Magellan's smartGPS navigator has built-in Yelp reviews, syncs with your phone (video)

It's no secret that the GPS business has faced an uphill battle these past few years. Thanks to smartphones there's less of a reason to invest in a standalone navigator, and while GPS companies have been selling mapping apps of their own, that doesn't quite make up for plunging device sales, now does it? Well, Magellan has an interesting solution: the firm just announced the smartGPS, a dashboard navigation device that's designed to work in tandem with an iOS / Android app.

Naturally, both the smartGPS and the app have turn-by-turn navigation, so you can use either when you're in need of directions. But really, the device does so much more than that. Thanks to Magellan's new cloud service, all of your data -- recent destinations, etc. -- will get pushed across your various devices, including the navigator and mobile devices with the mobile app installed. (There's also a website where you can manage all of this.) By default, this syncing happens over your home WiFi network, but if you already left the house and are out of range, the smartGPS will instead use Bluetooth to talk to your phone. So what does this all mean? For starters, if you search for a restaurant on your phone, you can send it to your navigator so that you don't have to enter the address manually (and we all know how annoying that is). What's more, the navigator and app both have Yelp reviews and Foursquare offers built in, so if you wanted you could peruse reviews of cafes on your phone and then push the directions to the device.

As an aside, it's neat to see user reviews built into a personal navigator, which isn't exactly a typical feature. It also seems pretty well-implemented: there are big, yellow stars indicating the overall rating, so you needn't worry about having to drive and read a two-paragraph write-up at the same time. By default, the driving map takes up the whole screen, so you can keep those Foursquare offers hidden if you find them distracting. The smartGPS will be available in March (price TBA) with applications for both iOS and Android. (Note: these won't take the place of Magellan's existing apps.) Turn-by-turn navigation will be a premium feature -- an in-app upgrade. That's all she wrote for now, but if you want to see the whole setup in action, we've got a demo video embedded just after the break.

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Magellan Redefines Personal Navigation by Integrating Cloud Technology, Social Media and Real-time Location-based Data
Magellan SmartGPS Goes Beyond Traditional GPS to Help Consumers Discover Places & Services Around Them During Their Daily Routes
LAS VEGAS – CES 2013, January 7, 2013 – Magellan, a leader of innovative GPS devices for vehicles, fitness, outdoor and mobile navigation, today announced the Magellan® SmartGPS, a game-changing GPS device designed to completely redefine personal navigation by integrating social, local and mobile content, including Yelp and Foursquare, through Magellan's revolutionary cloud-enabled Smart Ecosystem. The Magellan SmartGPS is the first, total-solution navigation device to wirelessly sync the user's navigation data, such as favorite places and contacts, with a smartphone or personal computer, and to intelligently deliver stored and dynamic location-based information to the GPS display that is personalized to the driver's locale. Magellan will display the new SmartGPS ( device, a 2013 Innovations Honoree award winner, at the CES Show (LVCC South Hall, Ground Level, #MP25758).

"Magellan pioneered the GPS navigation industry, and in today's socially-driven world, we recognize that consumers want and need a much more comprehensive navigation solution that surpasses what traditional GPS devices and smartphones can offer," said Peggy Fong, President of MiTAC Digital Corporation. "We engineered our cloud-based Smart Ecosystem and SmartGPS device from the ground up to deliver an innovative SoLoMo experience to consumers who desire discovery, relevance and local awareness combined with navigation. Additionally, the Smart Ecosystem is architected to integrate with automotive infotainment and mobile network service platforms."

On-the-Go Information through Magellan's Cloud-based Smart Ecosystem
The Magellan SmartGPS communicates with Magellan's custom-built Smart Ecosystem, a cloud platform for an extensive database of constantly-updating, location-relevant social media and navigation content that is automatically pushed to the SmartGPS display to create a uniquely-rich driving experience. Complementing all the core navigation features and on-board maps expected in a premium GPS device, the Magellan SmartGPS provides drivers with valuable, timely information that enables them to discover the places and services around them wherever they go and whenever they need information.

