Used to love it on WinMo. Loved the concept. And now they’ve really jazzed up the interface, all 3D and pretty.

But all that’s left it seems is old data on red light cameras (who needs to run all these red lights anyway?). Testing it across multiple states, not one accurate live cop, no apparent sign of fresh data, no helpful traffic information. There was one thing about it I like, the speedometer coupled with the sometimes-accurate speed limit sign (my license is up to six points, ouch), I see they’ve got an active Twitter account, but other than that, Trapster is apparently worthless from what I’m seeing.

I imagine this is largely due to users flocking to Waze (claiming 40+ million users) which now has, in addition to rather good navigation, traffic data, an obviously large and active user base, yes a speedometer, mediocre speech still but a decent and an improving interface, I believe much improved data aggregation due, in part, to its incorporation into Apple Maps, and of course, most importantly, it does a fantastic job telling me where the cops are hiding. It saved my ass yesterday actually, and Trapster had no idea. In spite of boasting “18.5 MILLION” users (10m of whom had their accounts hacked a few years ago), Trapster’s database feels like it’s turned into a ghost town.

A really bad thing about Trapster is that when you quit the program (and not by the back button, I mean menu > quit), it keeps on running in the background, and really chewing up your battery hard (using the latest version yesterday). On top of that, the only time my Nexus 4 has ever drained down 70% and overheated enough to stop charging was while running Trapster. I wouldn’t mention that normally as it’s too anecdotal but it’s all over the app’s reviews — that, the background thing too, also on iOS complaints in addition to Android. Gotta reboot or kill the thing in some task manager. I suppose that’s for continued traffic data aggregation, but at least run more efficiently and shut off after I’m, you know, home, without a GPS fix.

Trapster even has a 94 second Youtube video demonstrating how to fully quit the application on iOS: “So we’re going to go ahead and close Trapster — and what most people I don’t think realize is that none of these applications are actually closed. So in order to actually close the application completely, and not have it run in the background, you need to double click, hold down the app until they start doing their little wiggle, and hit the red X in the left hand corner.” Okay Trapster Lady, noted about iOS, but on Android I need to root and use a task killer? Got an official Youtube video with instructions on that? C’mon.

Even more bizarre, it uses over 80MB of storage! In contrast, Google Maps, with cellular map caching enabled, liberal settings, 21MB. Waze, 21MB. Those bytes are precious, what the hell is Trapster doing taking up four times as much as Google Maps and Waze?

The most disturbing, and I don’t want to test this myself because I really wouldn’t want it to do this to me so I left Facebook signed out, but read what this guy had to say in the Google Play review:

If this guy’s correct (maybe he’s mistaken), that is categorically and flagrantly objectionable behavior for an app. No idea why Nate Osborne gave it even three stars in light of that. Hey Nate, is there something I’m missing here, any value to Trapster you noticed that I didn’t? If so, please correct me, I’d love to add some positive things to this review. Also, note that on Google Play Trapster does have a respectable 4.0 rating, and many of the comments are superlative. Maybe I just don’t know how to use the app or know what its purpose is supposed to be. And hey, maybe it doesn’t suck on Windows Phone, someone with nothing else to do please try it and report back. Blackberry guys, go for it. So let me crowdsource calling me out on an unjustly-negative review, if that’s what this is.

Trapster developers, look, I am sorry to rip on your software like this, and I can tell you’ve worked hard over the years, but Trapster has gone downhill just way too far for me not to use the word sucks in the title.

Doug Simmons

9 COMMENTS

  1. Back at the beginning of Trapster, I got the impression that the info was user generated.
    I am too busy driving to report speed trap locations, and I expected the other drivers were also too busy. So I never really thought the info would be comprehensive, and I didn’t bother with this app.
    Too bad, cool idea.
    Peace

  2. Yeah, i agree with almost everything you have said except the facebook part. I have never tried. I ended fully uninstalling trapster from my phone recently.

    • Well, hey, as I said, I did not try to confirm what this guy wrote as I do not want a Trapster promotion popping up on my facebook wall or whatever. He seems convinced that it happen but I think it’s possible, maybe probable, that this guy is either mistaken or that Trapster did do it at one point and then realized it wasn’t a good idea and took it off. Worth making a dummy facebook account to find out if it’s doing it now, unless someone else knows from experience.

  3. i’d love to pretend i know what you’re talking about here… but if it aint nokia maps or google navigator… it dead to me. i can’t trust these 3rd party devs with my life when im going 80mph on a highway… last time someone did that apple came out and said “sorry about that….just use bing maps.”

    • The mainstream of the navigation apps, like Google Maps, Nokia [Whatever] and Apple Maps (which I believe uses data from Waze, which has the police stuff), while less rough around the edges than the likes of Waze, I imagine it’s unlikely that they’d adopt anything along the lines of something that would help you break laws, namely speeding, also red light cameras. Just too politically unacceptable I suspect. Or they just want to limit the number of options in the settings menu to keep things clean and simple, leaving a smaller market open for the likes of these apps.

      It would be good if someone from Trapster were to swing by to address some of this, like the lingering process (what it’s doing), the frequent crashes I encountered and others reported, excessive data stored, this Facebook issue, whether or not the apparent lack of data is a result of having fewer users than before or perhaps a result of my not using the software right, maybe it’s better outside of the US.

      Also, where they intend to go in the future.

  4. I’ve always wanted to try Trapster but as JR wrote above I always thought the data couldn’t really be accurate. Drivers don’t ahve time to safely note where police are at. Certainly not on the highway and in the city who’s thinking about firing up the Trapster app and posting that info?

    The background running and resource drain is a killer.

    • Disagree Murani, there are enough people with a need for speed, a need not to get more tickets and a need to participate in the joys of crowdsourcing who are not hindered by things like a regard for safety and not dying to produce a useful amount of fresh data — if you’ve got the user base. Waze appears to have that user base, Trapster appears not to. Here’s a shot of Waze saving my ass yesterday, next to it is a screenshot of Trapster not noticing that cop. This is just one set of screenshots, not a compelling amount of evidence, but I’d be willing to keep gathering such data..

      http://mobilitydigest.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/wazevstrapster.png

      I am consistently impressed with Waze’s ability to spot the cops, among other things. I’m not seeing that functionality in Trapster anymore.

      • WOW! So Waze is user generated?
        How easy is it to mark items? Do you have to search menus to find the right icons? How do you mark the map?
        Without actually trying the app, this seems excessively dangerous.
        Sorry

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