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Old 05-30-2007, 01:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Review: Blackberry GPS software alternatives

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Lots of action lately it seems on the GPS front. I've recently played with all the choices I'm aware of, and I'll give you a few notes on each. See also Stinsonddog's site for information and reviews on all kids of BlackBerry stuff, GPS included.

Google Maps 1.5.2
This is a must-have killer app, with or without GPS. Maps load quickly. Traffic data is available in many cities. Satellite view is wonderful. It's easy to download and learn. You can load .kml files created by Google Earth directly from the client (few people know this; go to "Find business" and paste in the URL of a KML file...try it!). It pairs quickly and easily with my borrowed BT-338, and I have no reason to expect that it will have trouble with the newer BT-359 or the svelte GPSlim 240 that I've just ordered.

Pros:
  • It just works
  • Moving maps with GPS, map or satellite view
  • Excellent overall quality, stability and utility, with or without GPS
  • Good interface for saving locations
  • Free

Cons (and I have high hopes that many of these will be rectified soon):
  • While navigating using GPS, no automatic turn-based alerts, audio or otherwise
  • While navigating using GPS, no automatic re-routing when off route
  • No option to disable backlight while using GPS
  • Sometimes have to stop and start the application to reconnect with GPS puck (this has only happened for me after the puck is out of bluetooth range, and only sometimes)
  • No option to save bookmarks/waypoints/tracks off the device

TeleNav
Many people swear by this application, which requires a monthly service fee. I admit that I haven't tried it. I think it's fair to say that if you're willing to spend the subscription dollars (I am not), you will be very happy with TeleNav's ability to get you from here to there.

Spot
This is an interesting application that attempts to provide some of the more traditional GPS capabilities, such as topo maps, elevation profiling, track logs, geocaching, and so on. A free demo is available, which shuts down after a short time limit. The full version is $50. If you need advanced GPS capabilities for your Blackberry, this is your only choice for now. My feeling is that it's a bit overpriced, but it has some very nifty capabilities.

Nav4All
This a promising and rather mature navigation application, which is free for the time being. It has a rather complex interface, but it's very full featured, and includes a range of web enabled capabilities, such as flagging waypoints on the fly, taking and uploading location-based photos, uploading a trace log in real time, and a bunch of other very interesting stuff. This application works on many different phones.

Pros:
  • Fully international. Lots of languages, for the interface, waypoints and audio directions.
  • Free (for now).
  • Lots and lots of navigation features.
  • Automatic turn-based directions with voice prompts.
  • Automatic rerouting.
  • Detour functionality.
  • Tons of location-based services.
  • Huge searchable online database of waypoints.

Cons:
  • Complex.
  • User experience not as "slick" as Google Maps.

GPS Track
This is a one trick pony. But what a trick! Pair your phone with your GPS puck and let it gather data for awhile. Then save, e-mail or upload your path, as a .csv (excel), .gpx (GPS exchange) or .kml (Google Earth). If you have Google Earth, you can see my sample test track by clicking this link. It's a shame that one can't run this application at the same time as another GPS program, but my understanding is that only one app can talk to the GPS at once. Someone please tell me I'm wrong.

"Maps" from RIM
This is the built-in application provided by RIM. It has a few interesting features, but I hate it, which is why I forgot to include it in an earlier version of this review.

Pros:
  • While paired with GPS, press spacebar for cool nav info
  • Map locations from address book
  • Vector maps instead of bitmap (who cares? still slower than Google)
Cons:
  • Subjective impression is that it's slow and unstable
  • No POI lookup. Where's the nearest Starbucks? Who knows?

EDITED 9/25/07 TO ADD: The version of Maps that came with my BB 8320 (1.2.26) has improvements that make it my preferred app while navigating in a strange city. Plus it tells me satellite status, another strike against Google.

Summary: [also edited 9/25/07]
Different strokes for different folks. If you have the latest BlackBerry with the latest OS, the built-in mapping application is probably all you need. If you have some money to burn and just need to get from one place to another without thinking too hard, TeleNav is a safe bet. If you're a Google fanboy like me and also don't want to spend money every month for mapping technology, Google Maps Mobile is the answer, and I argue you'll want to keep this amazing application handy regardless. I was intrigued by Nav4All's impressive capabilities, but the level of effort I had to go through to get directions and make it work was such that I am sticking with Google Maps when I travel on business. If you're a Geocacher or other advanced GPS user, try Spot before you buy. And if all you need is to leave a trail of breadcrumbs, GPS Track performs this task perfectly.
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Last edited by spblat : 09-26-2007 at 01:52 AM. Reason: stinsonddog link
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Old 05-30-2007, 03:02 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Awesome review!

Awesome review!

Thanks Spblat!
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Old 05-31-2007, 12:59 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Whoops!

Forgot to include any mention of the RIM mapping application included with OS 4.2. I will edit my review at some point with a few comments.

