Great turn by turn instructions overwhelmed with cumbersome design.
If there’s one thing that’s missing on Blackberry phones it’s navigation software. Sure we have a Maps app that works quite well, but it only provides us with directions on how to get to our destination. NavTrack MEA is an app that provides turn by turn voice navigation in a number of languages (unfortunately no Arabic) and is available in the App World for $45 with a 14 day trial. After downloading this it takes about 15 seconds for the app to load, Blackberry Maps takes less than 3. Once loaded you have 5 options to choose from, Navigate To, Social Networks, Map Me, Favorites and New Searches.
‘Social Networks’ connects you to Facebook and submit your location, Favorites contains all the previous places you have saved and New Searches is where you find places you’re looking for. Overall I found the search function pretty handy. It even found those small restaurants that you usually don’t find in Google Maps or other popular Map applications. However, it seems to be very slow in searching for places, even when using the 3G network.
‘Map Me’ shows you your location on the map, but like most other searches, this also takes time to load. Once loaded you can see your location and if you’re on the move, it shows you moving. However, once you reach the edge of the screen the map doesn’t follow you and you have to do another location search.
This brings us to a frustrating part of this app, the map. First of all, it seldom shows any street names or numbers. Secondly you can’t scroll through the map using your finger, you have to use the cursor either with your finger or the navigation pad. Once you reach the edge of the screen and want to go further, the app will have to load that part of the map for you. Other popular map software lets you go through their maps using your finger, NavTrack requires you to load each section of the map.
‘Navigate To’ provides you with turn by turn navigation, but first you have to search or use your favorites.I found the navigation instructions to be quite accurate, however, they do not quote street names, numbers or exits, so you get generic instructions. During navigation you have the choice of night or day, 2D or 3D and you can adjust the volume of the female voice telling you how to get there. If you go off route it will tell you 2 or 3 times before it stops navigating and asks if you want to recalculate your route, you can choose to be asked every time or for it to automatically recalculate.
In conclusion I found the NavTrack interface to be somewhat counter-intuitive with the lack of scrolling, and every menu option having a different interface for setting your start and destination points. The lack of street names, numbers or points of interest on the map and during navigation makes it inferior to other navigation software in that respect. The instructions are pretty accurate and in the ever changing roads of Dubai it seems to have adjusted to those roads very well. I also did not like the reliance on the internet connection, you have to load virtually everything from the maps to the turn by turn instructions and the searches.It would have been good if they had let you load the maps onto your phone and then you might be able to scroll through it properly.
This app could have been great if it had fixed all these basic issues, instead it feels rather inferior to more established maps from Google, Garmin and to some extent even RIM. It feels more of a work in progress than a finished product. As it stands, with the various quirks I have experienced, I can’t recommend this app for the asking price, but I do recommend you try this software for yourself. If you need it buy it, I am sure this app will improve over time and it is the only turn by turn navigation software available for Blackberry, but for me that isn’t a compelling reason to get this, unless it goes on sale.