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Google Maps 4 Blackberry

November 10, 2008

BlackBerry Curve 8310, originally uploaded by san1966.

Now I (N.) realize that not everyone has a Blackberry or GPS enabled phone but most business travelers probably do. Since we carry it and most of us don’t pay for it I say we get the most possible use out of it!

I love being able to send and recieve emails, texts and phone calls. I also use it in conjunction with Outlook Calendar to avoid carrying a day planner. In a pinch I’ll use it as a camera and although I don’t use this function my blackberry is also a music device. Sorry but I still love my IPOD for jamming. The one function I haven’t tried out was Blackberry Maps. In order to use it you have to pay a monthly usage fee that isn’t covered by my company. My company is large enough that I could probably add it and get away with it or talk my boss (who is incredibly easy going) to let me expense it but I’d rather not. Times are tight and I value my job more then a phone feature.

So I was very excited to hear about Google Mobile which offers Google Maps on devices like Blackberries. I happily downloaded the program but did notice that while the program and usage is free it requires a lot of data transfer. Depending on your cell phone plan you may be limited in the amount of data transfer you can perform before paying overage charges. In fact Google recommends using it only if you have an unlimited data plan. Honestly I don’t know what mine is but I imagine it’s either unlimited or really high plus I’m not going to be using this service for every trip rather it’s a great backup.

It works amazingly! It uses the GPS device in my phone to pinpoint my location. From there it can simply show me a map or give me directions. I don’t even need to know where I am 🙂 as long I know where I’m trying to go. The program feels very familiar because it has most of the same features you would get on your computer- business listings, panning and zooming, satellite view, and on some phones (mine included) you can get a street view. The other cool feature is traffic which I don’t have on my in dash navigation system. Since I travel through major cities it’s always good to know the current traffic situation and be able to navigate around it.

If you aren’t in a car you can use Google Mobile Maps for walking directions and public transit directions. The demo here shows bus stops, costs and times for public transit directions but they say upfront its dependent on that information already being accessible online. I know in Philadelphia you can go to the SEPTA site and put in your start and end location to get a list of all the stops/connections, times, and fees. Using the zoom feature on Google Mobile you can even get up close and personal to make sure you are actually at the right bus stop. That’s key for me since I can get lost so easily.

To me Blackberry Maps and Google Mobile are pretty similiar and while one is techinically “free” the reality is that they are both going to cost you. But it’s worth it to not have to print out directions every time you want to go somewhere. So save a tree and maximize the potential of your current plastic devices.

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