I have written a few times about the situation with the integrated GPS and the Verizon BlackBerry 8830. Originally Verizon released the 8830 with the GPS totally disabled and a brouhaha ensued, naturally. Then Verizon stated to me that in November the GPS would be enabled with a firmware upgrade and would work with "some" third party applications and not just their own VZ Navigator service which costs $10 per month. Last week Verizon quietly released a firmware upgrade for the 8830 which claimed to enable the GPS for the VZ Navigator system. I installed the upgrade along with the VZ Navigator application and had the service activated.
The service still wouldn’t work and it wasn’t until yesterday that I had time to contact Verizon to make sure the VZ Navigator service was provisioned for my phone. I spent a half hour on the phone with a very nice tech support rep, Christine, and I am happy to report that the VZ Navigator service is now working fine on the 8830 and as near as I can tell is using the integrated GPS just fine. Some folks have told me that they think the VZ Navigator service is using cell towers to triangulate their position instead of the GPS but I believe mine is using the GPS OK. What we ended up doing was removing the VZ Navigator app I had installed last week and redownloading and installing it. Apparently they had a problem with the older version and it was fixed in the one currently available. This would be a happy ending except for the testing I have done with third party apps that use a GPS.
The first application I tested seriously after making sure the GPS was working was the TeleNav service. I had activated it last week to test it and last night I tried diligently to get it to work. I had no success as I get an error as soon as the program tries to access the GPS that indicates it is a "weak signal". According to the TeleNav support web site this usually means that the program cannot connect to the GPS. Nothing I did could get this to work which probably means that the Verizon update still has the GPS disabled for use with TeleNav. Maybe other programs would be able to use it.
The next application I tested, and the one I really wanted to get working since it’s preinstalled on the 8830 and is free, is the BlackBerry Maps program. It’s a full-feature navigation package that is installed as part of the RIM BlackBerry system and if any program should be able to work with the integrated GPS it would be BlackBerry’s own program. Nope. The Maps program still does not provide using the GPS as an option even after the Verizon upgrade which means that Verizon did not enable the Maps program to work on their network. What a major bummer!
I then tried to get Google Maps to work with the GPS but I get the same "weak signal" error message when it tries to access the GPS. The new Google Maps for Mobiles that uses tower triangulation for location is a great thing and will work fine on the 8830 but it’s a shame that the program cannot use a GPS that is sitting right in the phone. This sucks quite frankly and I am batting 0 for 3 in the third party app department after the upgrade. I haven’t found a single program that will work so it appears to me that the Verizon firmware upgrade to enable the GPS only enables it for their own VZ Navigator service. This is exactly opposite what I was told by Verizon and I am extremely disappointed to find myself in this situation. I will try to get clarification from Verizon as to which third party apps the 8830 can use with the GPS.