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App Review: CoPilot Live [Navigation]

I recently had the opportunity to test CoPilot Live.  CoPilot is a fully-featured navigation app that works and looks like an actual GPS navigation device.  The best feature of the app is that the map data is stored on the SD card.  This is a HUGE advantage over Google Maps Navigation and Sprint Navigation, both of which rely on a data connection for routing and map tiles.

As with all navigation software, use this as a planning tool.  There’s no way for apps to always predict road, traffic, and construction conditions.  Also, be safe.  Only use the app while stopped.  Follow all local, state and federal laws regarding GPS units and mobile phone usage.

The Good

  • Works like a real GPS unit.
  • Maps stored on SD card, works without data connection
  • Route calculation/recalculation is fast
  • Call business listings and save them to ‘favorites’
  • Modes of transportation: walking, car, bike, RV
  • Live services: weather, traffic
  • Text-to-speech voice guidance (remember to set it in the menu)

The Bad

  • TTS on Android v1.6 and above only (sorry Hero and Eris owners)
  • Non-Android keyboard
  • Full screen mode hides the notification bar
  • Interface is not completely intuitive or consistent

The Ugly

  • 10 Day Trial, but only 48 hour Market refund policy
  • $34.95 is an expensive app, but it’s way cheaper than an entry level GPS unit

Summary:
Relaibilty: 4 stars (never crashed, but can be laggy)
Usability: 4 stars (works like a real GPS unit)
Customization: 3 stars (map colors, themes)
Feature/simplicity balance: 4 stars

If there is anything else you’d like to know, leave a comment and I’ll try to answer them the best that I can.

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  • Droidz

    Not enough of a review. Does it have traffic? Fuzzy search by voice? The “fuzzy” search is the biggest reason I use Google Nav, with the second being the price. Yes, Google Nav needs network (at least for the initial route lookup/planning), but that could change in the future.

  • NRBovee

    What about future map updates? Is that included, or will it cost extra?

  • David

    I’ve been using this app for about four months now, and it’s been useful and mostly reliable. The main problem, and the reason that I wish I’d never bought it, is their absolutely WORTHLESS support. I’ve been trying ever since the night I bought the app to use their CoPilot Central software on my PC to download maps. The software wants to charge me for what should be a free download. I’ve sent countless e-mails to their support department; most most have gone unanswered, while what replies I have received have been irrelevant to the problem I’m having.

  • http://www.breon.com Breon

    Thanks for the feedback. It’s my first review :D The Next one will be better.

    “Premium Live Services” are available…traffic, weather, fuel prices. They are an additional $20 per year.

    They do not offer voice search functionality. You are limited to browsing listings or search via typing.

    According to their website they “include the most accurate and up to date satellite street maps available for each region”. How often they are updated, I don’t know.

    I have not had problems with their customer service. I initially installed the app on my first Hero. Then I had to return it (dust). When I tried to install it on the new Hero, the license code wasn’t valid. I emailed them. they responded. I answered their question. They reset my code.

    I did not try CoPilot Central. There isn’t a Mac version :\

    While I agree that the price is right for Google Maps Navigation, I feel that CoPilot can still be a strong player. Offline maps is it’s biggest asset. It will reroute you no matter where you are. Google Maps Navigation can’t reroute when you’re out of your data coverage. And as I said, $35 is a heck of a lot cheaper than a $100-$200 GPS unit.

  • Matthew Lenz

    I have previous experience with this companies products and I’ve always found them to be overpriced, buggy and their support is pretty bad.

  • TF442

    Where do you enable text to speech? Are you saying that with text to speech you will get street names?

  • http://www.otacracy.com Vincent Diamante

    I’ve owned copilot live 8 on both winmo and on android (using it on my hero). The fact that it works without a net connection is nice for those long trips through swaths of unpopulated countryside. It also has a good look, and it was trivial migrating my windows mobile version of the software (which is better) to android. But that’s it…

    - Consistently worse routes than iguidance (winmo), sprint navigation (android), or google maps.
    - no independent volume control
    - poor search capability

    and most importantly for me

    - no support for you phone contacts.

    No contacts? Really? So I have to look at my contact info, then retype all that info into copilot live with that poorer keyboard? Not cool.

