Hands-on: WorldMate Live for BlackBerry

WorldMate Live boosts WorldMate's business travel software with real-time itinerary retrieval and automatic notifications.

WorldMate Live logo

I liked previous iterations of WorldMate, a travel organizer best suited for power business travelers, at least in theory. The app grouped valuable travel information in one place, but pricing made it impractical for most casual users. WorldMate Live for BlackBerry is an app I can get behind, with its clean, friendly interface; fully synchronized Internet maps and alerts; and a more congenial pricing model that assumes basic, free usage and provides frequent, but never obnoxious, opportunities to upgrade.

The revamped WorldMate Live adds more value with a brand new on-app itinerary section for inputting flight, hotel, car rental, and meeting details to go along with a corresponding Web app, where you can also input information. All trip data is stored on WorldMate's servers and synced in real time when the app opens and auto-connects online. Maps, powered by Google on your online account and by BlackBerry's native map on the device, are another new addition.

WorldMate Live

WorldMate Live, as seen on a BlackBerry Pearl.

(Credit: CNET Networks)

Live data pushes were my favorite new feature, where WorldMate Live will jolt your device awake (as long as it's on) to inform you of any travel delays and even suggest alternative itineraries that might rescue your timeline, but only for subscribers. I was less impressed with the Microsoft Outlook add-on, an option for all account holders. The toolbar for exporting your itineraries to WorldMate's server crashed my in-box the first time I tried loading it, but then righted.

The world clock, weather lookup, and currency converter remain free for all users, and are still easy to manage. WorldMate Live still leaves some click-through calling to be desired; I'd prefer not to have to exit the itinerary page to reach my airline directory to call for a new flight. However, regular business travelers would rarely encounter this hiccup. While you can plot your trip on a map, you can't get directions, a major disappointment.

The extended functionality and more on-the-ball Internet-to-phone alert services have raised the yearly rate from $75 to $100. Users who can't expense the cost and who want to avoid paying out of pocket can still create a free account, but won't be able to access flight alerts or schedules, the travel directory, or customer support. Still, there's enough benefit for students and families who want to get at travel info from a pleasant interface to merit a free account--provided they have the storage space.

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