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With so many navigation apps available, many for free, it may be difficult to imagine paying for one. But ALK Technologies makes a reasonable case for its CoPilot Live Premium app. Its most compelling feature are the full set of maps it includes, making it possible to navigate without a data connection.
Most people using a smartphone for navigation will be doing 95 percent of their driving in an area with data coverage. But the most critical times for a good navigation app come out on back roads, far away from cell towers. Likewise, high data roaming charges in foreign countries can make online navigation impractical.
Those full map sets do, however, make CoPilot Live Premium a hefty app, weighing in at 1.8 gigabytes for either the European version or the USA and Canada version. Not only will the app require plenty of free space on a smartphone, it also means a lengthy install time, up to 15 minutes on an iPhone. But along with maps, CoPilot Live Premium includes a large points of interest database.
CNET tested CoPilot Live Premium Europe during trips to Ireland and Switzerland. The app provided very useful driving directions, and also includes a walking mode, which came in handy during strolls around urban centers.
The most difficult thing about the app, and our main criticism, is the unintuitive nature of the interface. On initial use, we often found ourselves unsuccessfully looking for a menu item or option setting we had stumbled across previously.
On first launching the app, it offers the options to add a destination or view the map. CoPilot Live Premium includes both 2D and 3D maps. For destination entry, you can use an address, search the points of interest database, browse the map, or select an entry from the phone's contact database. One of the more interesting features is the ability to choose a destination based on a geo-tagged photo from the phone. However, there is no option for entering a destination based on an intersection.
You can enter multiple destinations for a route, and adjust the order of the waypoints. Or CoPilot Live Premium can organize them for the most efficient routing. Once the app has calculated a route, you can adjust it by dragging the route on the map screen, but this procedure does not work well given the size of smartphone screens.
The app really likes to hang onto the routes it calculates, which can be very annoying. To have the app stop route guidance, you have to drill down a few menus, choosing the edit route option, and delete the destination. Every navigation app should have an easily accessible button that cancels or pauses route guidance. To make matters worse, by default CoPilot Live Premium enables background navigation, continuing voice prompts even if you shut off the app, which will burn through a smartphone's battery pretty quickly.
You can, however, turn off background navigation. There are quite a few more settings to further customize CoPilot Live Premium, such as telling it how many prompts to provide before a turn. Three is the default.
We found the route guidance very able. It shows helpful graphics on the screen in tandem with its voice prompts. When possible, it reads out the names of streets for upcoming turns. Driving through the many roundabouts in Ireland, CoPilot Live Premium did a good job of indicating which exit we should take.
Also helpful is a speed limit indicator. By default, the app is set to provide an audible warning when you exceed the speed limit. It can show the current road's speed limit, although that option is turned off by default.
CoPilot Live Premium offers many other features, some that rely on a data connection. It has a traffic module, and its points of interest database is supplemented with Bing and Wikipedia local search.
Now Includes 12 Months FREE ActiveTraffic service as standard!CoPilot Live is the original high performance GPS for smartphones. And now CoPilot Live Premium brings you navigation that's even further ahead. "CoPilot Live provides the best blend of features, performance and cost" Engadget "If you are looking for an excellent GPS navigation solution that supports offline maps then you should consider CoPilot Live for your iPhone" - ZDNet "CoPilot Live Premium is a very competitive nav program at a low price" - TUAW FASTER, SMARTER, EASIER NAVIGATION CoPilot Live Premium equips you with a unique range of advanced features to help you enjoy a better journey. Unique interactive route editing: tap and drag to change your route or destination Lane indicator arrows, highway exit sign info and realistic ClearTurn view make highway exits and interchanges simple Full turn-by-turn guidance and clear pronunciation with the latest Text-to-Speech voice technology Powerful pre-trip planning and route calculator gives you a choice of three routes to take PREMIUM OFFLINE MAPS WITH FREE UPDATES Complete map of USA stored on your iPhone, so you can navigate without a mobile signal or using up your data plan. Exclusive ALK MapSure service provides free monthly in-app map improvements and full quarterly map updates Navigate directly to a house number, address book contact or even a geo-tagged photo THE SAFEST GPS ON THE ROAD Quite simply, no other app offers this level of safety. Unique directions-only driver safety mode only displays a map close to turns for minimal distraction Automatic day-night mode switching reduces screen glare Speed limit warnings on primary highways FREE TRAFFIC SERVICE TO AUTOMATICALLY AVOID DELAYS ActiveTraffic scans your route for traffic delays and automatically provides a new route if it saves you time (12 month subscription included as standard). Provides the fastest route based on real-time traffic speeds from INRIXAutomatically calculates a quicker route if a significant delay is detected LOCAL KNOWLEDGE, EVERYWHERE CoPilot Live provides instant local knowledge to guide you to any destination in car or on foot. Integrated Wikipedia and Bing Local Search give you a built-in guide for everywhere you go Walking Mode Just tap on the map, POI, street, restaurant, gas station, etc. for instant directions PLUS ALL THE FEATURES YOU EXPECT FROM A PREMIUM GPS APP 3D and 2D map views trip status display - instant detour in-app music controls - favorite and recent destinations personal routing options avoid toll roads Twitter and Facebook status updates find my car local weather information - and much more! Follow us on Twitter @copilotlive_us Like us: facebook.com/copilotliveusa NOTE: Continued use of GPS running in the background can dramatically decrease battery life Notes about optional subscriptions. Subscription automatically renews unless auto-renew is turned off at least 24-hours before the end of the current period Subscriptions may be managed by the user and auto-renewal may be turned off from your iTunes Account Settings after purchase Account will be charged for renewal within 24-hours prior to the end of the current period
What's new in this version:
Exciting News: Free Traffic Service & New Maps!This is a major app update that gives you 12 Months of ActiveTraffic service for FREE plus a complete new set of updated maps featuring our latest 2011 Q4 map data. ActiveTraffic is a real-time traffic service that helps you find the fastest route through traffic every time. If you already have an ActiveTraffic subscription, well add an EXTRA 12 months on top of your existing subscription!Also in this update: Additional performance and stability imp... See all new features »