BlackBerry maker RIM has released its free BlackBerry Travel app to Australian users. This exceptionally handy app is actually the long-established WorldMate app, purchased by RIM and re-released free of charge.
The killer feature of WorldMate is the ability to forward an itinerary confirmation email to them and have the trip details automatically added to the WorldMate itinerary, which can be viewed online, or on the phone through the WorldMate app.
This service is now available through BlackBerry Travel -- but in an even cleverer way. The BlackBerry Travel app monitors incoming email on the BlackBerry itself and automatically catches itinerary confirmation emails from airlines, hotels and car hire companies, so that people don't have to forward them manually.
The details of the itinerary are then also synced into the user's BlackBerry calendar, so there's no need to put them in manually -- and of course, this is synced back to whatever service the BlackBerry is connected to, such as a work Exchange Server or Google Calendar.
There's also a web-based service that allows you to log in from any computer to view or print itineraries.
The app can also monitor flight statuses, and if a flight is delayed or cancelled, push an alert to the user's BlackBerry screen.
RIM even says the app can identify potential travel booking mistakes, such as missing accommodation or timing conflicts.
Other functions included in the app include researching and booking flights and hotels, currency conversion, weather forecasts, "what's nearby" local search, and the ability to share itineraries with colleagues and friends via LinkedIn.
The old WorldMate app used to cost US$99 per year for BlackBerry users -- so as a freebie, BlackBerry Travel is a considerable value-add. (On the flip-side, WorldMate now only costs $4.99 to purchase on iPhone, so that US$99 figure was arguably a bit inflated to start with.)
WorldMate and RIM say they have been working with big hotel chains, online travel agents and airlines such as Continental, Expedia, Hilton, Starwood and United to directly merge their data into the app.
BlackBerry users can download the app through the AppWorld icon on their handset, or by going to www.blackberry.com/au/travel (ignore the last line on that page that says the app is not available in Australia -- it is, and the page just hasn't been updated yet.)
It requires BlackBerry OS 5 or higher, and will run on BlackBerry Bold, Curve, Storm and Torch (however it won't work on the original BlackBerry Bold 9000, for example, which ran BlackBerry OS 4).