May 30, 2007

Garmin Announces Developer Toolkit for GPS

Garmin took a nice step up and released news that they are going to get cozy with website and other software developers by releasing and API library to allow developers to better "talk" to GPS units. So for instance, you used to have to download waypoints from to your computer and then upload them to the GPS. Now by clicking on the Garmin logoed button, the website will talked directly tot he GPS and send the coordinates of the next cache directly to the unit.

There are six current API's, one of which supports location based services, so it's no surprise that these GPS enablers were announced in coordination with the Where 2.0 conference that is happening in San Jose.

Press release, including details of the APIs after the jump...

Garmin announced the Garmin Developer website - a developer zone dedicated to software developers and content providers who want to make their website, applications and data content compatible with Garmin navigation systems. The Garmin Developer website provides both free and licensed Garmin resources and a library of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), toolkits and web services offering six core products: Garmin Communicator Plugin, MotionBased™ Web Services, Content Toolkit, Garmin PeerPoint™ Messaging System, Garmin LBS Toolkit™ and Fleet Management Interface.

"Until recently, third party websites have been unable to communicate easily with Garmin devices," said Charles Morse, Garmin's director of mobile and PND marketing. "This announcement is a win-win for developers and Garmin and it paves the way for more innovative applications. By expanding our developer applications and allowing programmers to integrate Garmin's leading-edge technology into their sites, we are making it easier for third party content providers to leverage the huge community of Garmin devices by providing tools that will allow them to communicate directly with Garmin systems. This will create new markets for the programmer's content and services, while generating a grassroots movement that will spread Garmin's name and technology to consumers through third party websites and content distribution channels."

The Garmin Communicator Plugin API is a browser plugin and JavaScript support code that allows developers to transfer location data - such as waypoints, track logs, maps and points of interest (POIs) - to and from a website and Garmin device. The benefit of this service to the retail consumer is that the API will simplify loading location data to a Garmin GPS. For example, on, customers can quickly upload their activities (track logs) from the GPS. The cross-browser, and soon the cross-platform plugin, provides a consistent experience for MotionBased customers. also integrates the plugin so that users can easily transfer selected geocaches (waypoints) to their Garmin device by clicking a new Garmin icon on the website.

"The Garmin Communicator Plugin API has made it possible to transfer cache listings to a Garmin device directly from a web page," said Jeremy Irish, Groundspeak's president and co-founder. "This plugin drastically simplifies the process and saves time that is better spent on the trail."

Also available in Garmin Developer is the Content Toolkit, which lets developers compile secure POIs for Garmin GPS devices. Developers can then market this content to customers of Garmin products, creating an entirely new ecosystem of content, devices and customers who are eager to expand the capability of their GPS device. Examples of POIs that could be developed are locations with free wi-fi access, historic marker sites or safety camera locations. Future versions of the Content Toolkit are expected to include routes and travel guide information.

With the PeerPoint Messaging System, developers can tap into Garmin's location message format and send precise latitude and longitude information to phones running the Garmin Mobile XT application. This published SMS interface is expected to be highly sought after by location-based websites, fleet management systems, sales management applications or any other application that needs to integrate remote destination sending and navigation. The individual who receives the location message will be able to save, view or route directly to the specified location with Garmin's turn-by-turn directions. Also available for smartphones, Garmin Mobile Smartphone SDKs provides mobile applications running on Windows Mobile or Palm OS devices with access to GPS information, interactive maps and intelligent routing including live traffic conditions. With these tools, developers can easily create LBS solutions for a wide range of Palm OS and Windows Mobile devices that are often already in use by enterprise customers.

Thanks to the Garmin Location-Based Services (LBS) Toolkit, developers can add location-based services to any Java-based mobile phone application. The LBS Toolkit incorporates Garmin's proven navigation API, local search, real-time content delivery services and mobile advertising delivery services into one powerful platform. This service was originally launched in late-2006 and several third parties have already taken advantage of the capability. Xora and Agilis, leading GPS tracking and mobile resource management software providers, were the launch customers for the Garmin LBS Toolkit. They use Garmin's navigation API for delivering turn-by-turn navigation to mobile workers, thus further improving their productivity.

The Garmin Fleet Management Interface enables fleet tracking, messaging, dispatch and navigation directly on Garmin's portable navigation devices, such as the StreetPilot, nüvi and zūmo series. Utilizing third party sensor and communication devices, companies can not only track vital GPS information like vehicle location, speed and direction of travel, distance traveled, elapsed time, but also fuel status, idle times, number of stops, cargo door access, cargo temperature, and battery and thermostat levels. The Fleet Management Interface also enables direct-to-driver communication via text messaging, as well as instant re-routing with "new destination" message prompts.

Garmin is also announcing the MotionBased Web Services API providing developers access to the same rich GPS content that customers enjoy. This new service will enable third-party websites to store, manipulate and display Garmin GPS data with little or no development. The API will be available for testing in the summer of 2007 and will compliment the Communicator Plugin API.

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Posted by Scott Martin at May 30, 2007 6:20 AM

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