If you’re planning to squeeze in one more roadtrip before the summer dwindles out, you might be shopping around for GPS navigation apps. Google’s own Navigation for Android may do the trick, but is there still a market for traditional GPS nav apps? One of the many options available is CoPilot Live, and you might be surprised at how deep its functionality runs.
CoPilot Live does a great job of maximizing in-car visibility with large icons, text, and graphics. he app icons all have a distinctive style with a white outline that vaguely reminded me of Gowalla, and a wide variety of map styles (including evening-optimized versions that don’t ruin your night vision). Flipping from screen to screen has lively, smooth animations.
There are some really nice subtle touches throughout the CoPilot Live, like a randomized message on the welcome screen, customizable info bar on the navigation screen, and a ton of different voices to read directions while you drive.
Some things feel like a little overkill. For example, does the app really need its own custom volume box? By default, CoPilot Live takes up a spot in the notification tray for access to the app, but I don’t see that as any easier than simply going to the multitasking menu.
I had no issues whatsoever with the core navigation of CoPilot Live. It guided me to and from the cottage last weekend without any problems. The view can be quickly switched to a 3D map, 2D map, large text with the next turn, or a longer detailed turn-by-turn list. It’s easy to find alternate routes, and you can set the app to automatically suggest new ones if traffic looks like it’s going to slow you down more than 10 minutes than originally planned. Favorite destinations can be marked for easy access later on, but there’s also a rich points of interest database that can pop up on the navigation screen when stopped, or you can launch into a Google or Wikipedia local search for more results.
CoPilot Live has a nearly ridiculous depth of options. You can set it to provide audio warnings when you’re going over the speed limit. There are custom default vehicles, including RVs, so you can avoid routes with user-set height restrictions. You can save parking spots to easily find them later. It almost feels like every time I diving into the CoPilot live settings menu, I find something new this app can do.
There are plenty of more frivolous additions, such as Twitter and Facebook tie-ins so you can automatically share when you reach a destination, although that should probably be implemented as trip-by-trip pop-up rather than an always on/off function. Geotagged pictures can also be viewable on the map, if you want to document a particularly scenic drive.
One anomaly I experienced with the app is that CoPilot Live doesn’t identify itself as a native GPS app, like Google Maps. This means that it’s hard to launch into CoPilot from outside apps, even though CoPilot pulls in from multiple sources itself. For example, users can navigate to contacts from within CoPilot, but not from the native address book.
- Massive amount of functional options
- Clean, visible UI and layout
- Casual drivers likely to be perfectly happy with Google Navigation
- Doesn’t identify alongside other maps apps
I’m still not convinced that Google Maps and Navigation is so much worse than paid alternatives like CoPilot Live. The $9.99 pricetag plus the additional nikel-and-diming for extra voices, access to additional maps, gas prices, and live traffic data are all a significant turn-off given Google’s generally-acceptable experience.
Constant drivers that need extra functionality than what Google can offer are likely to find their needs met by CoPilot Live, but for those that regularly bounce between the same three spots probably don’t need to spend any money for a day-to-day navigation app.