Putting Navfree for BlackBerry 10 through its paces

Navfree
By James Richardson on 23 Jun 2014 03:50 pm EDT
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Although Navfree has been around on BlackBerry 10 for some time it wasn't until recently that the satellite navigation app was updated to support the BlackBerry Q10 and Q5. As predominantly a Q10 user that was my key to give Navfree a good test.

I'll be honest and say that I'm a big fan of BlackBerry Maps and I use it numerous times a week for getting to locations I'm not familiar with as I volunteer as a Community First Responder with the East of England Ambulance Service. I'm not saying BlackBerry Maps is better that the competition as I know it's not, but for me and the fact that I can just pull out my BlackBerry - key in the postcode - select Maps and off I go is the quickest option I've found after using an iPhone, Android and Windows Phone device.

So can Navfree compete with BlackBerry Maps? Let's take a closer look.

Like the name suggests, the app is free to download. Once you do so you'll be asked which region you are in so you can download that map to your BlackBerry. As the map is stored on your device this ensures that Navfree will be reliable, as it doesn't require a data connection when you are using it - always a bonus if you are travelling in the middle of nowhere.

Once Navfree is open you'll find yourself with the map on-screen. At the very top of the display is a search box and it's here you can start typing, but as you do so a new screen will open giving you options for more than just an address. The options here are Foursquare, Google, POI, Favourites, Recents and Contacts. Once you select a location to navigate to you will return back to the map in 2D with the address you have chosen being displayed in the center of the screen and its distance from you beside it. At the very base of the screen you will see the name of the location you are travelling to and also a car icon. Tap this and the route will be calculated and you're ready to set off.

The map will default to 3D view as you would expect and with auto day and night modes it's rather nice on the eye. If you are using an all-touch BlackBerry you will obviously have more screen real estate, but even on the Q series devices Navfree looks pretty darn sweet.

As well as reliability I have to admit that one of the things that has pushed me to like certain sat nav apps over the years has been the UI along with certain information that is shown on the map. This is one area where Navfree does a beautiful job and there are parts that I much prefer compared to BlackBerry Maps.

At the top of the map display you'll be shown how far until your next turn, its road name, time / distance to address. Within the settings you can alter what information is shown here which is a nice touch.

The majority of the display will be taken up with the map. On the bottom left you will have a speedometer, which is a feature I love to have, although not present with BlackBerry Maps. There is also the ability to have a speed warning alert that will pop up above your speed. Once again, within the settings you can choose to have the speed limit either always displayed or just when you exceed the limit.

On the right side of the map you will have zoom in & out toggles as well as an icon to send you into the menu. Here there are a ton of things that can be accessed and tweaked and the options available massively outweigh those in our native app. Rather than me list them all you can take a quick look at them all on video:

Map Reports are a nice option which is built into Navfree, although I personally don't ever use it. Let's say for example that you come across some road works on your travels and want to share with other users. By using the Map Reports icon at the bottom right of the screen you can jump in and select from various categories to report the delay - a very nice touch. The options here include: Traffic, Police, Accident, Safety Camera, Hazard, Road Works, Weather, Map Error and Closure.

Features include:

  • Complete voice guided navigation

  • Incredibly beautiful HD maps

  • Fast routing - no data connection is required!

  • Missed a turn? No problem…let automatic rerouting get you back on track.

  • Switch to walking mode when you're on foot.

  • Offline and Online address search.

  • Simple POI search within Navfree, or use Foursquare for an extensive list.

  • Navigate via Postcode, city, street or POI. What's here?

  • Integrated Google street view

Up until this point all has been well with Navfree, but I have found one area where there seems to be issues and this is if you deviate from the route. When doing so I found that the app took quite a while to calculate a new route or on some occasions it didn't do so at all, which was quite frustrating. Apart from that though, everything else seems to be pretty much spot on.

I've become quite fond of Navfree due to it having more options than BlackBerry Maps. Will I be using it as my mapping app of choice? I'm afraid the answer is no - at the moment. The main reason is that I just love the way that BlackBerry Maps is integrated into the search options in BlackBerry 10. I can just whip out my BlackBerry, type in where I want to go, select 'Maps' and I'm off. This is just my decision though and I'd highly recommend you trying Navfree, as you may well prefer it. I wonder if BlackBerry has any plans in the future to make the native mapping app a bit more in-depth?

More information/Download Navfree

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Putting Navfree for BlackBerry 10 through its paces

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I've basically replaced everything with NavFree. Way more useful features and quicker than Maps, Waze, Osmand, it does take quite a bit of space depending on your maps.

not sure why everyone thinks waze is actually a good gps...

maybe the apk is alright but the one in BBworld is awful

I agree. After time WAZE gets horrible.

