Android moving into next-gen navigation device

Mio's MiBuddy touchscreen Internet and navigation device joins a growing list of gadgets Android is being installed in outside of smartphones

Mio Technology will launch a new version of its MiBuddy 4.7-inch touchscreen Internet and navigation device next year running Google's Android mobile software, a company representative said Tuesday.

The next generation MiBuddy will be a mobile Internet navigation device (MIND), complete with Internet browsing and a keypad that slides out from the underside for real touch typing.

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The MiBuddy aims to fill a few roles. It fits onto a car dashboard mount so it can perform all the functions of a car GPS (global positioning system) navigation device, and it's also made to be carried around as a personal navigation device as well as used for comfortable Internet browsing on a screen bigger than most smartphones, the representative said.

Current MiBuddys use Microsoft's Windows CE operating system exclusively. Windows CE will continue to be offered for the next generation MiBuddys coming out next year, in addition to Android.

MiBuddy works with a number of wireless technologies, including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and has a built-in microphone, speaker and media player. The next generation MiBuddys will be offered with WiMax wireless broadband as well.

Details on the price of the device and exactly when and where it would hit markets globally were not immediately available.

Google developed Android as an alternative operating system and software pack for the smartphone market. The Linux-based OS has been adopted on a number of new handsets by several major manufacturers, including High Tech Computer (HTC), Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Motorola and Acer. One aim of the OS is to make Internet browsing easier, as well as connect to Google services online including Google Maps, Gmail and more.

Shipments of Android smartphones are forecast to reach 6.5 million this year, according to Taiwan's Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute, a publicly funded researcher.

The MiBuddy navigation device joins a growing list of gadgets Android is being installed in outside of smartphones, including netbooks such as Acer's Aspire One with Android, Arm processor-based mini-laptops called smartbooks and some home entertainment devices.

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