updated 05:45 pm EDT, Mon July 19, 2010
BlackBerry can now use non-GPS positioning
RIM today caught up to smartphone rivals by adding a geolocation service to its phones. The approach lets BlackBerries finally obtain their position without needing a true GPS unit. Like most other devices, they can use cell site triangulation to get a reasonable position fix when GPS either isn't present or is blocked.
The feature is also faster and potentially useful for BlackBerry apps that only need a general idea of the phone's location to get nearby points of interest, local Twitter updates or similar content. Any app using geolocation can switch over to GPS to get a more accurate position lock if needed.
Using the feature requires BlackBerry OS 5 or later with a carrier that allows for it, which includes virtually all North American providers.
The change partly addresses one of the most common complaints of navigation on BlackBerries. Without any other assists, the devices have typically taken far longer to get their position than competitors. Android and iPhone devices often have locks within seconds as they often use both triangulation and Wi-Fi to get a rough fix before settling in.