But it's safe to expect that my summary will remain entirely unchanged.
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Old 06-01-2007, 12:10 PM   #4 (permalink)
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There. Added a few scornful notes about the RIM "Maps" application.
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Old 06-12-2007, 01:35 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I have a new 8800 with cingular service and I'd rather use a one-time purchase product. I've seen some threads on blocked GPS and I'm not sure what that entails to get removed, if I have it. If I upload something like Google Maps am I good to go? Or do I need to pay cingular/at&t to unblock the GPS?

I'm also looking at trying Wayfinder since I do some Euro traveling. Any thoughts on that product?
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Old 06-12-2007, 02:07 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockymtnway View Post
I have a new 8800 with cingular service and I'd rather use a one-time purchase product. I've seen some threads on blocked GPS and I'm not sure what that entails to get removed, if I have it. If I upload something like Google Maps am I good to go? Or do I need to pay cingular/at&t to unblock the GPS?

I'm also looking at trying Wayfinder since I do some Euro traveling. Any thoughts on that product?
As to the first question, my advise is to stroll into a Cingular store and ask the resident geeks that question. See if their 8800's on display can load Google maps from google.com/gmm , then see if GMM can talk to the GPS. If they make you pay to "unblock" the GPS, that would suck terribly. But you can expect to pay for the Internet connectivity that Google Maps requires to function.

As to the second question, no idea. I'll have to check it out. this review (of the navigator product on a non-blackberry) seems to think it's pretty cool.
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Old 06-12-2007, 12:07 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Well, it doesn't look good. I downloaded google maps and when I try to open it get the following error message:
Quote:
Error starting gmaps$2d153$2dm2_L1: Module "gmaps$2d153$2dm2_l1' does not match codfile timestamp of sibling module 'gmaps$2d153$dm2_L1-1'.
I'll swing by the store tonight. The nice thing is I still have the leverage of the 30 day, no questions asked return period to get it straightened out.

Thanks for the help.
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Old 06-12-2007, 10:40 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Now that Telenav is pissing me off, I have to check out google maps. I've heard good things about it since they implemented gps, so I'm anxious to try it out.
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Old 06-12-2007, 11:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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blakeatl, what kind of problems are you experiencing with Telenav? That's certainly the direction AT&T tries to push me, but for that reason alone, I tend to want to look at alternatives.
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Old 06-13-2007, 11:27 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockymtnway View Post
blakeatl, what kind of problems are you experiencing with Telenav? That's certainly the direction AT&T tries to push me, but for that reason alone, I tend to want to look at alternatives.
The newest version 5.1.29 won't take my bluetooth connection and Telenav is stating that as long as you don't have their bluetooth receiver, they won't support the problem. Version 4.7 worked great, but if they won't support what I'm paying for, then it's time to move on.
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Old 06-20-2007, 05:02 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Is there a possibility to download Nav4all not OTA?
e.g. over Application Manager or another installation program?
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Old 06-26-2007, 02:40 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I am a new Blackberry Pearl User and am interested in the Telenav GPS and I have a few questions:

1) Will I be able to make a call while the GPS is in use ? I had the Verizon version and I could not make a voice call unless I exited out of the GPS software.

2) Is the GPS function available in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico ?

3) What happens to the GPS function if I am in an area where ATT/Cingular has no service, will the GPS still work?

Thank you in advance for your help
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Old 09-26-2007, 02:04 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Wow. My new BB 8320 has a Map application from RIM that's a huge improvement. I've edited the review. Google Maps is now my second choice!

rjk, sorry for the very late response. Oops.

1) You can make a call while using GPS, but you'll lose data connectivity and so you won't be able to load maps as you move.

2) GPS functionality is available from pole to pole.

3) You'll still get location data from the GPS satellites, but without data coverage, you won't be able to load maps.
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Old 09-29-2007, 12:52 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I tried Google maps on my 8820, but it did not pick up my location via GPS. I then downloaded BB Maps and it works fine with the internal GPS. If I open BB Maps first and then Google maps, the GPS will work on Google maps.

My question is why doesn't Google mapping work with the GPS without the BB Maps application being open?
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Old 12-20-2007, 11:06 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Unhappy More info on Telenav and Blackberry Maps

I found out that Telenav will not work with the AT&T MediaNet data plan. I also found out that the Blackberry Maps app that comes with the Blackberry itself does not work with the AT&T network. I've included the links for both below.


TeleNav GPS Navigator Important Information | AT&T wireless services


http://www.blackberry.com/devicesoft...y.do?code=maps
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Old 12-20-2007, 11:08 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Welcome to the BBForums.

Correct on #1, TN needs BB Data Plan.

But BBMaps will work on the AT&T Network.
How to get BBMaps to show on my Blackberry
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Old 12-20-2007, 03:36 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjk0824 View Post
1) Will I be able to make a call while the GPS is in use ? I had the Verizon version and I could not make a voice call unless I exited out of the GPS software.
Incorrect. You can place a call without exiting. Just hit your send button to take you to the phone app.

Jared
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Old 12-20-2007, 05:03 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Any one tried Wayfinder?

Wayfinder North America - Wayfinder Navigatorâ„¢ 7

It has turn by turn directions, real time traffic, voice, night mode and more.
$100 buck one time cost. A bit high but if it does all it is supposed to a deal.
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