BlackBerry Traffic might come off as yet another day-late and dollar-short move by BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion Ltd., but it can’t be slighted too much in terms of functionality and overall user experience. It may not have voice-guided directions, but for the price you can’t expect such luxuries. As I would expect from RIM, this app highlights just how smooth and well designed a BlackBerry app can be.
The layout of the app is typical stripped-down maps and traffic fare with a BlackBerry twist. There are a series of panels that indicate all of the pertinent data in various layouts, which makes it easier to customize your experience and focus on driving. My favorite panel lays out a horizontal color-coded line that represents how long each segment of the trip is and where traffic is at its worst. Running horizontally along the bottom a user can also search, find places and share automated updates about their trip with contacts that are integrated nicely with the app. The search field is a bit too cumbersome, but I haven’t once had trouble finding what I’m looking for. I recently tested out BlackBerry Traffic on an evening jaunt to Hollywood, Calif. and traffic was even more brutal than normal. Throughout the trip, the app updated my estimated time arrival and provided accurate information about my speed. The battery also didn’t seem to take as much of a hit as I’ve seen with other apps. But as is often the case, my initial estimated time of arrival was off by at least 30 minutes. Maps and traffic in particular are still two of the most obvious applications for mobile. The leaps that have been made in this market are noteworthy, but because traffic is so inherently unpredictable there seems to always been a need or desire for something more. It’s a conclusion I continue to make based on my experience with traffic and the various solutions like BlackBerry Traffic that have come along to help me combat gridlock and find my way.