August, 2009 update: BlackBerry has upgraded its App World to version 1.1, speeding load times, improving search functions, and adding "top free" and "top paid" categories. BlackBerry users may also sort results by most popular, newest, and highest rated. For example, the top GPS application under free apps is Where, which provides "essential information about the places and things around you." The three top rated GPS apps are nRange Golf GPS, WhereRYu (friend locator), and TeleNav GPS Navigator. The new App World also lets you load apps onto a microSD card, and includes a memory status bar. This was a much-needed App World upgrade. From your BlackBerry, visit www.blackberry.com/appworld/download to start the upgrade.
April, 2009 update: BlackBerry has introduced its new BlackBerry App World, including GPS apps.
Here are the system requirements:
-BlackBerry Device Software version 4.2 or higher.
-BlackBerry smartphones with trackballs or SurePress touch screen.
-BlackBerry App World is only available to customers in the US, Canada and UK, and may not be available on all networks.
To use BlackBerry App World, you must have a service plan that includes access to the BlackBerry browser. Here's how to check your operating system from your BlackBerry smartphone:
Click "Options" from your BlackBerry smartphone. Select "About," then click. Your operating system information will be displayed.
I found BlackBerry App World to be easy to download and install on my BlackBerry. When installed, it appears in the "downloads" area of the main menu. Once in the App World, you will see images, summaries, and user reviews of apps. You may search by categories, "top downloads," and a text search box.
Two disadvantages: you'll need a PayPal account to download paid apps. There is currently no other way to pay. Also, apps tend to be priced higher ($9.99 to $19.99+ apps are common) than those in Apple's iPhone App Store.
Research in Motion (RIM) has released its contender in the smartphone touchscreen category, the BlackBerry Storm. Like its established rival, the Apple iPhone 3G, the BlackBerry Storm features a large (3.25-inch diagonal) color touchscreen that automatically switches between vertical and horizontal views. The large screen makes the Storm a better platform for GPS applications than its more business-like BlackBerry predecessors.
The smartphone has GPS built in, of course, and a long list of features (below). The Storm comes with BlackBerry Maps included. The BlackBerry Maps app works much like MapQuest, letting you find destinations by address and points of interest on a map, but does not offer spoken turn-by-turn directions.
Here's more about Blackberry Maps from RIM:
- Interactive maps allow you to easily pan left, right, up and down and zoom in and out while viewing locations and directions.
- Local search – Looking for a cup of coffee? Nearest hospital or post office? Locate your options within a 30-km radius**. Enter a search term like ‘pizza’ to view a list of places to grab a slice.
- Works with other BlackBerry applications — send maps via email and launch maps from other applications, including viewing the home or work address of contacts from your address book on a map.
- Bookmark your favorite locations to keep them handy for future reference.
- Plan your route, displaying it visually on the map with step-by-step instructions.
- Fully optimized for BlackBerry smartphones — provides fast loading times and efficient data usage.
- Maps are drawn dynamically — provides fast map re-draws so you can pan, zoom and rotate maps quickly.
Third-party applications provide additional navigation and location-based services.
Here are more Blackberry Storm GPS apps in alphabetical order.
Allsport GPS: Track your workouts, geocache, use a compass.
Blip: share your location.
Garmin Mobile: High-quality turn-by-turn directions and the familiar Garmin menu system.
TeleNav GPS Navigator: Real-time turn-by-turn navigation.
Read About.com's hands-on Blackberry Storm review here.
Additional Selected Blackberry Storm Features
- wireless e-mail
- 3.2 MP camera
- video recording
- BlackBerry Maps
- media player
- built-in GPS
- corporate data access
- on-screen keyboards, multi-tap and QWERTY
- light-sensing screen
- tethered modem capability