BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) this morning announced a new mobile application for BlackBerry-toting travelers, appropriately called “BlackBerry Travel,” at the 2011 Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain.
Many BlackBerry users will quickly recognize the new app, which is currently available in beta form for free via RIM’s BlackBerry App World software store, as a new, cleaned up version of the popular WorldMate mobile travel application for BlackBerry. (WorldMate is–was?–my single favorite travel app for BlackBerry, and as such, I’ve written about it numerous times in this blog and on CIO.com.)
BlackBerry Travel, like its WorldMate predecessor, offers users a variety of valuable, travel-related features and functionality, including quick and easy hotel booking, currency converters, weather forecasts and local business-searches. And the app integrates with a number of core BlackBerry apps, including the BlackBerry calendar, which can be populated with travel plans by the BlackBerry Travel app. BlackBerry Travel can also detect itinerary-related e-mails when they arrive in your BlackBerry inbox so appropriate information can be pulled directly into the application and your calendar. And the app integrates with the LinkedIn social networking service so you can share travel plans with your connections.
BlackBerry Travel features a desktop PC component that lets BlackBerry users book flights and car rentals, print and edit itineraries and more, all from their computers, so trip planning doesn’t need to be done all via mobile device.
WorldMate also makes travel apps for iPhone, Nokia and other devices.
As stated above, I’m a regular WorldMate user, so this announcement is particularly interesting to me. However, I do have a number of questions about the future of WorldMate, the most of obvious of which is, Did RIM buy WorldMate to acquire the popular application? If not, will WorldMate still be available as a standalone application? (WorldMate is still available in BlackBerry App World.) And if so, how will the two apps differ?
Will paid WorldMate “Gold” subscribers, who’ve shelled $12 a month or $100 a year for the service, be reimbursed, since some of the “premium” features found in WorldMate Gold appear to be available for free in BlackBerry Travel, including real-time flight-delay alerts. Or will RIM eventually offer a BlackBerry Travel “Gold” app, with advanced functionality for a price?
I guess we’ll have to just wait and see, because RIM’s press release on the subject offers few answers.
BlackBerry Travel is now available in beta via BlackBerry App World for BlackBerry Curve, BlackBerry Bold and BlackBerry Torch smartphones, running RIM’s BlackBerry OS 5.0 or higher. Read more about the application here.
Al Sacco covers Mobile and Wireless for CIO.com. Follow Al on Twitter @ASacco. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline. Email Al at ASacco@CIO.com.
Al Sacco was a journalist, blogger and editor who covers the fast-paced mobile beat for CIO.com and IDG Enterprise, with a focus on wearable tech, smartphones and tablet PCs. Al managed CIO.com writers and contributors, covered news, and shared insightful expert analysis of key industry happenings. He also wrote a wide variety of tutorials and how-tos to help readers get the most out of their gadgets, and regularly offered up recommendations on software for a number of mobile platforms. Al resides in Boston and is a passionate reader, traveler, beer lover, film buff and Red Sox fan.