For the first time on a single GPS device screen, Magellan SmartGPS consumers can simultaneously see maps, navigate, and see reviews, tips and offers from Yelp and Foursquare for nearby restaurants, stores and services, plus navigate to those locations without needing to use an additional device or application. As a vehicle progresses on its route, the SmartGPS accesses the cloud-based Smart Ecosystem to deliver a rich variety of location-relevant information "squares" that are displayed on the SmartGPS screen and graphically flip between service establishments in the vicinity. When the user taps on a square, detailed profile information is displayed including the address, phone and any available special offers or consumer reviews, plus an icon to navigate to their selected destination. In addition, the SmartGPS delivers current gas prices in the vicinity, weather, traffic events and speed camera warnings.

For first-time use, consumers set up an account in Magellan's Content Manager and connect their SmartGPS device to a computer with a micro USB cable. The SmartGPS intelligently manages and updates location- relevant social media and navigation content through an onboard WiFi connection. Whenever the Magellan SmartGPS is in Wi-Fi range, the device will automatically sync and start pre-loading data onto the SmartGPS device. The Magellan SmartGPS Wi-Fi connection makes it easy for users to easily plan trips and routes, and save and sync the information to their other Smart Ecosystem connected devices.

When the Magellan SmartGPS is not in Wi-Fi range, a smartphone Bluetooth connection can be used to update the SmartGPS information squares with the freshest, dynamic content using an already-established data plan. A Bluetooth connection will automatically connect the SmartGPS to the user's smartphone each time they are in their vehicle, providing 'always-on' connectivity for the user's in-car navigation experience. Users can quickly, safely and easily place a hands-free call directly from their SmartGPS when the device is paired with a compatible phone with a Bluetooth connection.

First Cloud-Enabled Content Delivery Solution to Connect Smartphones to On-dash GPS Devices
With free iOS and Android smartphone apps especially designed for the SmartGPS, the total-solution SmartGPS experience is truly mobile. Magellan connects the smartphone to the vehicle dashboard, enabling location sync and sharing, hands-free operation and data connectivity. Users can pair their Magellan SmartGPS device with compatible iOS and Android smartphones using Magellan's free SmartGPS App. Using their smartphone or tablet, users receive the same SmartGPS experience, including localized Yelp and Foursquare reviews and offers, optimized for a smartphone. Users can search for a location or interesting places to go, save the location in Magellan's Smart Ecosystem cloud, and through Magellan's SmartGPS App, send the location to their SmartGPS automatically via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth for in-vehicle navigation.

"SmartGPS combined with our Smart Ecosystem enables the user's smartphone via our SmartGPS App to be constantly and seamlessly connected to their in-vehicle dash", said Fong. "This provides a much safer driving experience because it eliminates the need to enter data twice or juggle multiple devices."

Premium GPS Features
Magellan's SmartGPS is engineered with a completely updated user interface on a 5-inch WVGA LCD display. A glass capacitive touch screen provides the touch and feel expected from a high-end consumer electronics device, including multi-touch actions. At the heart of the Magellan SmartGPS is a Texas Instruments Cortex A8 1 GHz processor to support the increased demand for high resolution graphics and multi-function data processing. Other essential hardware integrated in the SmartGPS includes 4GB memory to support the applications, detailed navigation maps and additional cloud content. A microUSB connector enables the SmartGPS to be connected to a personal computer or power source. A microSD card slot may be used for storing additional maps.

Continuing to enhance driver safety and peace-of-mind to see behind their vehicle, the Magellan SmartGPS is compatible with Magellan's award-winning Wireless Back-up Camera ($149.99 MSRP). When the vehicle is in reverse-mode, the SmartGPS will automatically switch from navigation mode to become a rear-view monitor that allows the driver to see what is behind the vehicle including children, pets and toys, or for assistance when parking into a tight parking space.

Targeted for availability in Spring 2013 through Magellan's consumer electronics and online partners, the Magellan SmartGPS is $249.00 (MSRP).