Highlights from the CTIA show, TomTom overhauls its Start device for the European market, and more …

Highlights from the CTIA show, TomTom overhauls its Start device for the European market, and more …

HTC unveiled the first 4G phone destined for the US market, the Evo 4G, which will be available to consumers this summer. Among other nifty features, the phone has two cameras, one high-resolution on the back and the other low-resolution on the front, making video calls easy. Samsung introduced three new smartphones, the Sunburst, the Strive, and the Galaxy S; Microsoft showed off several of its Windows Phone 7 Series devices; Nokia released the 5230 Nuron; and BlackBerry introduced a new Skype mobile feature to be available on most 3G BlackBerries and Android smartphones come April.

Smartphone Stauration

Smartphones will outnumber feature phones by 2011, according to a new study from market research firm Nielsen. Smartphone penetration in the US market was at 14 percent at the end of 2008 and 21 percent by the end of 2009. If growth continues as projected, topping the 50 percent mark in two year’s time won’t be a stretch.

Meanwhile smartphone adoption has grown 32 percent in the past year in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy, according to a study from comScore. That amounts to a total of 51.6 million subscribers. The UK, where smartphone use has surged 70 percent in the past year, leads the way with more than 11 million subscribers.

MapQuest Mobile

MapQuest introduced a new free iPhone app, MapQuest 4, which transforms an iPhone into a personal navigation device. Features include turn-by-turn spoken instructions and an energy-saving mode that allows the screen to dim without interfering with voice instructions. The app does not include an automatic re-route feature, such as those available on most PNDs from the likes of TomTom and Garmin.

Navigon App

Navigon unveiled its latest version of its iPhone MobileNavigator app, 1.5.0. The new version allows users to connect to Facebook and Twitter, adds panorama and 3D map views to the interface, and makes personalized route recommendations—for $9.99.

TomTom restarts Start

TomTom overhauled its Start device for the European market. The new Start¬2 significantly improves the PND’s software. New features include lane assistance, text-to-speech directions, and real-time traffic information. The product hits stores in mid-April with a price tag of €129.95 for single country mode and €149.95 for the European version.

Garmin targets runners

Garmin debuted a new GPS watch for runners, the Forerunner 110 sports watch. The watch features straightforward information about where a runner is located, how far he or she has to go to reach a destination, and how fast his or her feet are moving. The Forerunner also stores information so runners can review stats and set goals on Garmin Connect. Garmin is yet to announce how much the watch will cost.

The Leaf EV

Nissan announced that the Leaf all-electric sedan will cost just $26,380 after federal tax credits. That includes a home charging station and installation. California residents will receive an additional $5,000 state rebate, dropping the price tag to $21,380. Plug In America, the non-profit organization that champions plug-in vehicles, called the pricing “a game changer.” The car will hit the market in 2011, around the same time as GM’s Chevrolet Volt, which is expected to be considerably more expensive.

MapIT: The World Cup

In anticipation of this summer’s World Cup, MapIT, the largest digital mapping company in South Africa, is preparing a new mapset outfitted with all the logistical detail needed to navigate the event, including road closures around major matches, stadium entrance gates, ‘Fan Park’ points, drop-off areas, and 3-D displays of key landmarks in the nine host cities.

Tele Atlas, MapIT’s parent company, will also give developers access to free API features that will allow them to create special custom-designed programs for mobile and Web applications. “Our mapping for the World Cup covers not only the latest street level changes and new access ramps, but also the geometry around existing and new stadiums and walkways. It is designed for people on the move,” says MapIT managing director, Ray Wilkinson.

Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to TU.

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