    Right now, I’m very glad that I’ve got the combo of Sprint Navigation (internet w/ turn by turn), Copilot Live (local data w/ turn by turn), and Google Maps (internet w/o turn by turn), but I’d be furious if Copilot Live was my only option…

  • Ian

    I’ve been using copilot live since it came out on my HTC Hero, not sure what you mean about TTS only working on 1.6 and above, that makes it sound like it’s only got speech on those versions of the OS. It’s got speech on all versions, but you don’t get road name readout on 1.5 or earlier.

    The app works well enough but is dreadful at time estimates, which means it won’t choose the best routes as it’s getting the metrics all wrong. It works well enough though and is quite cheap for UK users.

    The sound needs better handling, the voice is extremely loud and can’t be turned down without turning down all sound on the unit, so if you listen to music from the phone as well as using the directions, it yells through the loudspeakers so much I tend to turn the voice off — although it’s hard to completely turn it off, on the latest versions, “mute” doesn’t apply to the voice, turning off turn warnings removes the voice mostly, but when you arrive at the desination it yells at you again.

    It’s crashed very frequently for me, usually at least once per trip, and frequently loses GPS fix even when other apps don’t, it appears to do it the most when you are travelling fast, so I suspect it’s not handling changes from one satellite to the next, probably due to it eating CPU.

    When you arrive at a destination, it pops up a pointless box offering you the opportunity to navigate right back to where you came from.. Very useful I don’t think!

    There’s lots more problems with this app, but it works well enough to just about be worth the money.

    What I’d suggest is that you don’t review an app the moment you get it, you use it for a few months then review it, within a week you’ll find lots of things to complain about.

  • warburto

    Sorry for the off topic post, but what’s that skin you’re running on your Hero? I like the look of the launcher and the slimmed down flip clock.

  • SK

    How does it handle voice calls? Does it give directions if I’m on a call and I get near the next turn?

    Does it continue to have accurate location info if the screen is turned off? There was another app (forgot it’s name) in which the accuracy dropped dramatically if the screen is turned off (instead of showing me on the highway, it would think I was on one of the side roads!).

  • Vic Matson

    Traditionally Co-Pilot uses it’s own maps(they suck)not Navtech etc, here in the US so you might want to specifically ask the question and not assume Navtech witch it does use in other areas.

    I tried it last week and if failed on my Android 2.0 Droid phone. This week they made a press release that it has been updated for 2.0. No help from ALK though, as usual.

    My problem now is you can only return apps once using the market.

  • G8D

    Ugly home screen much?

  • mikeeeee

    i drive an 18 wheeler.

    screw those squinty eyed small gps units, i dare you to follow one dillegently and keep your eyes on the road safely.

    remember, at 60 mph you’re traveling 90+ feet per second and it takes upwards of 4 seconds to have your eyes leave the road and return, so what have you been looking at for the last football field?

    if you constantly need navigational help get delorme street atlas usa plus gps unit and load it on a refurb ibm t-40.

    for 300 bucks you got the absolute killer navigation app on a 15″ screen and have a real computer on hand to boot.

    for the other times, google maps works great, if you need a more personal guidance, use your phone for what it was intended to do in the first place and call someone up.

  • Len

    I will be getting the Motorola Droid at the end of November. Can I also download the map for Canada in addition to the one for the United States.

  • http://www.aqadvisor.com yhbae

    I’ve used TomTom7 on WinMo (HTC Diamond) and now this for 3 months on my Magic with Hero Rom.

    - TomTom is much much more responsive as far as GUI goes. CoPilot is dreadfully slow when you search for POIs. Often GUI doesn’t respond for 5 secs or so and often I have to just wait it out just in case I actually pressed it. I don’t think it’s the hardware since Diamond and Magic has the same CPU.

    - Map accuracy in Toronto region is awful in Copilot. Sometimes it says turn left and I don’t see the road. Then I look up and it is there about 10m up. Ouch. This never happened for me in TomTom.

    - Canadian POIs simply isn’t there for CoPilot. May be they are not ready for Canada yet.

    - No auto-zoom in Copilot. Ack.

    - Plus for Copilot – it shows next turn right above the immediate turn if next one is due soon. Very useful.

    - Overall maps are more attractive to my eyes in Copilot. It has a nice landscape mode.

