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.
- 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
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
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.
- 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.
- User experience not as "slick" as Google Maps.
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.
- 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)
- 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.