One integral part of blackberry smart phones that I use quite often is the GPS feature. However, finding the right navigation application has always been a challenge. The built in Blackberry Maps might suffice for some but for me that wasn't enough. Blackberry Maps doesn't have turn-by-turn, voice guided directions, which is actually missing on all those free GPS applications like Google maps. Then there are the many paid GPS navigation applications like Telmap Navigator and Garmin Mobile that do offer features similar to standalone GPS units. One of those is my now favorite TeleNav GPS Navigator. After using Garmin for so long, I have decided in the last week to try out TeleNav Navigator to see what all the hype was about. With features like full voice guided navigation, automatic rerouting and voice recognition search, it's easy to understand why it's Crackberry's choice as the best GPS navigation program for 2009. Let's take a look at some of the key features in-depth to see why.
This is a pretty obvious advantage but Telenav has all the features of a regular GPS device without the big bulkiness of needing an extra device, meaning now you have everything all in one device. Also, the mobility feature of any blackberry allows you take it anywhere with you in pedestrian mode, if you ever get lost while you're out for a walk.
After installing the application, there isn't a problem with getting the hang of things or finding out all the features. An initial popup gives you the option to run through a brief tour of the features. This can be brought up at anytime in the options menu. Overall, the menus are not complicated and are very easy to understand. Navigation through the actual application is also pretty straight forward. You can use the trackball/trackpad to scroll up and down and push down on it to select the option OR you can just scroll left and right to go back and forth.
This is definitely the coolest and most convenient feature of TeleNav. All navigation programs have the ability to search for points of interest or certain addressees by typing them in on your keypad. However, with TeleNav, you can use the speak it feature to actually dictate street and business names. You can even set it up to recognize your voice through your Bluetooth headset. However, like most applications that use voice recognition, it's not always perfect but I was surprised that it did recognize some of the street names I said. The voice recognition is done by Nuance, who arguably has the best voice recognition system, so it does very well. If you would rather type it in, that feature is still selectable using the bb button and features autosuggestion/autocomplete.
Now let's talk about the results you get when you do a search. TeleNav allows you to sort the results, either by proximity, relevance, or my personal favorite, by star rating. The star rating system allows you to find the most popular restaurants and coffee houses near your location if you're feeling adventurous. You can also read reviews before making your decision or even map all the results to see what's more convenient along your route. Need to make a reservation or have any questions about the chosen restaurant? Straight from TeleNav, you can call up the location without leaving the application.
The way the POIs are divided up here is very thorough. Through the use of categories, you can search for Banks and ATMs, movie theatres, hospitals, wifi hotspots and the list really does go on. There is even a feature available for some regions where you can search for nearby gas stations by price, where it will sort nearby gas stations with the lowest gas price to the highest. If you're on a long road trip and need to stop at a diner while you're on your way to your destination, you can search for one along your route without interrupting the flow of your trip. You can then continue your originally planned route.
The main application I use to find the local hotspots is Poynt. I was actually surprised at how well it integrated with TeleNav. You can setup Poynt to map directions of a result in TeleNav. It will then automatically open up TeleNav and automatically start giving you turn by turn directions towards the destination. This is a killer combo for sure; just because Poynt has a better review system through partners such as OpenTable.Com for restaurants than TeleNav has, since the ratings are only from TeleNav subscribers.
Now let's get down to the main part of this review, the Navigation mode. Just like any regular GPS Standalone unit, the interface is pretty much similar: you have your time that you're going to get there, the distance, and the directional arrows pointing you in the right direction. You can view it in 3d or 2d mode, or even 3d mode with 2d mode during turns.
What I like about this specifically compared to a lot of other GPS applications is that it actually shows the street names that intersect with your current path, so you don't make the wrong turns. It's a voice guided system as well, which you can repeat by pressing the space button and it actually says the street names out loud. Rerouting is quick and automatic so if you missed a turn, you don't have to worry. Also, you can go into the route overview and u can opt to skip certain streets or highways. You can even record your current location as one of your favorites for access later on, so you don't have to keep typing the address in every time.
Here you can find great integration of your blackberry address list so you don't have to re-add your contacts in to the application manually. It also filters only the contacts that have an address on file so you don't have to go through a list of useless contacts you don't have addresses for. Just select your contact and TeleNav automatically starts navigating.
Pricing is set through your carrier, as it is a monthly subscription of 10$ (varies from carrier to carrier). Just to break down the cost, a mid range standalone GPS navigator retails for $350, while it would take 35 months or 1 month shy of 3 years to equal that amount if you opt for TeleNav's subscription. Plus you get automatic updates, the latest version, with the latest technology, and updated maps automatically. The subscription also follows you to move to any device when you switch devices, so no need to buy the app again. However, I can definitely see this would be subjective to who was actually buying this application and their navigational needs.
TeleNav is definitely the must have, best GPS navigational application out for the blackberry devices currently. With voice guided turn-by-turn directions and voice recognition for searching points of interest and addresses, this application will definitely get you to your destination in no time at all.
** This review was written as part of the CrackBerry Idol 2010 competition. Click for details. **