Starry Night review

Reviews Mary Branscombe 17:01, 13 Jul 2009

We review Starry Night, a star-gazing guide for your BlackBerry

One of the more unusual applications for Android is Sky Map; this uses the accelerometer and compass in Android phones to give you a map of the sky.

Starry Night promises to the same on a BlackBerry, although as the Storm is the only BlackBerry with an accelerometer (and there isn’t a BlackBerry with a compass in) you have to give it more information.

Starry Night says it will use a postcode, but this doesn’t seem to work for UK locations (US zip codes work without any problems). If you have GPS on your BlackBerry, it will pick up your location from this (and it takes the time from the handset too); if not, you’ll have to look up your location in latitude and longitude on a service like Google Maps and type this in by hand.

If you do give Starry Night a location by hand, it’s then very difficult to force it to go back to using the GPS location instead.

There are other problems. On a Storm, you’ll probably have to go into Options > Advanced Options > Applications, select Starry Night and choose Disable Compatibility Mode to be able to hide the keyboard, which covers the bottom half of the application. On some devices, instead of a star map, we saw just a blank screen or an error about mismatch in data formats.

When you get Starry Night to accept a location, you can also choose which direction to show (north, south, east or west) and which elements you want to see. By default it includes the horizon and ecliptic (the path of the sun across the sky, which is the line that planets like Venus and Mars lie along).

Also by default, Starry Nights gives you a daylight view, with a blue sky that hardly shows the stars. This isn’t particularly useful if you're looking in advance to see what stars will be out tonight, so you’ll want to turn this off.

The sky map you get back is a nice clear view of the sky, with the stars and planets labelled. But if you want to move around, you have to press N, S, E or W on the keyboard to switch to another direction – particularly awkward on the Storm.

Starry Night is a nice idea and if you can get it working, you’ll be able to name starts you never recognised before. But it’s just too awkward an application to get working for most users, and it lacks the panning touch controls of the iPhone version, let alone the compelling features of Star Map (like being able to search for a star and get directions to see it). Disappointing.

Starry Night info

Ease of use:

Platform: BlackBerry

Price: Free

Developer: Imaginova

Website/Demo: Imaginova website

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