Friday, April 29, 2011

Free Blackberry GPS apps review

I have a Boost Mobile Blackberry. I do not care much for overpaying for contract telephone service. The down side to this, is that the phone does not come with any decent navigation software. Sure it is loaded with Blackberry maps, but that program is seriously lacking.

I have been using Google Maps on my Blackberry for quite some time, but there are major problems with using that as a navigation aid. First off, if you scroll off of the mapped route, you can not just click a button to get you back to the list of where to turn. You have to scroll back on the map to one of the turn points to get back to the directions. I do not know why they took away this functionality, originally you were able to skip to the next step if you scrolled off of the mapped out path, but with the last several updates (I would consider them downgrades, as they actually reduce functionality) this feature has been missing. Other issues with Google Maps is that it does not update your route automatically if you stray from the mapped out course.

So I searched high and low on the Blackberry Apps store for a free GPS program for my BB. What I found was Life In Pocket, and TeleNav GPS Navigator.

I will start with Life In Pocket. This app not only provides a GPS navigation program, but also has a lot of useful web links, and other features, such as a cheap gas finder, links to different news feeds, and much more. The navigation program does not provide any mapping, but works with Google Maps, and BB Maps. Honestly I could not see much of a benefit in the integration with either map program. The screen shows only your speed, distance to turns, and an arrow on a blue background. I used this program to return to the office from a customers location of which I was unfamiliar with. I ended up in a turn only lane which took me off of the original path. Once the device needed to recalculate my route I could not determine where I was, or where I was going, so I reverted back to the app that I used to get me to the customers location. TeleNav GPS Navigator.

Unlike BB Maps, Google Maps, and Life In Pocket, TeleNav GPS Navigator provided 3D maps of your route. It also includes audible turn by turn directions. It brought me to the customers location, in an area that I was unfamiliar with, with no problems at all. I also used this program as a fall back when after testing Life In Pocket and getting off course. This program picked up the slack, and I even traveled off course to see how it would react to a change in route on the fly. Almost immediately it recognizes that you did not take the turn that it told you to make, and recalculates the next best option. This program finds your location faster than any other GPS program tested (including Google Maps) and a little GPS/satellite icon appears on the status bar of the phone, next to the antenna signal, so I assume it is tapping directly into the GPS chip of the phone, which makes me wonder why none of the other programs show this icon, perhaps they are not accessing the GPS directly? This app kept me from getting lost, and will be my go to GPS app when ever I am in a vehicle that does not have a GPS built in. In-fact, the navigation on this free program is so good, that I would say it rivals that of the GPS built into my bosses Toyota Sienna.

So if you are looking for an excellent GPS navigation program for your Blackberry, and do not like paying for apps like me (although this app is well worth paying for) then I would totally recommend that you look up TeleNav GPS Navigation on the BB App store.

Google Maps is still good for plenty of things, just not navigation. I still use Google Maps when I need walking or public transportation directions, or when looking for a specific store, address or bank nearby. In fact, out of all of these programs, I use Google Maps the most. Perhaps it is because it is all I have used for about 2 years, but more likely it has to do with the fact that for simple mapping purposes it works great.

Life In Pocket is not a total waste. I would probably still use the program for some of the other features, and links that it brings to the table, but it is very doubtful that I will ever power up the GPS navigation on the program ever again.

Happy navigating.

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