If you’re a regular traveller, and particularly if you use your car for business, a dedicated satellite navigation device makes a lot of sense. But for those whose navigational needs are very occasional, carrying around a separate piece of technology seems like a hassle, particularly when you’ve already got a powerful multipurpose device in your pocket in the shape of your smartphone. So it’s no surprise that over the last year or so, sat-nav software for smartphones has become an increasing focus. Android handsets have Google Maps Navigation, and Nokia’s Ovi Maps lets you navigate in a large part of the world as part of your mobile phone contract. If you’re a Blackberry user, however, there’s a potentially potent alternative called Telmap.
We’ve seen Telmap develop in the right direction since version 3, but the latest iteration promises even more services. On first loading Telmap5, you’re presented with a 2D map of your current location. Pressing the Blackberry menu button then gets you started with the navigation process.
You can search for a destination by postcode or address in a reassuringly freeform way, with either being entered via the same dialogue. Input a postcode, and all the addresses listed for that postcode will be displayed, including company names. So you can choose the house number or business you want to go to easily from the results. In the case of a business, you may even be provided with a phone number, so you can call ahead to say you’re on your way. In the same information screen, you’re given the option to find parking, petrol and ATMs near the destination. Once you’ve found a few locations, the My Places option lets you browse the most recent discoveries, so you can quickly recall them for navigation.
With your destination set, Telmap5 provides a relatively familiar navigational experience. The map is shown in quasi-3D, and along the top a panel describes your next turning, including a graphic illustrating which lanes to be in at a multi-carriageway junction. There’s no full-screen display with realistic signposting here, but the graphic will be sufficient to guide you through most turnings.
Telmap5 even displays speed camera locations, and a warning sound indicates their proximity even when you’re well within the limit, just in case. Most impressive of all, TMC-based traffic information is provided, with warnings of jams on your route popping up at the top of the screen. You can also drill down for a more detailed description of traffic events.
None of this is particularly revolutionary. But Telmap5 does have one feature which is a little different to other sat-navs, with both good and bad implications. During navigation, pressing the Blackberry menu button allows you to call up the Widgets carousel, which you can then rotate to find the desired option. Some of the Widgets add onscreen elements. For example, Route Information lets you know how much time and distance is left in your journey, and Phone Information displays battery life and GPS status. The Weather option shows the forecast for your current location. The downside is that you can only have one of these Widgets onscreen at a time. So you can’t have both Route and Phone Information visible simultaneously. Perhaps the most unusual Widget of all is the one which calls up Twitter postings for your current location, and allows you to post your own.