Picture by Chris Fizik
While some app categories (such as games) offer rather slim pickings on the BlackBerry platform, in the travel field it scores pretty highly. Many of the apps on the list below will be familiar from their web versions and their appearance on our lists for other mobile platforms; all are available for free, though some also offer additional enhancements if you spring for a paid-for version or subscribe to the overall service.
We’ve included web links for each app below. On a BlackBerry device with App World installed (it should be there by default on most newer models), this link will automatically launch App World and let you install the app.
TripIt carries the same feature set across all mobile platforms: the ability to easily assemble an itinerary by forwarding travel documents to an email address, then access it easily and in tidied-up form on your device. The Pro account helps with flight rerouting if things go wrong, but that’s arguably more useful in the hub-centric US market than Australia’s smaller aviation space. The BlackBerry app suffered from occasional bugs when I used it, but it’s a well-regarded choice for many users.
Worldmate offers a similar feature set to TripIt: integrated itineraries for your trip and alerts to remind you of upcoming events, including auto-monitoring of your incoming email to identify travel-related bookings. The premium version adds real-time flight alerts and a directory of contact information. Unlike TripIt, which tends to switch between browser and app, you can sign up for the service directly within the app.
While the Lifehacker US team rates Kayak pretty highly as a fare search app, it isn’t infallible; on a couple of quick searches, I often found that the very cheapest fares for Australian airlines weren’t actually on offer. But even if you ultimately go bargain-hunting elsewhere to shave the last few dollars off the price, Kayak is a great way of getting an idea of what’s on offer. Its Fare Trends charting, showing the price for a given route over a time period, is also a useful planning tool if you’re looking to travel and have some flexibility.
Some of the Virgin Blue BlackBerry app falls into classic mobile app cheat mode, offering nothing more than links to its existing mobile site. It does let you check in for flights and book new ones however, making it a useful resource if you regularly travel on Virgin Blue and its sister airlines.
The interface for this app frankly borders on sadistic — it appears to have been ported from an ancient WAP implementation. However, if you want to quickly check schedules for OneWorld flights (a not uncommon event for Aussie travellers given Qantas’ membership in that scheme), it gets the job done.
Suffering as I do from no sense of direction whatsoever, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve relied on Google Maps to get me to where I need to go. The BlackBerry implementation isn’t a particularly good example of a native app — it feels like a quick port of a version designed for less powerful mobile phones — but it still gets the job done. (Maps doesn’t show up in App World, but if you visit the Google Maps site on your BlackBerry you can download it.)[imgclear]
Poynt makes use of Google’s map data, but combines it with an easy search interface for finding hotels, stores, restaurants and other commercial outlets. That’s not to say you can’t do that with Google’s own app, but Poynt definitely streamlines the process, and can be handy to have on board when you’re in an unfamiliar city and need dinner or a chemist.
Know a crucial BlackBerry travel app that we’ve missed? Tell us in the comments.
Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman does not make any trips without his BlackBerry in tow. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.