NAV free is a combination of Google maps/ waze/ bb maps and it works Damn good.

The dev also stated that he is working on the option to save offline maps to SD card.

Rogers Deals and Discounts C0022C8F2

there is premium in app purchases, no ads and no data (I download the maps on wifi at home)

I really don't get how they make money off there few in app purchases.

They get their maps from Openstreet which is a free resource.

I'll make a thread on it in a sec and update this post

Yes better then Waze, I can't navigate from my home in NL to France, only 500km, it will tell me no route found. With Navfree I can navigate from my home to Italy, 1100km and no problems.

waze always takes me the wrong way in a fair size north american city where map apps seem to be amazing. Waze is actually the only map app I have ever had problems with.
Note: I don't use many map apps since I have a garmin gps handy.

Waterloo, Canada

Ever used Waze? The one from snap?
If you have, how well does it compare?
BlackBerry maps has been horrible for me in Texas but waze has been all aces in my book, better than google maps 8.1...thoughts?

I agree the native maps is horrible in Texas ex. I live in Dallas I put in best buy and It gave me directions to San Antonio..lol.. not cool.

Z10

I use Waze all the time. I have no issues with native maps really just more options in Waze. Really like that app! Never tried this one yet but just downloaded and will give it a go.

...we are all connected...

That would be a deal breaker for me.

Looks great, but I can't spare any device storage :(

Down to just over 1.5 gigs left as it is :(

Posted via CB10

I use BlackBerry maps when not roaming. When out of country, I use Navigator (side loaded Android app). Decent UI and functionality. Downloaded maps can be stored on SD card.

Posted via CB10 on my Z10.

Have been using Mireo Don't Panic which has worked very well for me. I have a small data plan so the on-board maps are a must.

Posted via CB10

They need to add copy and paste function. Their search is not very friendly currently.

Using Z10, wanting Z30, eyeing Windermere

+1 for Don't panic. The only problem I have with it is it's pretty heavy on battery use so if you're going any great distance, it's best to have it plugged in to a charger while driving.

Have used it. Works well, but sometimes have to double tap because the touch of on screen buttons on the map doesn't always register.

Frosty White Q10/10.2.1.3175 CB10'n

Used waze, not that impressed.. stayed with native BlackBerry maps. Maybe I'll give this a shot.. I did download it when it was on the carousel a while back in BlackBerry World

Via My z10 and CB10

I preffer osmand beacuse I can put the maps on sdcard. For navfree I didn't get how you center back the map to your location if you moved it a bit.

Posted via CB10

I tried using this on my recent trip to the states, download maps - Check. However the app just refused to work without a data connection. When I had data i could search addresses and navigate but when I didn't it just said location can't be found and at times didnt even find me in my current location. May try it again.

but this app advertises that it will work without data. Maps are downloaded on the device and stores locally.

It even mentions it in the post.

that "dude" must be on crack because it works fully without data just like mireo.

the only reason it would use data if you turn the "traffic" on

I've used it in the U.S. without even having mobile network on since I live in canada and those roaming charges aren't cheap.

No data connection needed with Mireo Don't Panic, everything is stored on the SD card, you can search addresses without data connection.

Posted via CB10

I'll stick with BlackBerry maps... at the last update my voice is now 1/2 default and 1/2 English!!? lol!!

Posted via Z10/ CB10

BlackBerry maps doesn't work at all, even on Wifi or 4g. It takes forever to load.....so BlackBerry maps is the last app I would use to navigate. i deleted of my phone as it doesn't work.

Posted via CB10

I have it on my Z10, works very well as long as you have location switched on and can get a GPS signal. I can recommend it.

Posted via CB10

this is a bad app. I don't like the interface AND....it's now telling me to make an illegal U-turn. Plus I've found that the purple navigation line that you are suppose to follow, has gaps or sections missing.

I use M8 on my Z10, which is the only free satnav with live traffic updates I've found in the UK ie it reroutes you around accidents, roadworks etc.

Posted via CB10

Mixed results here. I've used Navfree on an Android device and been blown away with it.
The layout is fantastic. It displays brilliantly on the q10, and doesn't destroy the battery.

When it comes to navigating round Edinburgh, unfortunately, it all went pair shaped. I decided to test it out on a two mile route I knew well. By the time I had completed four miles, with no idea where it was still sending me, I switched it off and gave up.

