Garmin gets in the social-networking groove

A partnership with Where.com means that owners of select Garmin navigators can use the devices to tell their Facebook friends where they are.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
2 min read

For the most part, the only person you can socialize with on a handheld GPS navigator is the chick who tells you to turn left after 100 yards.

Garmin wants to change that. The device manufacturer has partnered with location-based app company ULocate to bring its Where.com software, previously available only on compatible cell phones and carriers, to some of its devices. (It hasn't said which ones specifically.) This will give Garmin owners access to Where's own Buddy Beacon software, which shares users' current locations with friends. It can be hooked up to Where's Facebook application, too, so you can tell your friends where you are.

Personally, sharing my location isn't exactly what first comes to mind when I use an in-car GPS navigator, but some of Where's other services sound helpful: Yelp reviews, gas price comparisons from GasBuddy, and a handful of others. Unfortunately, a Where representative told me on Tuesday, those aren't encompassed in the Garmin deal.

Location-sharing has been met with some skepticism. Many people thought that location-based social-networking and friend-finding applications would explode after the launch of the iPhone 3G, but we still haven't seen an epidemic of location-sharing take off. Many cell phone owners seem to be perfectly OK not having everyone on their Facebook friends list know where they are.

I might be sold if Where makes its gas price widget available to Garmin. That's something that Ms. "After 1.1 miles, take the exit right" hasn't yet been able to offer me.

This post was updated at 6:22 a.m. PT on Tuesday to clarify that only the Buddy Beacon widget will be available on select Garmin devices.