You've just gotten off the plane, which arrived late, and hopped into your rental car. Your client is waiting for you at a restaurant across town, and you're going to be late. You need to double-check directions to the restaurant, check traffic to find the best route and contact the client to apologize for the delay to say you'll be there within a certain time.
While it may sound like you need a combination of maps, radio traffic reports and a phone book, you can check it all by using Google Maps on your BlackBerry device. The success of the actual meeting will be up to you.
With Google Maps for BlackBerry, you can enter your airport car rental location and the restaurant's name to get directions and a Google Map, as well as the restaurant's address and phone number. You can check local traffic and get a map that shows how fast you can expect to travel on major routes (currently available for 30 U.S. metropolitan areas) to estimate your time. And if you don't have the client's cell phone number, you can find the restaurant's number on Google, have the client paged and give him or her your approximate arrival time.
Or let's say your plane arrived early in the morning, and you want a cup of your favorite beverage before meeting your client. Is your favorite coffee shop open, and where's the nearest location? Just drop in the brand name or "coffee shop," and Google Maps will show you where to get your java hit and how to get there. Just use the phone number from Google to give the store a quick call to make sure it's open.
But how easy is it to install Google Maps onto your BlackBerry? With which models is it compatible? And how can you take advantage of its features? Let's start with how easy it is to download Google Maps.
Download Google Maps on a BlackBerry
Google Maps for BlackBerry is free, available in more than 20 countries and really easy to install. It's compatible with any BlackBerry model with a color display, starting with model 7120 and including the current BlackBerry Pearl, Curve and 8800 models. You'll also need Internet data service from your mobile provider to be able to access a Google Map and location information.
You can download Google Maps in either of two ways:
1. Go to Google Maps and enter your mobile phone number. Google will send a link to use for downloading.
2. You can also enter www.google.com/gmm on your BlackBerry browser and follow the installation instructions, which will be specific for your type of phone. In fact, Google will do a test first to make sure your BlackBerry model is compatible with Google Maps before trying to go forward with the installation.
Note that while Google Maps software is free, you may incur data charges in using it to access maps. Your mobile service provider can provide more information about specific charges. Many companies offer an unlimited monthly data plan, and that may be the cheapest way to go if you access the Internet frequently from your BlackBerry.
Maybe you'd like to try an interactive demo before you download Google Maps. You can try it out your PC by visiting the Google Maps Web site. You'll be able to search for locations or directions and see search results, maps and satellite images as they would appear on your BlackBerry's screen.
If your company offers the BlackBerry Enterprise edition of Google Maps, you'll be able to use all of its features without downloading directly to your corporate BlackBerry device. Instead, your company's information technology administrator will install the application remotely to your BlackBerry. When the Enterprise edition is updated several times a year, the administrator will send these upgrades directly to your BlackBerry. If you want to know more about installing the Enterprise edition for your company as a whole, visit the Google Maps Web site.
Once you have Google Maps downloaded onto your BlackBerry, you'll want to start using it. Keep reading to find out more about its features.
Features in Google Maps for BlackBerry
With features that include detailed directions, integrated search results, satellite imagery, transit routes and real-time traffic reports, Google Maps for BlackBerry packs a lot of resources beyond just maps into your smartphone. Here's a closer look at the features that Google Maps offers for your BlackBerry:
Find Your Location
Press "0" in Google Maps and you'll see a blue dot showing your exact location on the map, if your BlackBerry has GPS. If it doesn't, you'll see a blue dot surrounded by a light blue circle. This shows your approximate location, based on information related to nearby mobile towers [source: Google].
Find the Nearest (Whatever You Need)
First, move the map to the area you're interested in by panning or using "Move Map" or "Find Location" menu commands. Then select "Find Business" from the menu and enter the type of business you want to find, such as "hotel" or "photocopy center." Google Maps will show the red flags on the map to make the locations of businesses of this type. Click on the flag for the business name, address and telephone number [source: Google].
Try either of these ways to get directions:
- Search for and find your destination on the map. Press its number key a second time to show additional options. Then click "Directions to here" or "Directions from here" and enter the missing start or end address. Press 3 ("Start directions") on the keypad, and you'll see step-by-step directions for your route.
- Select "Directions" from the application menus and enter your start and end addresses, either typing them or choosing them on the map. Then press 3 to see directions for your route.
Get a Clearer Satellite View
Maybe you'd like to see what your neighborhood looks like from a satellite, or maybe seeing actual physical features of a map, like a lakeshore or tennis courts, would clarify driving directions. To get a satellite view in Google Maps, just choose "Satellite" from the application menu. As with the regular maps, you can zoom in for a close look, zoom out or move the map.
Check Traffic Conditions
You can access information on local traffic by pressing 7 on your keypad while you're looking at a map or by selecting "Show Traffic" from the options menu. The route colors show the road condition. Traffic on routes shown as green is moving normally, while vehicles on yellow routes are moving slowly, and those on red routes are bumper to bumper. Information is not available about gray routes.
Comprehensive traffic data is available for more than 30 U.S. metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. Partial traffic information is available for many other cities. If reports are not available, the screen will show the message, "Traffic info is not available in this area."
Google Maps keeps adding features for BlackBerry and other mobile phone users. The newest features allow users to find a route on public transportation in more than 50 cities worldwide. Pick starting and end points, and the transit feature will show you transit options and fares and then guide you through choosing times and stations on your route.
You also can zoom in on various sections of the route map and even convert to satellite view for a better look at where the bus stops. And you can use the transit information to estimate how long the trip will take. To watch a video demo, go to Google.
For more information about Google Maps for BlackBerry and related topics, visit the links on the next page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
More Great Links
- Google. "Using GPS and My Location: Accuracy of location data."http://www.google.com/support/mobile/bin/answer.py?answer=81873&topic=13541
- Google. "Google Maps with My Location."http://www.google.com/mobile/gmm/mylocation/index.html
- Mills, Elinor. "Google Maps for Mobile Adds 'My Location.'" CNet. Nov. 28, 2007. http://news.cnet.com/8301-10784_3-9824546-7.html?tag=dlsearch