CoPilot Live 8: full featured turn by turn nav, and a bargain too!
[Please see the updated take on Nav apps here to see why CoPilot is still my pick for the best resident map Nav App on the iPhone.]
Okay, I admit it. I am an app junkie. Apparently I can not stop with one of any kind of app. I was happy with Navigon’s Mobile Navigator for iPhone (see Navigon Update and Navigon Review). It worked. It worked well. It still works well. It is just that I read this little piece on the upgraded versions of the other Nav apps out there, and got, you know, to wondering.
CoPilot, according to this little piece, just added text to speach, making it the second app with that feature. And, CoPilot has thing called CoPilot Live, which includes live map updates based on new data and user feedback on the existing maps, the ability to display a 5 day weather report for your destination, an add-on (costs extra) for real time traffic, and something that shares locations with friends. But what hooked me was when I read that you could enter a waypoint (intermediate stop) by just tapping the map. That was a feature I had just been thinking, on my last trip, that I really wished Navigon could do.
Given that CoPilot Live 8 sells for $34.95, or about 1/3 the price of Navigon or TomTom, I, you know, got to wondering if it was maybe worth a try. Just for research. You know. To find out if it was any good. At the least I would get a review out of it, right?
So I bought it. That’s what app junkies do. I have about 130 apps in the green pastures of my iTunes library. I have maybe 30 of them on my iPhone. Still, you get the benefit, gentle readers, of my disorder. As in this review of CoPilot Live 8 for iPhone!
First, the most noticable difference between Navigon and CoPilot, at least on my 3G iPhone, is one word: SPEED! Sure CoPilot launches faster (a whole lot faster) and it finds its initial location faster too, and it maps your route faster as well…but the real difference is in the menu works…touching a button or choice in Navigon always left me wondering it I hit it right, because there was noticeable lag every time you tried to do anything. Typing text the whole program hung between letters, and it took seconds for the list of anything to fill (states, towns, restaurants, etc.) Not fatal. Just annoying. (Well, maybe fatal if you tried to do anything while driving too often.) I was living with it. CoPilot on the other hand almost seems to anticipate your touch and start to do whatever you wanted before you get your finger off the screen. Shucks, it is often completely done doing whatever you asked it to do before you get our finger off the screen. Fast? I’d say fast. And this on a 3G.
It does everything that Navigon does except for display the speed limits and traffic signs and provide lane assist (interestingly the European versions of CoPilot do these things as well…so there is hope NA will get these features in an upgrade somewhere down the line). Oh yeah, and the text to speech voice is not nearly as sexy as the Navigon voice, but maybe they will fix that too. (CoPilot does offer other voice choices, equally as sexy as the single voice on the Navigon, but only the Frank Computer voice does text to speech.) On the other hand, CoPilot Live does a whole lot of things Navigon does not do.
There is that touch the map to enter a destination thing. That is so cool, and so useful. Then there is the touch a Point of Interest and a pop-up appears with the name, location, and the option to either go to or, get this, call! thing. How cool is that? There is the ability to search for Points of Interest not only buy picking them from a list centered on whatever location you specify, be it right
near by or a far away city…but by tying the name directly. Ever try to find a Subway in a strange city on most Nav devices or apps? This thing is as good as Google maps or Yelp at locating just exactly what you are after. Actually better than Yelp since it will display a map with your choices displayed and represented by numbers. There is also a very easy touch button to show you Points of Interest along your route you might want to visit. (Navigon can do this too…but it is not nearly as easy or as intuitive.)
I am actually discovering more features that I really like as I use the app more. For instance, I just found on a recent trip that when you reach a destination, you get a pop-up asking if you want to return to your starting point or program a new destination. Way to go! I don’t know how often I have gotten back in the car and thought “boy, I wish I could just tell this GPS to take me back where I started.” On most apps and stand alone units you have to manually enter the address, or, at the very least, go to your recents and choose it from there. You can also access the return route in CoPilot through the Edit Route menu.
And, while the Frank Computer voice may not be sexy, the text to speech instructions are the best I have yet encountered. Frank remarks on confusing sharp bends in your current path, guides you on and off ramps (with next turn instructions where needed), and provides route names in a manner that simply inspires confidence. He may be a computer, but he is a vastly considerate computer…and knows just what you need to hear.
And did I say CoPilot does all of this fast? I think I did.
CoPilot Live also provides a much greater range of customization than Navigon: for screen display, map display, Point of Interest display, routing options, etc. etc.
Strangely it also has the ability to save and reload a route. I have never seen that before.
The menu system is several screens deep, but very intuitive. I figured most of this stuff out just playing with it so far.
If you have noticed a, shall we say, playful tone to this review, it is intentional, and inspired by the app itself. The maps are somewhat cartoony…crayon bright and colorful…not objectionably so…but enough to give me a this is fun impression while viewing them. I have no idea if this was intentional on the part of the programmers, but to me, it is a theme that runs through the whole program…from the funky maps to the (can it be intentionally) funky computer voice for text to speech, to the Live features that include social sharing, to the jazzy menu layout and screen navigation controls…this app just gives me a fun feeling. Navigon is very capable and serious, fully competent to get you where you are going. CoPilot Live is fun, and seems to assume that you might want to have some fun along the way to where you are going.
Just my impression. Call me crazy.
Of course, it is not all fun. I have found some minor mapping inaccuracies around my native patch. At least one short by-pass that is not on the map, street number offsets, and it does fail on my GPS/Mapping program worse case test: 53 Depot Street, Freeport, ME. (Most map apps, including Google Maps, put 53 at the wrong end of Depot Street altogether, something I found out the hard way when trying to make it to my daughter’s recital one memorable day.) On a recent lengthy trip down the Atlantic coast from Jekyll Island GA to Boynton Beach FL and back to Jacksonville the next day (6 hours each way) on I95, it gave me two instructions to stay on 95 while the secondary route number (407 in GA, and 9 in FL) “split off”. It evidently thought that the change in route number meant the other route went somewhere 95 didn’t. In neither case was there an exit when Frank said “now stay on 95″. The first time was actually in the middle of the river separating GA and FL. Good thing I have more sense than my iPhone.
As with any GPS app or device, on long trips I would advise checking the route before you start driving, checking your destination to make sure it is where you really want to go (easy in CoPilot since you can see the route on a map and zoom in at the destination end, or see a turn list), and maybe using another mapping service (Google, MapQuest) to verify. It is easy on the iPhone. Google Maps is right there, and MapQuest is a free download.
That said, and duly warned, at $34.95 CoPilot Live 8 is simply a steal. By far the least expensive turn by turn nav app on the store. And yet it is certainly among the best, if not the best overall. I will continue to give it a through workout over the next months of travel and report back on any issues I find, but so far, I like this app!
I like it so much it makes it hard to go back to sluggish, stodgy old Navigon. In fact, I took Navigon off my iPhone (to free up more memory for apps, of course!) and retired it to the green pastures of my iTunes Library.
Check out the CoPilot Live website.
Or view CoPilot Live on the iPhone app store.
Also note this from the CoPilot Live site:
Update coming soon:
- In-app purchases for premium Live services
- Access to iPod controls and playlists from CoPilot
- Additional GPS performance improvements
- User control to dim or switch-off music during voice instructions
- Further enhancements based on customer feedback
Better and better. Each one of these features will be most welcome, thank you. Especially the iPod controls and music interruption during voice instructions! And “further enhancements based on customer feedback”…now there is a phrase to conjure with.
Like I said. I am liking this app!
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