(Co-Pilot Live 8 for iPhone Forum Review by cjvitek For more Forum Reviews, see the TiPb iPhone App Store Forum Review Index!)
With CoPilot Live North America [$34.99 - iTunes link] The march of GPS Turn-by-turn apps continued. (See the App Review master list, above, for reviews of AT&T Navigator, Navigon Mobile Navigator, iGo My Way, and Sygic Mobile Maps). In the interest of full disclosure, I received a promo code to review this app.
GPS Turn-by-turn apps all want to achieve the same goal - become the ultimate navigation assistant to help you when you are driving. So far the apps I have reviewed have had strong points and some weak points - each having some features that are nice, but no one app dominating the competition. CoPilot Live falls right in, with some compelling features but also lacking some features to put it over the top.
Let's start with the interface. I love it. In my mind, a GPS TBT app should be easy to use and operate - large button, easy to read screen, easy to program, etc. For the most part, CoPilot live does a great job. When using the menu, the buttons are large and easy to read (and hit). The features are clearly outlined, and there is a systematic approach to the layout (I had very little hunting around trying to find a specific feature). Having said that, some of the buttons were a little small - including the button to get to the menu. Like some of the other apps, when typing in an address or name, this app would try to anticipate what you wanted, providing a list of matching names. I find this type of interface very helpful, as I don't have to type out the entire name myself.
This app did have contact integration. One interesting thing about the contacts - not all of them were listed. I think it only lists contacts that have an actual address - which makes sense, if you think about it. The five or six I checked matched that criteria, but I didn't check all the missing contacts. If that is accurate, I say kudos to CoPilot Live for including this feature which makes sense, but is missing from other apps!
The POI interests can be viewed while traveling, and entered as a destination as well. Like Navigon, the POI database seemed a little sparse - it didn't have the school I work for listed as a POI, and it is the tenth largest University in Texas (or something like that). Hopefully this will be something that can be added to in future updates.
I liked the use of the app as well. It was quick to pick up a signal, and I didn't lose it once. You can choose POI to be displayed. There is supposedly a feature for lane assistance, but I couldn't get it to work - possibly due to the fact I live in the outskirts of civilization here in Texas. WHen you have a map created, there were also options to choose an alternate route, and the option to avoid certain segments of your trip! Something I have been looking for in the other apps. Unfortunately, I tried it out, and it didn't seem to make any different in the trip plans (the route was still listed as the same). It's possible that I needed to actually REACH that road to avoid it, but I am not sure (especially since I asked to avoid a 163 mile segment of highway...I would have thought it would recalculate a large portion of a trip in that case). Unfortunately, there is no option to indicate a preferred road.
There are a number of live features that are supposed to be added - including weather (where you are, or your destination), traffic, and friends (which I assume finds contacts in the area?). However, the traffic and friends options were greyed out. The traffic is listed as being a premium extra that you have to pay for in future updates. The weather worked very well.
Another nice feature that I have only seen sporadically is the ability to add stops during your trip. You can even optimize them and plan for rest locations. While driving, you have various settings you can tweak - including when the app will warn you about an upcoming turn, how the map is viewed (2D, 3D, or 2D with next turn). You have preview options of seeing the whole trip, running a simulation of the trip, seeing an itinerary, or even going through the trip turn by turn. Nice options there. The screen itself also allows for two displays - you can have things like speed, ETA, distance left, etc. I didn't see any option for speed limit warning, although other reviews have mentioned them. I might be blind, or it might be limited to other maps (UK or Europe, for example).
The biggest issue I had with CoPilot live was the choice of routes. Again, for small, everyday routes, the directions seemed very accurate. If the road was listed (there were a few times where newer roads weren't on the map - my home street was not listed for planning directions), the route was very straightforward. However, for longer routes, I had some problems. You can choose between a quickest, shortest, and economical routes (with specifications for avoiding tolls roads and similar options). Now, I plugged in the same trip I have been doing for all the apps - Edinburg, TX to Terlingua, TX. About 600 miles as I drive it. The shortest route came up with the standart shortest route (by miles) at about 590 miles. However, the quickest route had me going about 100 miles out of my way, up to San Antonio. And the ETA's for both of the trips was, well, insanely wrong. The trip has taken between between 10 and 12 hours. The estimated travel time for the quickest route (690 miles) was 18 hours. For the shortest route (590 miles) it was over 20 hours. Now, I could understand if it was driving back roads the whole time, but we are talking about driving on highways with a 70 or 75 mph speed limit!
As I previously said, I tried to "tweak" my route by indicating sections of the road to avoid (hoping that it would get me a route that I have taken in the past), but the map didn't appear to change - despite the fact I said I wanted to detour around 163 miles of highway. Maybe some of these issues are due to the fact I am not trying it out in a big metropolitan area, and if you live in an area like that you won't have any of the problems. But ultimately the app is supposed to be for anywhere in North America, so I should still be able to use it here, out in the middle of no where.
All in all, this app had some very strong points and some areas that clearly needed work. The interface and some of the options were absolutely great, but ultimately it is about driving and the routes. As such, given that it estimated a trip I know only take about 10 hours as a 18 to 20 hour trip, I can't help but question the accuracy of it's route choices for long distance trips. Some of the features (like road detours) didn't seem to have any obvious effect on the routes and maps, but it could be that the effect would only be obvious when I got to that segment of the trip. At $34.99, the app is far from the most expensive, and for that money it delivered a reasonable GPS experience. But until the routing issues are fixed, I can only give it three and a half out of five stars.
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