I've never had any problems with navfree before, maybe it was just a local routing issue. I'd certainly recommend that you try it for yourself, and I have to congratulate the developers for giving it us for free (and, even better, not plaguing us with ads or buying options).

One other thing - it took two attempts to install the maps correctly.

Posted via CB10

I like Navfree for the fact that I don't have a lot of mobile data to use and I would rather use it up searching things on the map then updating the picture of the map itself. I know it isn't much, but using any other GPS uses about 20-30MB on a short trip. That adds up quick for me. Navfree also offers really good search for business' and you can also add to the community like you would with Waze. I think I'm going to stick with Navfree for now. It has not let me down yet. Using 722MB of my internal storage is worth it to me. If I had a better data plan I may have stuck it out with Waze and never discovered this app.

Navfree only has 17 million users but... Waze has over 40 Million users. I have been using Waze for while and it is one of the best app I have ever used that works to the point! Plus I like the community on it. Everyone is always keeping you up to date with everything that happens in the road. That why I use it every!!! Day..

Posted via CB10

To answer a question James Richardson asks - I'd love to see BlackBerry Maps offering more navigation features - offline maps would be brilliant - but fully appreciate anything is possible... so long as there's big development budgets.
The most useful mapping tool I've ever used was Nokia maps on the now ancient and forgotten Nokia e71. That used to get me places where my TomTom would give up and drop me off in a field. Wouldn't be great if BlackBerry and Nokia / Windows could thrash something out where, er, Nokia gave BlackBerry their mapping client for free?

Posted via CB10

I have Mireo and BeMaps as backups to my main map app, which is BlackBerry Maps. I am surprised at the number of people that have had a problem with BlackBerry Maps. For me (in Dallas and traveling locally as well as cross country), BlackBerry Maps has been a solid app with few errors. It is not forgiving - if you misspell the name or address you are trying to reach, it'll come up with some weird stuff - but if I type the name or address correctly, it works very well. I can't remember having to resort to either one of my backup apps, but I may have and have forgotten it.

Navfree looks cool, but I'm already covered.

Posted via CB10

My personal experience has been not so good. I've used this extensively in Houston, TX area so far.

First the positives: Great UI, great map, love the speed limits/your actual speed on the road. This thing is spot on. POI is good enough, don't have the latest new store openings or anything, but good enough to actually use.

Now, the negatives: Well, as an navigational app, you would think it should get you to the destination spot on or at least one or 2 house/builds over. Well, on one incident, it got me to the right street, but made me go opposite directions from the where I had to go. I noticed it only because I looked at the building numbers and was going to wrong direction.

No matter what I do, it will not allow me to enter my own house address. I can enter street name, which it finds, but won't let me add the street number (I don't live in new development). This happened with my friends' addresses as well...so if you happen to live on a street that goes forever, how are you suppose to get to your correct destination if it won't allow for the street number?

It also needs simple end navigation button on the bottom. Simple things like copy and paste might be helpful as well. Didn't let me do that either for some reason.

I might delete the app, re-download and give it a try again. Maybe download didn't go right the first time. But, if it can't find few addresses I enter, I will just use Waze.

I've just installed M8, after hearing it's got speed camera sensors on, I can't wait to find out if it works.

The reason I've installed this, is for the same reason I mentioned above, as I did not understand what was meant by "Safety Camera" if this is what a speed camera is called elsewhere, please forgive me, I'll have to check out NavFree a next time.

jtvberry

I'd definitely give it a whirl if I was able to save the map content to my SD card.. right now almost zero space on my devuce

Posted via CB10

Has anyone tried Wisepilot? I find it very good - it has always got me to my destination and never let me down.

Posted via CB10

I have a small FUP limit so offline maps is a must.plus i come from symbian with nokia maps which is a brilliant app. BlackBerry maps are totally useless in europe plus its online. Recently downloaded navfree and so far so good.havent tested it much though

Posted via CB10

I'm always very suspicious of free apps. Like, what's the catch?

Can someone enlighten me on why this is free?

Works ok. I'll leave it on my phone. Seldom use this type if app but will leave home address on it in case I'm lost somewhere. At least it will get me to a familiar area. Lol

Posted via CB10

I'm gonna try it out this week. But in the past year I've read bunches of posts by different people that have used the maps app on the last generation of Nokia phones and say it's the best GPS/navigation app and maps are downloadable to an SD card so it's available offline and so on...people talk about finding POIs, back streets and all sorts of cool things in at least 5 continents. I wonder if it's true that Mireo Don't Panic uses the same map data or is it another nav app that I read about somewhere else.

BlackBerry, y u no use Nokia map app??

