Sunday, March 18, 2012

Garmin’s mobile fragmentation problem

Garmin mobile app fragmentationGarmin makes mobile apps for iOS, Android and even Windows Phone devices, but not all apps have made it to all markets. The table below summarizes what’s available where.

Market App iOS Android Windows
 On the Road  StreetPilot  Yes  No Yes
 On the Road  Smartphone Link  Yes  Yes  No
 On the Road  Mechanic  No  Yes  No
 On the Road  Navigon  Yes  Yes  Yes
 Into Sports  Connect Mobile  Yes  Yes  No
 Into Sports  Fit  Yes  Yes  No
 On the Trail  BaseCamp Mobile  Yes  No  No
 On the Trail  OpenCaching  Yes  Yes  No
 In the Air  GTN Trainer  Yes  No  No
 In the Air  Pilot  Yes  Yes  No
 On the Water  BlueChart Mobile  Yes  No  No
 On the Water  Fishing My-Cast  No  Yes  No
 On the Go  Tracker  Yes  Yes  No

As you can see, iOS users are the clear winners, missing out on only two minor apps. And while Android is only missing two more, they lack the most important ones for several market segments — StreetPilot, BaseCamp Mobile and BlueChart Mobile.

So what’s up Garmin? When will we see Android versions of these apps?

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.


  1. Great post. I hope Garmin reads it. You could also add notification support on fenix to the list of things not available on Android. While minor (andbin beta), that would be an instant purchase of a fenix for me. I have a hard time thinking of a major player that has more lackluster Android support than Garmin. Which is ironic considering they make a unit that runs on Android….

    • I wouldn’t hold my breath. Here’s a quote for a post by DC Rainmaker: “So what about Android support? In talking today with the Fenix team, it’s not on the immediate radar. The challenge is that today on Android there really isn’t the same simplicity to implement that there is on iOS7. They noted they’d have to basically go model to model to get it working, even with the improvements made on Android KitKat 4.4, it lacks the ability to push notifications over Bluetooth Smart uniformly across all devices (handset).”

  2. Notifications on Android require an app to be running on your phone. On iOS, it’s part of the operating system. That probably explains why support for Android isn’t there yet.

    • The problem with Android and BLE is that the Google BLE stack is buggy as hell, so the Nexus phones all work differently. Other manufacturers (Samsung) implement their own BLE stack, that isn’t compatible with the Google stack. I’m not an iOS fan, but they did do BLE right. To get Android support for BLE means testing every phone/OS combo with any BLE device. Having a service on the Android side running is no big deal.

  3. Richard Howard says:

    Good post Rich. Also good point Brian about the fact that Garmin makes an android based handheld unit yet doesn’t support android apps. One of my favorite android weather apps has been My-Cast weather which is owned by Garmin. However, they haven’t updated it since 2011, Thus, it has become very buggy and out of date. Numerous comments from folks complaining about the lack of updates appear to be falling on death ears. Most of my apps seem to update monthly, some weekly. Garmin needs to get with it.

  4. Richard Howard says:

    Oops, I meant deaf ears. : ) Where is that edit button?

  5. Slight qualification on Basecamp for iOS: as you noted in your original Sept announcement, that’s available only for iPad 3rd generation or newer, since it requires Bluetooth v4.x . Sigh.

  6. Boyd Ostroff says:

    Rich, Garmin actually does have StreetPilot for Android. They just don’t make it available in the North American market for some reason. Do a Google search for “garmin streetpilot android” and you will find a bunch of youtube videos and a page for the app on Google Play.

  7. That is a nice article and a nice rundown. For quite some time I have been hoping for Garmin StreetPilot For Android for the North American markets. I realize that it is available in other places around the world, but not the Americas. I had really hoped that after the time had passed for the non-compete agreement between ASUS and Garmin to expire, something would happen, but not here.

    The other thing I would really like to see is the Garmin Nuvi 3592LM for sale in the United States. I really want to try an Android based stand alone automobile navigator.

  8. Korben Dallas says:

    I don’t know how things are with iOS and Windows Mobile platforms, but Garmin does NOT make an app for Android platform. The Smartphone Link app available from Google Play suffers from massive amount of functionality issues. It is hard to say whether these issues are rooted in the app itself or in the poor implementation of Bluetooth connectivity, but the fact is that the app simply does not work outside of laboratory conditions. It fails to “see” the GPS device even when the BT connection is there. It fails to work properly with Google Maps, which is arguably the primary purpose of Smartphone Link app. It suffers from many smaller, yet painfully obvious issues.

    Any attempts to contact Garmin support to report these issues get immediately bounced off to so called “Garmin phone compatibility list” available from Garmin web site. The list contains a scant selection of seemingly randomly picked Android phones, many of which most people have never heard about. (The same strategy is used by Garmin support to bounce off any reports of Bluetooth issues as well). Such “support strategy” might work sufficiently well to mislead IT-illiterate people… But for the rest of us, the verdict is rather obvious: Garmin is hereby denied the claim that they have an Android app. What they have a very raw, non-robust “placeholder” app that they use to stake a spot on Goggle Play.

    It is quite possible that the app developers are not to blame here and the actual issue is the notoriously poor implementation of BT connectivity in Garmin’s devices, but this does not really matter for the end-user.

    • As a counterpoint, I use the Smartphone link app on the Galaxy Nexus (Android 4.3) and it works perfectly. There has never been a single issue. I even bought Garmin’s traffic service and that works too. (I would have bought it a lot earlier if it had been clear that it is a $20 one off payment and not $20/year.)

      One thing you should be aware of is that the bluetooth stack in Android was completely replaced in Android 4.2. (They went from BlueZ to Bluedroid.)

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