    Generally, I much prefer TomTom to CoPilot. Unfortunately this is the best solution for us Canadians at the moment.

  • maennel

    Hi,

    As far as I know AndNav2 also allows to store maps on the SD storage. That app hasn’t been mentioned yet and, in my opinion, is worth it. So, check it out… ;)

  • Simon

    Real mixed comments… buy my two-pence.

    - Has really good POI searching (e.g. search nearby) and gets relevant places over data (e.g. not just ‘supermarket’, but specific brands, like Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda, etc.)

    - Is dead cheap for a Sat-Nav; I given away my dedicated unit now (well sold it), cos this is all I need.

    - Route timing is pretty poor, but over-estimates, rather than under-estimates (I can normally knock about 10 mins per hour driving, but I do drive fast).

  • mario

    dont forget if you take picture with gps coordinates on it and load it on co pilot it navigates there!!!!

  • David

    I second pretty much everything that Ian has said above (except the crashing – I haven’t experienced that). There have been several times when it’s given me a route that takes me ten miles or so on surface streets that run nearly parallel to a freeway…I can only guess that’s because it under-estimates the time it will take to go that way. The volume issue with the voice is *very* annoying…I’ve also taken to turning off the voice so that it doesn’t blast me while I’m listening to podcasts over Bluetooth.

    I also second his opinion on the review itself…seems that the user played with the application for five minutes or so and wrote a review. Does anyone read this stuff before it gets posted?

  • http://pro-thoughts.blogspot.com/ Vladimir Kelman

    I own this application and use it with my Android Dev Phone 1 (HTC Dream) for a couple of months. I never had specialized GPS units.

    CoPilot is a good and useful application. has very nice and easy to read navigational maps. Route re-calculation is fast, even on HTC Dream. It worth its money.

    I think, the biggest drawbacks are bad work of touch screen with CoPilot and a lack of integration with Android (cannot use Android contacts, click on address in Gmail Message to get it into CoPilot, etc.

    It is quite big, about 14 MB or so, so I’m often getting “not enough space” notification when try to install updates.

    An interface isn’t most intuitive, you cannot edit favorite addresses, just delete old ones and add new. Still, it’s good enough overall.

    It was several times when it updated its maps for those two months I own it. Maps updates are free. Maps are accurate (in USA East Coast area.)

    CoPilot Central software is pretty bad (I’m an experienced Web developer and understand usability issues.) It is far from being intuitive. It tries to get you buying a map, despite the fact you already bought one with CoPilot (CoPilot itself does not do it; obviously there is not enough integration between CoPilot on your phone and CoPilot Central on your PC.

    Different voices in various languages are available.

    I tried to use it together with Android Music Player (start player first, then start CoPilot) and route everything to my cars FM radio through Motorola Bluetooth device. Results are not reliable… looks like it’s possible, but maybe HTC Dream just doesn’t have enough resources for running two apps at the same time.

    It crashes sometimes, loses GPS sometimes. Not often, though.

    During voice calls it mutes itself, if I’m not mistaken. So, you cannot speak and use it at the same time.

    It would be handy to be able to hide/minimize it but still hear voice command.

    Screen is never turns OFF, while CoPilot is active and not minimized. That’s good.

    GUI is slow / not responsive. Touch screen of my phone, which normally works fine, is almost not working with CoPilot. You need to press it hard again and again… very bad and dangerous if you are driving at that time. May force you to stop just to push a button on screen.

  • http://www.breon.com Breon

    Great discussion!
    Regarding my Home Screen, it’s some OpenHome theme. I’m not sure which one. I don’t use my G1 much anymore.

    Text-to-speech and voice guidance are two different things. CoPilot offers voice guidance on all Android versions (“turn left” “take exit”). Text-to-speech is available on 1.6 and above. This will actually read the street names, exit numbers, and any other information coded into the map for that location.

    As with any other nav app, CoPilot is an (very) inexpensive ALTERNATIVE to purchasing a GPS unit. I would have to say that it includes all of the features of a basic GPS unit and then some. I’ve had issues with map accuracy on my Magellan. Heck, there are plenty of issues with Google Maps.

