BlackBerry users seeking full-featured, GPS-based navigation applications with spoken turn-by-turn directions really don't have too many options. BlackBerry Maps, the default navigation app that ships with all new BlackBerry devices, offers maps and directions, as does Google Maps, along with some additional functionality.
MapQuest Navigator 5.0, powered by Telmap, does the trick in a jam. VZ Navigator, available only to Verizon Wireless subscribers, is also a viable option. But if you seek the best of the best, TeleNav Navigator's the BlackBerry app for you.
TeleNav's mobile GPS apps goes by many names; it's AT&T Navigator for AT&T customers; Sprint Navigation to that carrier's users; and plain ol' TeleNav Navigator to the rest of the world. It costs US$9.99 per month after a free 30-day trial; that's very similar to the pricing of the additional navigation services with spoken directions. The various "flavors" of TeleNav are also available on a daily basis for $2.99 per 24-hour period. MapQuest Navigator is currently listed for $49.99 a year on most U.S. carriers; both BlackBerry Maps and Google Maps are free, but they offer no advanced functionality, such as spoken, turn-by-turn directions.
The TeleNav service works on most BlackBerry devices, including all the latest models, as well as a variety of additional smartphones, such as the T-Mobile G1. And TeleNav Executive Director Hassan Wahla tells me an iPhone version is coming "very soon." (BlackBerry owners without GPS-enabled devices require an external GPS puck to employ TeleNav.)
TeleNav for BlackBerry: Directions from Calendar, Meeting Invites and E-Mail
How do you get from here to there with TeleNav? None of the options prove difficult. You'll find three common ways to enter a new address: 1) type an address on your BlackBerry; 2) speak an address and TeleNav will record it; and 3) create a MyTeleNav account on the company's website and send addresses to your device from a PC. (You can also employ the TeleNav browser plugin. More on that coming up.) From there, you simply hit the Get Directions button and you're on your way.
But alternative methods for entering destination addresses can save you time and effort. For example, you can launch TeleNav directly from an e-mail, your address book, calendar or even a meeting invite, all with just a couple of clicks.
To drive to an address within a calendar appointment, simply launch your calendar app, navigate to the meeting/event/etc. and then hit your BlackBerry Menu key. From the menu options, select Drive To. Next, you may be prompted to choose the address you desire from a list of possible destinations. Choose the correct one and that's it.
Getting directions directly from an e-mail message or address book entry works in much the same way. Simply scroll over the address to which you wish to travel, within your address book or a message, hit your BlackBerry Menu key, and again pick Drive To.
In fact, you can follow these steps to get driving directions within a variety of different applications; if there's an address listed, open your BlackBerry menu and see if there's a Drive To option.
TeleNav Browser Plugin for Internet Explorer and Firefox
For another convenient way to add addresses to TeleNav Navigator, try the TeleNav Browser Plugin for Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Firefox. The plugin, which can be downloaded from TeleNav's site, lets you highlight an address on a Web page and add it directly to your TeleNav account via PC so it can be synced with your device for future use. You just highlight the address and click the TeleNav button in your browser's toolbar.
My experience with the browser plugin has been a mixed bag; sometimes the addresses I add via PC take a long time to show up in MyTeleNav, sometimes they don't show up at all. But when the plugin works, it works well; every time an address made its way to MyTeleNav using the browser plugin, I had no issues syncing it to my device and finding my desired location.
Note: you need to login to your MyTeleNav page to use the browser plugin.
(For more on TeleNav's enterprise-oriented offerings, read "TeleNav Track: GPS Tracking Service Gets Valuable Makeover."
This story, "Turn Your BlackBerry Into a Portable GPS" was originally published by CIO.