Posted via CB10

Just installed it, will try it tomorrow. Have a limited data plan so the pre installed maps are really good for me.

Posted via CB10

I used it for a while. Loved the layout and functionality except that I found the travel time was very inconsistent.. it would tell me I had 20 minutes travel time but it would take 40-45.. very frustrating..

Posted via CB10 using my Zed30 check out my channel @ C00121C1B

I'm disappointed with Navfree. Downloaded and installed. First two addresses app said didn't exist.

Crackberry Genius on Verizon STL100-4 10.3.0.296/442

I used Navfree recently while driving through Italy. I was in france for a holiday and had to go to Italy for work for a day. Naturally my french aim card does not having roaming. But i downloaded the Italian maps off the hotel wifi the previous night.
It was pretty good. In fact it got some addresses right in italy which Google maps had gotten wrong!. This also happened in France.
However the search function is pathetic. It was a lot of work trying to find charles de gaulle airport on the way out. Gave up and used blackberry maps for that.
Google maps has a tendency to lose gps on the z10 stl-001 for some unknown reason.

Posted via CB10

Unfortunately Blackberry maps does a very poor job here in Sweden. This is an area where Blackberry needs to put in real effort.

Yeah Eagle S

WisePilot good, though you have to pay for each part, navigate, speed camera, road works, but it works great also extras.

I've seen you get stand only maps, but you do have a premium for those extras on NavFree, road works, divert and speed camera.

jtvberry

Downloading right now, I'll at least test it out. I must be in the minority who doesn't have any issues with BlackBerry maps.

 OS 10.2.1.2122/STL 100-4/Verizon Z10

BB 10 Maps doesn't work well in KSA thus I recently installed Navfree, it worked fine in my 1st testing but I noticed it doesn't give alternative routes in advance, is this the case or I couldn't find this feature?

Can anyone help? I am from India. I have downloaded maps and it says carriageway not available. What to do? How to use the map

Posted via CB10

I'm totally happy with BlackBerry Maps. It would be nice to have satellite images available, but IMO it's not a deal breaker. The voice guidance works extremely well for me and that's all I really need on a phone.
If I want big fancy pics and street views, I want my 23" monitor along with that - not a tiny phone.

Posted via CB10

I paid for and use Mireo Don't Panic daily with almost no issues. Uses Tom Tom maps and stores them on the SD card. You get what you pay for.

i love waze, iuse it on my Q10 in the usa and it works very well prob even better the BB maps, BBmaps takes very long to find my location, waze also has traffic, police, roadwork etc, and it has saved me from a few tickets as well :)

Navfree has SERIOUS problems in the US -- like the inability to search its database outside of your current STATE, since the maps are state-specific. So if you're in Florida and want to go somewhere in Alabama, you can't get a fix on it via the internal maps until you cross into Alabama.

If you search on Google it will work, but not off its internal data.

Further, it has repeatedly returned ridiculously wrong routes for me in a number of situations, and a big part of this appears to be that it assumes all non-freeway roads have impossibly low speed limits.

I bought Mireo's Don't Panic and while I don't like its syntax for entering addresses to go to it works. NavFree would be nice if it didn't have these problems, but it does and they make the app unusable in a number of cases; in an area you're not familiar with you will find this out the hard way!

Finally, it has no option to store the maps on the SD card. DUMB!

Sorry, this "review" is so ridiculously biased as to call into question whether reading these "reviews" is worth my time in the future.

Waze, BB maps, Google, all depend on cellular reception for data exchange and access to the map on a server. Network connection or "on line" as some call it. If you are in or moving through areas without cell service, these apps will drop off line. Apps like, Mireo, Navfree, Wisepilot have the map stored on the device (off line) and use standalone GPS reception to navigate with or without the cell service. The latter are more reliable and and can be used off road, in the air, or at sea. Hence they usually cost money and are used for more than just driving. Comparison of "on line" versus "off line" apps doesn't quite make sense.

Test driving this, and must say that so far, with all GPS units and phone softwarr I have ever used, this may over-all be the best.

Dumbfounded that it is free.

Brilliant!

Edit: of course, this is with my own personal use requirements in mind. Others that roam, etc. Have had difficulties with some functions.

I have used it and I think it is probably the best free BB navigation app with offline maps.

Posted via CB10

1st address I looked for in Waterloo Ontario is not recognized. Also my street has wrong name...

Posted via CB10

Hello! How do I download multiple country maps? I have only downloaded my native country, but in a few days I will be driving through 3-4 countries. After I downloaded my native country map, I opened the app, but still could not figure out how to download the remaining three country maps I will be driving through to my destination.
Thank you.