    With regards to performance, a Garmin GPS unit is built for one thing, and it does it great. CoPilot will run fine and a G1 and certainly better on a Hero. But your mobile is doing all sorts of stuff in the background. Mine is checking Gmail, Twitter, backing up data to the cloud, and jumping from cell tower to tower trying to maintain a connection. I haven’t seen any app, as intense as CoPilot run flawlessly 100% of the time.

  • Jake

    I purchased and used this app for a few days. To make it easy on anyone considering… Don’t! This has to be the worst GPS available. It seems to want to send you 10 miles out of your way everywhere you go. It crashes every 10 minutes and the interface looks like a kid designed it. It has a lot of nice features which make it seem nice, but don’t be fooled… They never work. I’d feel like I got ripped off if I spent .99 on this app. Needless to say, there is no word to describe how upset I am that I lost $34.99. And of top of all that… Their customer service is prompt to reply and say your S.O.L. Its as close to a scam as you can get. They know you wont cancel in the first 24 hours, cause you haven’t even received your activation code to try it out yet. They wait till the “refund period” is over then send it your way so you can experience the garbage app. Hope this is helpful to anyone thinking of buying this. Wait for something better…

  • Anonymous

    You know you can use it in those first 24 hours too, right Jake? Or are you just a troll?

  • gary

    I’ve downladed the usa maps for 4 hours directly to g1 via wifi, but afterwards it still does not save, pls help

  • Art

    I purchased coPilot right after getting my Droid! This was on Nov 7th and it hasn’t worked yet!! It always, after taking forever to load, not there when i try to use it. I did establish contact with them and was told how & where to get the US map & put it on my laptop (mac). Following that I connected to my laptop & cut & pasted it into /copilot/save directory, as directed! When unpacking the map file I get “one or more files could not be unpacked. The corrupted files will be deleted” followed by “No maps currently installed” I’m about at my whits end concerning this piece of crap!!!
    Art

  • tony

    if you want to throw your money away then buy this peice of crap. if you have a problem then don’t even think about wasting your time emailing or calling these morons. my only hope is that the garbage that run this operation find themselves on the street very soon.alk are scum, copilot is crap and my only hope is that the trading standards contact i have puts this crowd out of business.
    buy a tomtom, get an atlas or roll your window down and ask someone just DON’T GIVE YOUR MONEY TO ALK !!!!!!

  • davix

    people dont get a android or droid has those phones just gets you more problems. ger windows phones as they are more better and fastee……

  • http://www.coeurdeberger.wordpress.com J. Gary Ellison

    I just purchased Copilot 8 a few days ago. The interface is good, though sometimes it seems like you are going through several menus to get to what you want. I have a few criticisms:
    1. It sometimes routes you THROUGH a major city using minor routes instead of the interstate or bypass.
    2. The POI’s (points of interest) are quite incomplete. When searching for a well known POI, it simply is not listed, so you have to type in the address or intersection.
    3. My own business address is not listed: 1802 is, but not 1803.
    4. A major problem is volume control. Since I use this on a PDA, I also pipe my music into the car stereo system. Copilot 8 has no independent volume control and its own volume is set for several decibels higher than the media player, so if I turn the music up enough to hear it well, Copilot will blast me out with turn instructions! Yet, it can be muted and the media player will still work. So while I purchased this for the voiced instructions, I turn them off if I am listening to music because there are simply far too loud. This seems like an easy fix, especially since you can mute it. Why can you mute it but not lower it? ALK needs to fix this!

  • frosty

    Downloaded this app(moderators look away now) off a torrent. I’m in the UK near London and its routed through congestion zones in London,used the lorry function( drive an 18 t lorry). Plus used in France last weekend; Not a single crash or lock up. Work supplies me with a pioneer gps and to put it bluntly this works better. Might even consider buying it:P

  • Phil

    I am running the copilot v8 on my Hero and haven’t seen most of the issues listed above. I guess I am lucky. I have had it crash a couple of times but expect it was related to low memory. I do wish they would get the contacts issue fixed. I use is al the time and it gets me where I need to go. The older version I used on my WM6 phone was real bad about routing me around my elbow to get to my thumb. I recently did the 2.x update on the phone and unfortunately everything slowed down including copilot. If you have the Hero make sure you really need the update before you load it. It has made a major change in the way the phone operates, mostly slower.