I’ve been using google maps on my PC for a while now. Checking out satellite images of your neighborhood and house is way cool, and getting directions using the google interface is more intuitive than some of the other internet mapping sites. Until recently, I would just print out those directions and take them with me.
But now I’ve discovered Google Maps for the BlackBerry. I installed it OTA from the google site onto my 7100T and took it out for a spin. First I entered the address of my house and soon I was presented with a zoomable map of my neighborhood. It came up suprisingly fast, considering that I was just using a plain old gprs connection. Using the thumbwheel and the ALT key, I could scroll around the map, and just like the PC version, new map sections were downloaded on the fly as I needed them. I could also switch to a satellite image of the area, although I can’t really come up with a compelling reason to do that, other than it’s just kinda cool.
Next I entered a destination and asked for directions. After a brief pause, navigation points were displayed on the map. By pressing a few keys, I could move from point to point, and see what each turn would be. The map followed along nicely with each new move. That’s pretty neat, but it gets better.
One of the most useful features, is the overlay of businesses on the map. I changed my address to the google campus, and then entered a search for “La Bamba”. I was presented with little icons showing where all the nearest restaurants with “La Bamba” in their name were located. (Taqueria La Bamba in Mountain View, CA is a great burrito place by the way.) By selecting a business you can see it’s address. Click again and you get a menu that offers step by step directions to that business. It also has a link to let you automatically place a phone call directly from the map so you can talk to them.
Now imagine you are on a business trip in a city you aren’t familiar with. You’ve got a craving for a Starbucks Iced Mocha. Pull up Google Maps on your BlackBerry, get a map of your location and search for coffee shops. Or McDonalds for a yogurt parfait if that’s more your speed. On the fly, away from a laptop or wifi hotspot, you can find where you want to go, and see how to get there. Maybe it’s late and you’re wondering if they’re still open. Click that thumbwheel and you’re automatically dialing them. What a great way to integrate voice and data in a mobile application. Now that’s cool.
To download Google Maps, visit www.google.com/gmm on your BlackBerry web browser. Supported devices
include: 7100 7105 7130 7230 7250 7280 7290 7510 7520 7730 7750 7780 8700.
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