I love the Google maps application that comes preinstalled on the iPhone. Since Google powers it, it’s always updated, and almost always correct. That being said, I really, really like the CoPilot Live App. There is something to be said for a dedicated turn by turn, voice guided App. This App packs all of the things that you would expect from a GPS App, and more. It’s the “more” that earns it a place on the Best App Site, and a place in my navigation folder on my iPhone.
What you would expect
There are some things that a turn-by-turn GPS must have to make it functional. It must have an easy to use, easy to read interface. It must offer 3d as well as 2d driving modes. It absolutely has to have favorites, home, work, address, and points of interest (POI) options for destination input. I expect that the App will have the option of at bare minimum, walking as well as driving if not expanded beyond that to different types of vehicles. The App should allow you to access your contacts to obtain their addresses to use as destinations, it should also allow you to input intersecting streets. CoPilot does all of these things and more!
Upon launching the App you are greeted with a cheerful voice welcoming you to CoPilot live. You are then presented with a screen of options, your places, destination, quick stops, and more. Tapping any of these buttons will bring up a new menu easily, and quickly walking you through getting your destination chosen and you on your way. If you have used any kind of GPS interface, be it an App on your iPhone or a stand along GPS unit, you will feel right at home in this App. The GPS is quick to fix on your location even under cloudy conditions, and in my time testing this App the signal never dropped, ever. Once a destination has been chosen and you are under way on your trip, the turn-by-turn directions are timely, and precise. As with most others, this App gives you your next turn direction as well as distance from that turn on the lower left side of the screen.
What I love
For me, I expect my GPS App to do multiple things. While I’m driving I often times connect to my radio via Bluetooth and listen to music off of my iPhone through my speakers, so when I saw that CoPilot has a music option, I was excited. This means that I can use my phone for music as I have been doing while I’m also using it for GPS. Sure, CoPilot is iOS 4.2 compatible (meaning it can run in the background while I’m using other applications) but if I use the built in music section of the App, when I’m approaching turns, lane changes, or my destination I have control over how the App handles the music. I can instruct the App to simply play the directions at the same level as the music, I can have the App lower the music level so the directions can be heard better, or I can tell the App not to voice the directions at all.
Built in search is very, very important to me. Often times I’m on my way to a destination and I realize that I have forgotten something, or maybe I want to stop for a bite to eat at a specific place. In version 8 (the current version) of CoPilot you receive a live local search option absolutely free. This is great! In previous versions it wasn’t free, so this is a big improvement on the App.
Often times when I’m driving in unfamiliar locations I get confused (even with a GPS) as to which lane goes where, both on the highway and when making turns on regular roads. Enter Lane assistance, and Clear turn by CoPilot. These two features are great! They give you a 3d view of what the lanes actually look like, and which one you should be on! This is one of the features that Terry loves about his favorite App Navigon which he reviewed here and now it’s also standard on the CoPilot live.
Another huge feature on CoPilot live is the speed limit warning. This warning is user customizable, meaning you can have it alert you when you’re so many MPH over (user defined MPH over), or turn it off entirely. This is great for me where I live. Here in Ohio we have long stretches of “country” roads where the speed limit is 45-55MPH then out of nowhere a small town comes into view where the speed limit is down to 35 or even 25. CoPilot live will alert you before you ever get close to the town. It’s a great feature to have and I can tell you it’s saved my butt a couple of times.
A couple of things to improve upon
Unlike the Navigon App that I mentioned earlier, CoPilot Live is not a universal binary. This means that you have to pay twice for this App if you want to have it on your iPhone, and iPad. I prefer universal binaries because I don’t like to have to keep track of two different versions of the same App in my iTunes library.
Second, to cancel a route, you have to dig a couple of menus in. There isn’t a place on the main screen or the menu screen. You have to go to menu-plan or edit trip-options then you can clear it. That’s way too much work. I want to hit menu and have a “cancel route” option.
Lastly is the way that you shut the App down. When you close out of it, the App doesn’t actually close. It’s still running in the background. This is great if you’re doing something else while in route to your destination, and want the GPS to run in the background. This isn’t so good however if you just want to close the App. I have found that if you don’t have a route programmed and you hit the home button to put the App in the background, it will close automatically after a few minutes. I want a button in the menu to exit the App.
Overall CoPilot Live is a great App, I wouldn’t be talking about it if it weren’t. It has a lot of features that I really like, and it works really well. If you’re in the market for a GPS App, CoPilot should at least get a second look from you. You just may find that you love it!