By Legacy | October 2, 2009 12:52 AM
Some of you have probably seen Trapster on an iPhone, BlackBerry or Android device. If you haven’t seen or heard of it, Trapster is a free app that tracks your location on a map (using GPS) and alerts you to surrounding speed traps/cameras. Unfortunately, the version of Trapster released for Windows Mobile a while back left a lot to be desired. For example, it didn’t have map support to show locations of speed traps. Well, we’ve recently received word from the folks at Trapster that a newly revamped version for Windows Mobile is headed to Windows Marketplace for Mobile on Oct. 6. This version will be comparable to the one found on the iPhone. We were able to get our hands on the app ahead of the official release, so click on to learn all about it.
How It Works:
Trapster’s main purpose is to alert drivers of approaching speed traps and cameras. You might be wondering how it’s possible to accurately collect such data, but the concept is quite simple community sharing. Millions of users contribute by reporting locations of speed traps through their mobile devices. Reportable items include: live police (radar traps), red light cameras, fixed speed cameras, police hiding spots, combo cameras, mobile speed cameras, and police checkpoints. All of these traps/cameras have their own respective icons, so you can easily tell one from the other on the map (live police traps expire within one hour of the report). Once a report is filed, it’s shared with the entire Trapster community. If another user reports a trap in the same location, the icon will change from green to yellow. If a particular trap location is reported enough, it will turn red. This verification system allows users to differentiate frequent trap sites from obscure ones. Let’s just say that it would be wise to slow down when a red trap is spotted on your map.
As you approach pre-identified speed traps or cameras, you will receive an audible alert. Alert ranges can be changed in the settings menu. Clicking on different icons will display more information, such as the date of the last report and the address of the location. Users also have the ability to agree or disagree with any trap listed on their map, which effectively contributes to the community. It doesn’t matter what type of mobile device or platform you use because all users share data in real time with other users (even if they use the 1-800 tip line, text messages, or Trapster’s site). Basically, Windows Mobile users get the benefit of the entire community and what they’ve already contributed over a lengthy period of time (thanks, iPhone users!).
The map works just as you’d expect. You can zoom in/out and select between road, satellite and hybrid views. A pleasant surprise is that Trapster doesn’t just limit you to viewing speed traps. It can also display real-time traffic/accident info and route directions on the map. On top of that, it can search and display points of interest. For example, you can search “pizza” and Trapster will return a list of nearby restaurants that serve pizza. You can then choose to display them on the map and see exactly where they’re located. Powerful features like this make me somewhat anxious to see what future installments of Trapster will look like.
Future Releases for Windows Mobile:
Speaking of future updates, the Trapster team was kind enough to share some of that info with us. They’ll soon be adding a trip recorder with support for geotagged photos. It basically lets you record your trip and send it to a friend or relative. On the other end, the recipient receives a web link that lets them track your location, in real time, on a map. They can even view the photos you take along the way. Sounds like a great way to keep in touch with a significant other or even a grandparent during a road trip. Trips can be set to private, shared with a select few, or shared with the world. There will also be support for multiple languages and custom voices for alerts. The POI database will be expanded to include school zones, fire & police stations, gas stations, banks and parking lots. Also coming soon is the ability for users to report accidents and other helpful info. Apparently, users want the capability to contribute directly to their area on a wider scale, not just speed traps.
Although I was eager to try Trapster, I was rather skeptical about the accuracy of the app at first. That’s partially because I didn’t read any tutorials or know about the extended features beforehand. After realizing there was a validation system and fully exploring all the features, I was thoroughly impressed. Taking the app out for a spin eliminated any lingering doubts. My test run with the app was literally a test. I checked out local areas where I knew the police like to set up shop and sure enough, there were high alerts for hiding spots marked on the map. I even checked intersections where there are cameras and found they were highlighted on the map as well. The reports on the map were pretty recent, which shows that the Trapster community is alive and kicking (thanks again, iPhone users!). With Marketplace’s launch approaching, there’s no doubt in my mind that Windows Mobile users will soon contribute to a large portion of Trapster reports.
The app will be free and should be available on Windows Marketplace at launch on Oct 6th. There will also be a download link for it on Trapster’s site. You can also view descriptions for each of the different alerts on there as well.
Update: Trapster is now up for download on their site. The Marketplace seems to be lagging behind with submitted apps, but hopefully we’ll see it soon.