Garmin First handset nuviphone announced

Last night at a secret event, Garmin, best known for its GPS receivers, announced its first foray into the mobile phone arena. The Garmin Nuviphone is a full touch based device with a large 3.5″ touchscreen and integrated GPS. Other features include a camera with video recording and support for HSDPA high-speed 3G networks. This UMTS/GSM handset is planned to be available in the third quarter of 2008, but pricing has not been announced.

Garmin has not released technical specifications, but they have announced some innovative software features that are sure to impress. The Nuviphone, when placed in its vehicle mount, will automatically turn on the GPS receiver and switch to navigation mode, transferring any active calls to handsfree mode. The GPS navigation will include Garmin Online, which provides easy access to local traffic information, gas prices, and hotel rate information.

Photos taken with the built-in camera will automatically be geo-tagged with location data, so that users can visually browse through their landmarks. Google is also a big partner, adding its integrated local search capabilities, as well as access to Google’s Panoramio library, with snapshots of landmarks tagged with location information.

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