Garmin's new car kit uses NFC to autolaunch navigation

Even if you don't use the Navigon app launching feature, the Garmin's new smartphone mounts hold and charge your Android or iPhone while you drive.

Antuan Goodwin Reviews Editor / Cars
Antuan Goodwin gained his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and electrification to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable.
Expertise Reviewing cars and car technology since 2008 focusing on electrification, driver assistance and infotainment Credentials
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Antuan Goodwin
2 min read
The Garmin Universal Smartphone Mount pictured with optional Air Vent Mount.

The Garmin Universal Smartphone Mount pictured with optional Air Vent Mount.
The Garmin Universal Smartphone Mount is pictured with optional Air Vent Mount. Garmin

Garmin has announced a pair of smartphone mounting kits for Android and iPhone devices that are designed to help drivers to interact with the Navigon navigation app safely and more conveniently.

The GPS hardware manufacturer and navigation software developer has really been pushing the Navigon app with its latest forays into the smartphone accessory biz. First, there was the Garmin HUD, a retro-sweet head-up display that displayed turn-by-turn directions on your windshield, but only if you used it with the Navigon app.

Snap your Android smartphone into the Universal Smartphone Mount and, if the device supports Near Field Communication, an NFC chip embedded in the cradle will automatically fire up the Navigon app for turn-by-turn navigation. That's a neat trick, but it also wouldn't be terribly hard to hack something like this together with a generic mount, an NFC laucher app, and an old NFC-chipped public transit card.

The suction-cupped windshield mount adjusts to accommodate phones between 58.6 mm and 76 mm wide and up to 12 mm deep and can be rotated into either landscape or portrait mode. To keep your phone's battery juiced, the Universal Mount also includes a Micro-USB charger with an extra USB port for a friend or family member's device.

On the other hand, the iPhone Active Mount doesn't boast the same NFC app-launching feature as the Android version (because the iPhone doesn't support NFC), but it is able to adjust to accommodate an iPhone in or out of a case, as long as it's between 58.6 mm and 76 mm wide and up to 12 mm deep. If those numbers sound familiar, it's because they're identical to the Universal Mount discussed above. What makes the iPhone Active Mount unique to the iPhone is its inclusion of a Lightning-to-USB power cable that plugs into its included 12-volt charger.

Both of Garmin's mounts can retail for $49.99 -- not a great price, but also not a rip-off for a windshield cradle and a car charger for your device. Those who would rather not stick their phone on their forward glass (or can't for legal reasons) can augment either mount with Garmin's Air Vent Mount Adapter to position their phone lower on the dashboard.