Las Vegas - Garmin is expanding its Prestige series of flagship portable navigation devices (PNDs), which feature its top-end navigation engine, and it is launching an Android app that will bring connected services to multiple Bluetooth-equipped Garmin PNDs.
The Garmin Smartphone Link app, which is free, enables an Android phone to send data via Bluetooth to any Bluetooth-equipped Garmin nuvi PND, whose map will display Garmin Live Services information downloaded by the smartphone via cellular.
The app is compatible with the 2475LT, 2495LMT, 2595LMT, and 3490LMT and the new 3590LMT, which is one of three new Prestige series models being introduced here.
The new Garmin Live services include a combination of free and paid-for services available through the Android app. Subscription pricing wasn't available.
Garmin has offered PNDs with embedded cellular modems to provide only paid-for services, and one such model, the nuvi 1695, is still available. Garmin also currently offers PNDs with included and optional FM receivers to stream traffic data.
Because the Android app uses the Android smartphone's cellular data connection, Garmin is able to offer select services for free with the app, a spokesman said.
The free services are weather, myGarmin messaging, points-of-interest (POI) ratings, Garmin Tracker, MyGarmin Messaging, and a form of live local search.
With the local search feature, users must use their smartphone's browser to find a point of interest, then send the POI to the PND via Bluetooth for navigation.
Garmin Tracker lets users view the location of Garmin's GTU 10 tracking device on the PND's map. MyGarmin messaging sends notifications of firmware updates and notification that premium services are about to expire.
Premium services available for a monthly subscription consist of traffic, an advanced weather service, fuel prices, real-time speed- and red-light-camera alerts (only in Europe for now), and photoLive Traffic Cameras.
The photoLive feature lets users view real-time photos from more than 10,000 traffic cameras across the U.S. to get a glance at traffic and weather conditions. Users simply select the road they'd like to look at, and the feature displays real-time photos from that location. Users can also save favorite cameras for quick one-tab access.
With the app, users can also send a POI from any search engine on their phone to a nÃ¼vi to navigate to the POI. It is also possible to sync favorite locations from a nuvi to the phone, and vice versa.
In addition, Smartphone Link also helps consumers find their car after parking it. When a driver parks, the nÃ¼vi uses Bluetooth to send the vehicle's parked location to the Android phone, whose navigation app will use it as a POI to guide users back to the car.
Live services not available on the company's current connected PND are photoLive traffic cameras, POI ratings, and Tracker.
In expanding its Prestige series, whose first three models shipped in late 2011, the company is bringing out three thinner models with 9mm depths and larger 5-inch capacitive touchscreens compared to the other Prestige models' 4.3-inch capacitive touchscreens.
All of the current and new Prestige models feature dual-orientation displays, which allow for portrait and landscape orientation, and Garmin's top-end Guidance 3.0 navigation engine, whose features include traffic information delivered by FM HD Radio every 30 seconds.
The new Prestige models start with the 3550LM, which features photoReal junction view to display a 3D rendering of 60,000 street junctions, 3D landmarks, terrain views, Bird's Eye junction view to view complex intersections from above, and optional $69-suggested receiver to receive HD Radio-delivered traffic updates. It also comes with free lifetime map updates.
The 3590LMT adds free lifetime traffic updates via included HD Digital Traffic receiver, voice-activated navigation, Bluetooth hands-free calling, and Smartphone Link compatibility. Prices and ship dates were unavailable.
The HD Traffic receiver and the smartphone app deliver largely equivalent traffic information, a spokesman said.