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Location, Location, Location-based Apps for BlackBerry Karishma Sundaram | , noon Nov. 10, 2009 2009-11-10

Apple has them, and so does Android phones. Nokia has packed them tightly into Symbian too, so the only major phone manufacturer who is completely left out of the elite clique is BlackBerry. What are we talking about? Location-based applications for the smart smartphone user. 

All jokes aside, iPhone has more location-based apps that one can possibly imagine. There are apps by Apple themselves and those by third party vendors. There is certainly no dearth of them on that platform. Google’s Android admittedly does not have as many mobile applications as the iPhone, but the operating system is comparatively in its infancy as yet. Also there is Google Maps, and more recently, Google Maps Navigation – certainly nothing to sneeze at. Nokia has made news of late by announcing a promotion of 100,000 navigation licenses being doled out to pedestrians; completely free of charge. 

However BlackBerry, while ahead in the business phone market segment, has a conspicuous lack of location-based mobile applications. Hopefully that will soon change; until then, though, here are the few BlackBerry apps we located:

1. Loopt: Loopt has just upped the stakes with a fabulous app for BlackBerry users. The app provides location-based information like hot events, great restaurant, geo-tagging and many other great titbits besides. One feature which makes this app better than even those on the iPhone is the ability to keep the location of the phone constantly updated in the background, even when the app is not running. This isn’t possible on the iPhone as there is no background processing allowed for third party apps. 

2. Buzzd: A combination of a social networking tool and a city guide, Buzzd uses the cell phone towers to triangulate a user’s position. The information is then used to select appropriate content from a massive database, researched and compiled beforehand, and then sent to the user’s phone. Previously the service was web-based and could be accessed on the mobile through a mobile site. However they’ve recently launched the application as well. 

3. WHERE: A rather simplistic location-based app as they go, WHERE offers advice on restaurants and gas stations, among other things. The interface is uninspired at best, but it offers relevant information when required. 

4. Brightkite: A social networking tool once again, with location-based integration, Brightkite is well designed and convenient for those on the go. It can update to multiple accounts like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, whilst also recommending great hang-out spots. The application also keeps friends clued in to each other’s current whereabouts.

RIM has revealed that they would be looking to introduce more location-based services on their phones. In the support forums for BlackBerry, RIM is looking at optimization – reducing the time is takes to determine location, using less power for the applications, and more along those lines. There are a few ideas for viable location-based services that look beyond the currently available fare. 

It will be interesting to see whether developers will build sophisticated location-based apps for the BlackBerry, or whether RIM may incorporate them in the next versions of the devices.

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