I am 24 total satellites that circle the Earth, 3 of which are backups. You rely on 3 of these satellites to use me. I was developed in the ‘70s by the US armed forces to replace an inaccurate and unreliable Transit System. I was opened to the public in the ‘90s. I am accurate to 10 meters, or 33 feet, using wide area argumentation. Each of my satellites has a NUDET system built in to sniff out nuclear weapons. What am I? My name is the Global Positioning System. You know me better by my simple acronym: GPS. GPS has been around for well over 40 years now believe it or not, and this technology hasn’t failed us yet hardware wise, but has come very close. However, the hardware is just half of the story as the software is what will allow you to actually use GPS. There are many GPS apps on the App Store, and many of them are extremely expensive; some upwards to 100 dollars. Being the cheapest one on the App Store, CoPilot Live works really well with a massive set of features, a respectable GUI, good audio, plenty of reuse value, and definitely a decent bang for the buck. Read on for the rest of the review:
Before I continue, I would like to specify that this app was tested using an external GPS from the TomTom cradle on the iPod Touch 4G (Yes, it’s compatible with a cheap and quick mod). This app requires a GPS connection to function at all. Internet is required for some features. Different GPS sources (phone, external, or both) will provide different outcomes in some cases.
CoPilot brings to the ball game just about every feature in the book that all the big guns bring with them. The software isn’t perfect, but we don’t expect it to be. When you start the app, you are greeted with an agreement screen that tells you to be careful when using it to drive. I would like to double emphasize this as well. A GPS system is not to be used to replace driving and your own good common judgment, but to supplement it.
The GPS system does have many very common features that you would want in a GPS to begin with. CoPilot can run off-line for the majority of its features. However, some do require internet to be used. Here is a small breakdown of the main features included:
- Navigation: Well, this one should be expected. The navigation on this is actually really nice. It is accurate and will get you there on time, but not always in the fastest way possible. The turn-by-turn directions can be phonetically spoken to you by a voice that speaks out street names. However, it won’t say the name of a street if it has an associated number to it. Route 38 for example is Roosevelt Road, it won’t say Roosevelt, but will only say 38.
- Active Traffic: This is a paid feature that allows you to see the traffic in real time. It is nifty and can be used to get around the traffic instead of going through it. Internet is required for this.
- Weather: This is something else that is useful. The weather around you can tell you, especially on long trips, what storms are brewing. At some times, it may become more useful to hit a motel than to continue driving. Internet is required for this.
- Points of Interest (POI): CoPilot included a huge list of POIs for you in this app, which is really useful since you don’t need internet to use this feature. This list does need some updating since there are some restaurants that should be in the list, but still useful nonetheless. For POIs that aren’t on the list, you can search online for them, this obviously requires internet to do.
The Points of interest are nicely sorted out into categories for you.
PhotoNav: You took an awesome photo, but want to see it again in person… Well, PhotoNav will actually navigate you to the location where the picture was taken assuming it had GeoTags on it.
- Speed Limit: Are you a lead foot? I’m not, but this nifty tool allows the GPS to warn you when you are driving 10 MPH over the speed limit. If you don’t want to get annoyed, I suggest you turn it off before your iPod comes out and punches you to slow down.
The two features show above are the picture navigation (left) and speed limit (right) features. Both of these are smaller features, but useful in some cases.
Now, these most certainly aren’t all of the features, but the main ones. Many of these features are on most of the other GPS apps as well. With the immense feature set, I would say CoPilot definitely did their part to make sure you had the features your GPS needed. Some of these features, weather and traffic the main ones, are subscription services though, so you have to pay for them on a timely basis. Navigation and voice is free on its own. One thing I did find missing that the older version of CoPilot had were music controls. This is something that I desperately need while driving. If this app does have them, I couldn’t find them digging through the settings and app while tearing it apart.
With a good feature set to start it off, CoPilot also does include a graphical interface that doesn’t have a big learning curve. The user interface isn’t entirely Apple-esque, but it is driver friendly, for the most part. So let’s start with the menus. The menus are actually really simple. On the home screen you get basic info on the bottom of the screen along with buttons to get to the main menu and the driver quick display. Once you get used to it it’s really useful.
