I have been following with interest these apps and have several of them in my Playbook. I think the size of the Playbook screen is ideal for these apps. The problem I found that all navigation apps rely on network support (wifi or data link) for many if not all features. Here are a couple promising downloadable maps, and by default unaided functionality.
Magellan Compass V.3. by o2 Interactive
I have recently upgraded my Magellan Compass to version 3. In spite of the free trial a was charged for it. But I figured that if it lives up to its promises the $5.99 is a reasonable person price. Well, it is far from a truly on-device navigation app. While you can download 'tiles' of maps, provided by either MapQuest or OpenStreet maps (your choice), you have no idea of the size of the geographic area the tiles cover. In practice you will like run 'off the map. Maps should be downloaded by states, provinces or countries, not by tiles. A large number of features need network access. To be fair the vendor, o2 Interactive mentions that some features need network connection, like searches.
My TomTom does not. Neither does Nokia's free navigation app, (assuming you set the app to run 'unassisted').
Navigator by OBJ Studio
Yesterday I shelled out $6.99 for the "Navigator" a converted Android app, available on BlackBerry Appworld. It also promises to be a truly on-device navigation app. It supports downloadable maps by US states and Canadian provinces. My problem with this app is that it is stupifiyingly complex. The setup options are mind boggling and have to have a PHD in geography AND computer science to understand the options. It still likes to be connected for some features. Because of the relative complexity I need more time to fully test it. My 75 year old uncle had no trouble to learn how.to operate a TomTom. There is no way on earth he would ever learn the operation of the Navigator.
Here is my advice to all developers trying to write a navigation app for a phone/tablet.
1. Get yourself a dedicated GPS unit, maybe you can borrow your mom's. (I will loan you mine!) And see what is expected from a navigation app.
2. Find a good map, bowabout OpenStreet Map, and POI source.
3. And Keep It Simple Stuped – KISS principle.
4. Do a market research, check out the competition (dedicated navigation devices) both their functions and prices. Make the Playbook a TomTom killer. Market your app for say $9.99 with home country map (break it down by state, province et.) included. Offer other downloadable maps for say $1.99 each.
5. Make online update of the maps and POIs simple.
From all the navigation and map apps I have seen my favorite is still NavDroyd. It allows you to download maps (uses OpenStreet Map) by country and you never will need a paper map ever again. It is not a navigation aid, you can't plan a trip, find a bar, etc., but it does what it advertises and does it well. Oh I forgot, it is free!
Update to my previous post.
Once I figured out the app it is quite useful. Easily the best standalone, on-device navigation app to date on the Playbook.
One painful shortcoming is an easy way to set a destination. It is not intuitive at all. There should be a 'Set Destination' button once you pull down from the top bezel. I still could not figure out if you can, and if so how, to set multiple locations on the same trip or how to edit the names of my own Favorites. It is just a pain to figure out these details. A good User Guide would go a long way to help.
I am using the downloaded map of Ontario/Canada. Maps available for the states of US and provinces of Canada. The developers promise more maps. Right now the only other map available is for the UK.
The bottom line? It is an excellent start, but it has too many bells and whistles. It needs to be simplified.
Update. The latest version of the Navigator is better. At least there is a quite reasonable help file. Once I figured it out, the app worked well in Ireland. It managed to find the B and B we were looking for, when my Nokia Maps could not help.
Also, it was in the news that TomTom has signed some sort of agreement with RIM (and Apple!). It will be interesting to see how RIM will use this relationship.
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