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Mini Review: BlackBerry PlayBook USA On-Device GPS Map (Offline Map)

Developer: Skylab Mobilesystems Ltd.
Web Site: AppWorld
Price: $9.99

Skylab recently released a bunch of city and country offline maps for Blackberry Playbook. This was very exciting news, as currently most the map applications require downloading the maps online and caching the trip. However, Skylab seems to be playing marketing games here, as the data is only on device when you browse to a location and cache it online.  So this is really not a real on-device map like many other GPS apps in different platforms (TomTom, Igo, Navigon) where the full map is stored on your device. Those apps will work fine perfectly without any data connectivity. On the other hand Skylab’s software will not.

Also, their info on their application page is misleading too: “This offline map is stored on your PlayBook™, once you download the entire app, you are good to go. “. I downloaded the app (a 450 Mb download) and was very hopeful. On my first run, it told me I didn’t have any cached data and it will start downloading. I was thinking, great it will download the whole US maps and I’ll be good. Nope. It only downloaded where I was currently located.

Above picture is when I scroll down a bit from my current location a bit while offline. Funny enough, I went out to the full US map while online, quickly zoomed into one location and waited 30 seconds. The results weren’t pleasing either:

The options in the app is very limited as well, there really isn’t much to customize there:

There is no search, no navigation, no voice prompts, etc. So if you need directions or voice navigation you won’t find it here. And finally to drop the nail into this app’s coffin, I was laying down on my bed near the window. The app showed me as speeding at a whooping 20 miles (32Km) /hr. Next I went outside, set on a chair. Now I was going at 80miles(128Km)/hr. That is just not right (Unless my house was moving that fast beyond my knowledge ;))

The maps are provided by OpenStreetMap project. I wouldn’t call them the most reliable (in comparison to Navteq and TeleAtlas), but they are alright.

Overall, $9.99 is an overkill for this app, the description is misleading and it does not work. I would highly recommend staying AWAY from it.

16 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. Thanks for the public service announcement.

  2. They’ve successfully managed to flood BB App World for two weeks with these apps. :/

  3. +1 for me: stay away from these apps.
    I bought the SFO maps to have an offline map while at devcon in october and was disappointed.
    its a fake and should be banned from app world.

  4. Did purchase one app from SkyLab (USA Explorer GPS). The map was so outdated and slow. Total Disappointment. Tried to get refund but was unsuccessful. Left a poor review but somehow it was taken off by them? Is that really allowed!!??

    • I’m also waiting to see my negative review. doin’t know who verifies apps for app world. these maps are totally nonsense. I bought san francisco map and if opening the app there’s nothing from SFO – parts from spain are shown, all totally slow. on my phone I’m using offline-maps successfully – have thought would be great to have one of SFO o my PlayBook, too to use without expensive data plan when traveling from germany to devcon next month.
      have to mention this is the first app I’m really disappointed with for PlayBook.

  5. If you’re looking for offline use your best bet may still be trekbuddy. You won’t get searchable maps or turn by turn directions, but you can make your own maps from your preferred provider using third party tools and it has no data connection.

  6. I’m placing my bets on Magellan Compass. It tethers to the smartphone when you are out of reach of a wifi signal and uses Google Maps plus it has some additional functions. It may be a bit slow as it’s going through the phone but it’s way better than the crap coming out of SkyLab.

  7. Thank you so much for posting this.

  8. Agree that it’s total crap… The 800Mbyte download (for Mexico) indicates that it has loaded a pretty decent map, but it refuses to display the loaded map and only displays what it can get of the Internet. Usually it just crashes, and never does get all the local area loaded. I’d suspect a software bug as it never displays the built-in maps. Who can you complain to before I delete the damn thing? (And why does RIM allow this to be on their Appworld site?)

  9. It’s in the fine print. RIMM does not offer refunds even though the app SUCKS!!! Hence, developers can charge anything they like and they pocket it… as you can see..9.99 per’s a killing. SkyLab should be barred and castrated.

  10. I got the following from Skylab… It wasn’t helpful at all. Has ANYONE got this app to run?

    “In order to install the map onto your device you first need to unload the map once you have downloaded the map.

    1.On the main screen click on the icon of the map you just downloaded. It will bring up a white screen with the mesasge,”No cache tiles found” click on the yes option.

    2. You will then see a message that the app is initializing the map data please be patient and wait for the map to cache. This may take some time to cache because the files are very large.

    3. Once the app has loaded the map properly onto the device it should stay in the app and show you the map.

    If you have issues with caching and the app closes cache and returns to the main screen then it may mean that the cache till no unload all the map files and you would need to try again.

    To clear the cache for the map you need to click on the bottom left icon to bring up the option menu and click on the tile info and then on clear cache.
    Once you have done this then you can recache the map. You are best to do the cache after you restart the device and not to open any other application.

    Best regards,
    Skylab Mobilesystems Ltd.”

    I told them that the “Tile info” screen shows the message “Free space: estimating”. It does this even after several hours. It never goes away. (Unlike a lot of their customers!)

  11. Like others, I bought the app before doing an online search (lesson learned). As of Feb. 3, 2012, it’s still doesn’t work. It’s total CRAP!!! I did manage to get a refund from RIM, not from Skylab. Skylab did offer a “value-back refund” for $10 on my next purchase. That email went straight into the trash. No Thanks!!!

    Due to Skylab, I’ve stopped making purchases from AppWorld. One bad developer ruins it for the rest of the developer community. But with developers able to remove negative reviews at will, I just can’t make any purchases with confidence. Once the Droid Market opens with the 2.0 upgrade, I suspect things will be better.

  12. Dani, if you read this, could you do the rest of us a favor and let us know how you contacted RIM for a refund? I think that’s the best solution for this software. Thanks!

  13. I Agree with Ray, Need to know how one gets a refund!!

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