App Review - Trapster

Trapster is a free navigation app for the Apple iPhone and iPad that is particularly useful for frequent over-the-road travellers, such as truckers. What Trapster does particularly well is alert you to upcoming road hazards, enforcement checkpoints and other similar events. Trapster certainly isn’t the first app of its kind, but it distinguishes itself, as well as overcome some shortcomings common to apps like these, by powering itself through social networking.

How it works is that each Trapster user has an account. You’ll sign up for this account the first time you use the app, and you’ll use it to log in each time you run it, although you can set it to automatic sign in for convenience. You can also associate your account with both your Facebook and Twitter accounts. This allows you to share and retrieve information through those services. The Facebook Connect aspect is particularly powerful because it gives your access to a bigger map. The Twitter feature lets you get important information out beyond the Trapster user base.

Trapster relies on its community to work well, but participation is optional. In fact, the network of truckers and other professional drivers using Trapster make it so that you’ll rarely have the opportunity to report on anything. Anytime we tried, the event was already there. Trapster also has an excellent caravan feature, which lets you add other Trapster users to your caravan. With the caravan mode active, you can see everyone in your caravan on the map.

Trapster works well on the iPhone, but the caravan mode and other advanced map features truly take advantage of the iPad’s bigger screen. With a dashboard or window-mounted iPad, Trapster becomes a must-have tool for professional drivers. Using the caravan feature, you can send messages out to the entire caravan, and you can also single tap a particular driver to get access to their Facebook account, or to contact them via text message or phone.

If Trapster has a weakness, it’s that the sharing and review processes are too complex to use while driving. If you’re using an iPhone, you’ll probably have to pull off to the side of the road to enter any substantial information. The iPad makes it easier, but it’s still an involved process. The other issue is the Trapster limits the scope of the map based on your current location. If you want to look beyond that, you’ll have to load up a different map app to do it.

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