Developer: ALK Technologies
Price: $34.99
Version Reviewed: 8.0.0.396

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★½
User Experience Rating: ★★★★½
Detail and Accuracy Rating: ★★★★☆
Functionality Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Update (9/24/2009): After discussions with ALK on the live services it appears that my access to the Live Local Search and the Gas Prices is a fluke. Those are only available as part of the $20/year Premium Live Services package. This reduces the score for the app by a little (Functionality -0.5 stars, Re-use Value -0.5 stars). CoPilot still remains the best GPS app available for the iPhone considering the price and features.

Update (9/21/2009): Note that there’s some confusion with what connected services are included with CoPilot. While I seem to have access to Live Search and Gas Prices for free, communication from ALK Technologies, the maker of CoPilot, states that these are only available with the purchase of the $20/year Premium Live Services package. We’ve been talking with PR from ALK today to try to get things straightened out and will let you know when we do.

Now the good news. You can purchase the $20/year Premium Live Services package right now to get access to Live Traffic in CoPilot Live.

CoPilotLive4CoPilot live is one of the newest contenders in the iPhone GPS arena. And I must admit that before the iPhone version I had never heard of them before. This could be why I was so pleasantly surprised by this GPS app. It’s fairly full featured, fast, and I think it’s my new favorite GPS app.

ALK Technologies, based in Princeton, NJ, has been around and doing GPS applications for mobile devices and smartphones for a while. While new to me, their CoPilot Live 8 software is available for Windows Mobile, Android, and now iPhone. When I originally looked at this app, I moved it to the bottom of the pile as I wasn’t really impressed. There were lots of menu items that were grayed out, stuff seemed to be in odd places or just didn’t work, and it didn’t seem ready. But just a couple days ago an update was released that fixed most of the issues I saw and increased it’s usefulness greatly.

This update brought some of the Live services that CoPilot seems to be known for. These include location searching which is much more up to date than the built in POI database and is useful for finding restaurants and newer businesses that the POI database doesn’t have. This updates also activates the weather and fuel prices options. Though the fuel prices isn’t useful in it’s current sparse format. I live in downtown San Francisco and the closest place with fuel prices it could find to me was over 100 miles away.

CoPilotLive10What about what CoPilot Live doesn’t have. For one, even though it’s listed (and it’s grayed out), it doesn’t have live traffic. It also doesn’t have any form of lane assist in the current version.

There are some other upgrade features listed on the web site for CoPilot that may be available in the future for inclusion in the iPhone version. This includes the previously mentioned live traffic, text-to-speech conversion of street name, and voice control. No word on if these will be available and at what cost for the iPhone. It should be noted that fuel prices are listed on the CoPilot web site as a premium service but is available free on the iPhone.

Routing was very simple and robust on CoPilot Live. It allows you to do multiple point routes, you can edit and save and load those routes, and it will also allow you to use contacts as waypoints on your route. The one little missing part is using the Live Local Search feature to add waypoints. This can be done indirectly be creating a new route with just the Live Local Search location as the destination and then editing the route, but this only works for one point and is rather awkward. The Live features need to be better integrated into the app and not just walled off on their own menu.

Once you’ve created your route you have a variety of ways to view it, turn list view, turn maps which show you 2D maps with each turn that you can page through, and a preview that you can zoom through, fast forward and rewind.

How about iPod functionality. While CoPilot doesn’t have built in controls for the iPod, it doesn’t stop your music from playing either and allows it to continue to play while voice commands are played. We would like to see it fade the music out a bit while the voice commands are spoken to make them easier to hear though.

In the end, I was very happy with this GPS app. Besides a couple small issues, this is a very good app. I think it will end up being the one I keep using. The one question is how long they will supply updates for this version, and I guess only time will tell. And what about that price — half the cost of the other GPS apps. A great deal, for sure.

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