Garmin International, best known as a maker of global positioning system (GPS) devices, has released its latest smartphone app, Garmin Fit.


Garmin has several GPS-enabled apps for travel, but this is its first fitness-related app. The program, which is available for both the iPhone and Android phones, can be used by runners and bikers to track speed, pace, distance, time and calories burned.


When combined with optional Garmin hardware, including a new $50 wireless adapter, the app can also display and track information such as heart rate and running cadance. You can even take phone calls or send text messages on your smartphone without turning off the app.


"Garmin Fit is the ideal solution for users who are new to the fitness tracking landscape and for those looking to stay totally connected," Dan Bartel, Garmin's vice president of worldwide sales, said in a prepared release.


The information gathered by the Garmin Fit application doesn't just reside on the user's smartphone. It automatically uploads to a free website, Garmin Connect, which keeps ongoing workout records and allows users to share and compare their data with friends.


For many users, the $0.99 app will serve as a cost-effective alternative to Garmin's $150 Forerunner device, which tracks much of the same information, but doesn't take phone calls.


The new wireless adapter works on the ANT+ wireless standard, which was created to transmit health monitoring information between multiple devices.


Garmin's other health and fitness products may not be as widely known as its travel devices, but they have a good track record in this area. Last week, the Heart Rate Watch Company named the Garmin Edge 500 its number-one bike computer pick for 2011. That device also collects heart-rate data and other information.

GPS maker Garmin releases fitness app for iPhone and Android
99-cent app turns your phone into a personal trainer.