David R. Heffelfinger

  Ensode Technology, LLC

 
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BlackBerry Bold, Google Maps and GPS


One of the main reasons I upgraded my old BlackBerry device to a BlackBerry bold is because the Bold has GPS. AT&T Navigator is the default GPS application that comes with the device. Although I haven't actually tried it, it seems like a nice application, with turn by turn directions and automatic rerouting. AT&T Navigator comes with a 30 day free trial, after that it adds $10 a month to the cell phone bill.

Although I drive in unfamiliar territory frequently enough that a GPS can be useful, it is not frequently enough to justify the extra $10 a month on the bill. Thankfully there is an alternative. mobile Google Maps on the BlackBerry can take advantage of the device's GPS functionality.

Yesterday I had to make a 50 mile trip, although the trip was on familiar territory, I decided to try out the GPS functionality of the BlackBerry and Google Maps.

One nice thing about Google Maps is that it can provide directions from your current location to wherever you are going. Therefore if hopelessly lost it can find your way for you. Directions "from" and "to" can be entered, or the current location can be used as the starting point.

Once "from" and "to" addresses have been entered, Google Maps will highlight the route in the map, showing clearly where turns need to be made. Where the GPS comes into place, a blue dot will be shown in your current location, therefore you know at all times where you are in the map.

Pressing "I" on the BlackBerry Bold's keyboard will zoom in the map, where "O" will zoom out. I found that the default zoom is sometimes too zoomed in, letting you know about an exit about two seconds before you need to take it. The ability to easily zoom out was very useful. The disadvantage of zooming out is that the street names may become unreadable.

The Google Maps help states that the number "6" needs to be pressed to see the next turn, and the number "4" needs to be pressed to see the previous turn. I thought this would be cumbersome since on the BlackBerry the "alt" key needs to be pressed to punch in numbers. Thankfully it is not necessary to do press "alt" to get the previous and next turns, simply pressing "S" (which with "alt" is the number 4) and "F" (which with "alt" is the number 6) takes you to the previous/next turn, respectively.

Pressing "0" will take you to your current location in the map.

If using the GPS frequently enough, it may be a good idea to invest in a car charger, as leaving the screen on for a long time to look at the GPS takes a toll on the battery.

Although I wish Google Maps would provide spoken turn by turn directions, it really isn't a bad application for those times when GPS functionality is needed, and the price certainly cannot be beat.

 
 
 
 
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