BlackBerry-maker RIM has just promoted its free BlackBerry Traffic app from beta status to a general software release. Now that its available in the BlackBerry App World beginning today, BlackBerry Traffic could threaten competitors like Waze.
BlackBerry Traffic is a driving tool that estimates the real-time distance between you and your destination. The app sources a combination of historical traffic patterns and real-time data taken from other BlackBerry Traffic users in the area. Like competitor Waze, which also crowd-sources its traffic details, BlackBerry Traffic displays travel times, alternate routes, and incident reports. There's a sharing feature so you can send your ETA ahead, using SMS, e-mail, or the BlackBerry PIN. BlackBerry Traffic also adds an element of location-based advertising by offering deals along your route.
Setup is straightforward. You can add your location manually from your address book, and it's easy to search for and add other places using the built-in Bing search engine. Though clear enough to read, the app is rather text-heavy.
There are other reasons it's not quite ready to leave Waze (in beta) or even the Google Maps traffic layer in the dust. Waze, which is completely based on user data, has many more social interaction elements and a much more appealing design. Google Maps' integrated traffic layer may not have as many standalone features, but it's got a more natural fit inside the app.
In addition to a standalone version, we'd also like to see BlackBerry Traffic as an option within BlackBerry Maps, especially when it comes to sharing favorite places between the two. We'd also prefer a failover location-fixing mechanism so you can estimate your ETA before exiting a building that may block your GPS signal.
BlackBerry Traffic is currently available in the U.S. and Canada on GPS-enabled BlackBerry smartphones running OS 4.6 and above. The software is the fruit of a Bay Area-based mapping team that RIM acquired in 2009.
Article updatedat 12:20pm PT with more details.