much faith in his trusty GPS, that he followed the instructions right into a river.

In this driver's defense, the El Mundo article says the driver was a tourist who didn't know the area, and was driving late at night on a rural road.