With the proliferation of GPS receivers in mobile phones, it’s hardly surprising to see that the market for decent turn-by-turn software is steadily increasing. TomTom, Copilot and Route66 all offer navigation software for Windows Mobile and Symbian-based handsets now, and they’re all pretty good alternatives to dedicated devices too. Depending on how good your phone’s GPS receiver, screen and speaker are, a phone sat-nav will do the job without the hassle of having to carry around an extra device when you leave the car parked.
However, for that most ubiquitous of email devices, the Blackberry, the choice is surprisingly not as wide. Blackberry Maps and Google Maps can be installed on the devices, but neither boasts turn-by-turn driving instructions. Telmap Navigator, in fact, is the only proper navigation application I’ve tested that extends support to RIM’s handsets as well as the usual collection of Symbian and Windows Mobile-based devices, but in a previous incarnation it failed to convince. With the addition of new features and a few new extras, however, I thought it was time to take another look.
So what has changed? Well, big advances it seems have been kept to a minimum. The views have been added to, and where the previous version was restricted to an overhead 2D map view, you now get a more modern 3D outlook. It’s not just the perspective that has changed, however. In this version, Telmap has removed the cluttering status bars that previously surrounded the map view and the result is a much cleaner, easy to read screen; all you get on screen is current and next road info at the top and the bottom, a small icon in the top right indicating the type of turning that’s approaching, and the occasional status icon to indicate traffic incidents.
Also added is a turn view, which displays an icon of the next turning and nothing else – useful if you find yourself distracted by the moving map view. And the system boasts the same useful features as before: traffic information is included as standard, with information sent over your handset’s GPRS connection. This uses the same data as the TMC-over-FM arrangement you get with many high-end, dedicated sat-navs, but as it’s over GPRS you don’t have the same issues with reception, or an unsightly aerial to drape around the edges of your windscreen.
After a quick cross check with the BBC traffic website, it seemed to be reasonably accurate, though you need to bear in mind that there’s always a limit to how successful this sort of information can be. It can show major incidents and tailbacks, road closures and planned roadworks, but for general traffic congestion, of which there’s plenty of on the UK roads, it’s not particularly useful.
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