Move affects some GPS devices, SPOT watches
As expected, Microsoft has finally put an end to its MSN Direct wireless service. The aging system took advantage of FM signals to transmit data to a variety of devices, including Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT) watches, in-car and standalone GPS navigation systems, and other gadgets.
Alpine ships PND-K3msn
Alpine Electronics on Tuesday notified the press that its latest in-car GPS system, the PND-K3msn is now available for purchase. The unit's 4.3-inch touchscreen can display real-time traffic, weather, gas price and movie showtime information thanks to its compatibility with the MSN Direct service, but is otherwise identical to the company's existing PND-K3 unit. As such, it has text-to-speech functionality, Bluetooth pairing with compatible devices, and a highway junction view that makes it harder to miss turn-offs at complex intersections.
NCC is about to introduce five new Goodyear-branded GPS devices, with three of them out by Christmas, according to a Wednesday report by Engadget. The least expensive among them, the GY130, will include a 3.5-inch LCD touchscreen along with three million points of interest (POI), a SiRF GPS receiver, turn-by-turn directions and 3D view. The next step up, the GY135, will add Text-to-Speech capability, being capable of speaking out street names. The GY145 will up the touchscreen size to 4.3 inches but bring little else in terms of features and specs.
MSN Direct syncs nav units
Microsoft on Tuesday released an open Application Programming Interface (API) for its MSN Direct Send to GPS feature for personal navigation devices. With the new software, Microsoft allows users to any website to send street addresses, latitude and longitude coordinates, business listings, phone numbers, and other information to their GPS devices, without the need to copy the location and input it into the compatible device.
Microsoft SPOT Gone
Microsoft has quietly shut down its MSN Direct services for SPOT (Smart Personal Object Technology) Smart Watches, effectively ending the concept, according to a statement from MSN Direct program manager Jon Canan. The company says it and companies making the watches, such as Fossil, no longer have plans to develop a new version of the Smart Watch platform and now intend only to support existing products and pushing data to the watches, which can display weather and other small data wirelessly without the bulk of a larger device.
Garmin vehicle GPS systems
Garmin today unveiled three different Nuvi vehicle GPS systems, including one model that can use voice recognition to navigate the device’s interface. The 260W uses a sunlight-readable 4.3-inch wide touchscreen LCD to display information, and can speak street names. A trademark of the 260 series GPS units is the internal antenna that allows for a thinner design, while its rectangular shape is easy to mount in a vehicle. Garmin’s “Where To?” and “View Map” welcome screens are built-in to the device, providing users with the ability to search for a specific street address or establishment; destinations can also be located by category. Although pricing and availability information were not readily available, Garmin said that they will show the new units at CES 2008.