The home screen is really simple and straight forward.
The popup display while driving has all your basic operations, a music one would be really nice.
The menus are actually sorted out really well, and it only took me minutes to adjust to the changes from the old CoPilot app to the new one. The old app was plagued with some of the most complex menus and large learning curve; this app seems to have fixed that. There still aren’t music controls, which is something I want and need while driving.
Once you are in the menus, they become more of the Apple standard.
The app offers lots of fun graphics that work well together and are soft on the eyes. The maps are probably one of the most important parts of the app. The map graphics aren’t the best, but they aren’t the worst. Users do have a choice of what theme the map follows. You also have the choice of having night and day maps that automatically set themselves based on time. The maps can be viewed in 2D and 3D modes.
The maps have both 3D and 2D options, a standard for today’s GPS.
Overall, the graphics work really well together and I really wouldn’t change anything, except for adding music controls to the menus and popups.
Almost as important as the graphics and features on a GPS app is actually the audio setup provided by the developers. Although most apps can have no audio for all I care for, GPS apps need it for voice guidance. Without it, the app would be a glorified version of the dreaded Maps app.
Users get to choose the voice of their GPS and there is a decent selection, however, only one voice does text-to-speech. This voice is softer, but clear enough to understand the street names it says. It works well though and will get you place to place. The guidance is perfectly fine and really the only part that needs rating. The menus have beeps if you are into that. Not much here, but the important ones are covered.
Now, the great set of features, good graphics, and ample audio normally lead to almost perfect reuse value. Well, most of the time it does… Remember earlier when I said that you should use GPS as a supplement? Well it strikes again here, in a more literal sense. Let me tell you a small story:
On one of my test drives to my college that I attend, I did run into a few bugs. So let’s start with the first of three, the worst of the set. It told me to take right turn from Saint Charles Road to Main Street. This isn’t the problem. The problem is that you can’t take that turn since it’s unlawful. I already knew that, but the GPS didn’t. I continued on my way and it did recalculate my route for me, a good, handy feature. After a while it told me to go down a one way street… In the wrong direction. That’s the second strike. These two were the biggest errors I ran into. The third thing was that a street name was off. It called the whole street one name while the street did change names mid-way through. These were the only bugs I ran into, and they only occurred sparingly.
With this story in mind, I would like to stress again to use any GPS as a supplement and don’t ever let it cloud your common sense. Otherwise you can end up like this or this… One small other bug I saw was that when I searched for a Chipole and tapped on one that as in Illinois, it guided me to one in Wisconsin..
The upcoming turn on the top is not possible to make without going through a road sign and the street on the bottom was named incorrectly (It should be Geneva and not W Washington).
Now, these were the only things I ran into, but they can become small halts in making you trust the GPS. 99% of the time, the GPS worked properly like it should. I myself will continue using this app when I do need directions since I do know it will get me from one place to another correctly. This app is bugged, but bugs can get fixed.
Coming around 25 dollars, this app is pretty expensive. It’s a good upgrade to the old CoPilot app, but I don’t think the price justifies the upgrade price they are asking for. The upgrade is 5 times the price of the original CoPilot app, although the text-to-speech addon did cost a little under 5 dollars. The little bug I ran into with the new app also does startle me a bit, since they were there in the old CoPilot app as well. Overall however, with the updated maps it is still competitively priced compared to its other competition, CoPilot is still at least half the price. The app will get you from point A to B like it says and it will speak out streets for you. At the end of the day that’s all that you need.
Although it does have a few bugs, I ask the question: what doesn’t have a bug? Yes, bugs are inconvenient. However you shouldn’t be following orders from any robot blindly without using your own judgment. Things just turn out bad that way (look at links above). The fact of the matter is that this GPS app does exactly what it was intended to do, get you from point A to point B and it does it in a good way. It expects the worst and is ready for it, and honestly, that’s all you really need in a GPS app. If you are navigation-impaired, this app will serve you wonders; it has already done so for me.
I’d like to thank CoPilot for the promotional code.