ALK CoPilot Live 8
Mobile phone satnav done right
Android App Review With the launch of HTC's Hero, and with other Android phones from the likes of Samsung looming on the horizon, it seems the perfect time to take a gander at ALK's CoPilot Live 8 satnav software, which is now available for Android and the iPhone.
Despite costing just over £25, CoPilot has all the features that you'd expect from a modern satnav. Mode of travel can be set to either car, bike, motorbike, RV – which presumably will take you across someone's lawn in case of a traffic jam - or foot, while the maps can be viewed in either 3D or 2D. You also get a feature called ClearTurn which displays "realistic" 3D representations of motorway junctions.
ALK's CoPilot for Android: good feature set, good UI
Finding a location is straightforward and can be done be keying in an address, a post code, co-ordinates, points of interest, geotagged photographs or by manually selecting a point on the map. The postcode finder is particularly easy to use and comprehensive.
The bundled maps include the position of all know speed cameras and you can alter the distance at which you're warned about them. The extent to which you can exceed the speed limit before being warned is also adjustable – or you can just the turn the function off.
Running CoPilot on a HTC Hero, the UI was slick and responsive, and the maps and vocal guidance easy to follow. Route calculation was commendably brisk, especially the recalculations that took place when we deliberately tried to confuse the system. If the routing system isn't as smart on paper as the latest from the likes of TomTom it does the job.
Tells you what lane to use on motorways
The maps swap promptly between portrait and landscape when you tilt the phone over, and the system has a handy 'hide' feature which gives you access to your phone's other functions without having to quit CoPilot.
The established Windows Mobile version of CoPilot offers users live traffic updates and live fuel price data, and ALK tell us that both these features will make it to the Android version later this year at the cost of a £20-a-year subscription.
Other free 'live' features include Local Search which pulls information from Microsoft's Live Search system to find your nearest coffee shop or ATM, Live Weather and Live Link, which lets you see the position of other CoPilot users you have set up as 'friends'. As a final bonus, ALK give you a choice of six free voices.
Some, but not all, of ALK's Live services are included
There is one slight hitch if you are using CoPilot on an Android handset which is also running HTC's TouchFlo interface. Exit from CoPilot and try to use the touchscreen immediately afterwards and TouchFlo will crash and lock up the screen.
It only took a few minutes for our Hero to realise something was amiss and ask us to force quit TouchFlo and re-start it – but not the phone itself – so it's not the end of the world. You can avoid this bother by simply putting the phone onto standby when you quit CoPilot then unlocking it a few moments later. Another minor irritant is the virtual keyboard which is laid out alphabetically rather than in Qwerty format.
Twenty-five quid is good value for a fully functioning satnav system for a phone. The essential navigation part of the package does everything that 99 per cent of users are ever likely to require, while the various 'Live' features are a handy addition. ®
ALK CoPilot Live 8
SatNav on Phones Evil, SatNav OK
Well it is according to the NZ government which is outlawing the use of SatNav on phones in cars. From www,stuff.co.nz,
"The Transport Ministry has clarified the terms of a new law that restricts the use of cellphones in cars, saying that from November it will be illegal to use a mobile phone as a satellite navigation aid while driving...Under the new law, that would be illegal, Transport Ministry spokesman John Summers confirmed. "The Road User Amendment Rule 2009 means drivers will not be able to look at a navigation aid on a mobile phone when driving, even if it is mounted on the dashboard. "You can use a mobile phone held in a cradle while driving, but only to make, receive or terminate a phone call. You cannot use them in any other way, such as reading a GPS map, reading email or consulting an electronic diary."
The restriction does not apply to navigation systems that do not have a mobile phone function, he says...
Great software at a low price
I've had CoPilot on my G1 Android phone for a few months now, having previously used an earlier version on a windows mobile for a few years.
Version 8 is a great improvement on the earlier versions, and it works very well - smoothly and quickly - on my G1.
The price is a bit of a bargain, but that does mean I have to agree with Andrew Macrobie above, in that tech support/customer service leaves a lot to be desired. I waited well over a week for an answer to a problem I was having, before taking matters into my own hands and completely uninstalling, deleting any trace of it from the sd card before reinstalling from scratch. I still haven't had any response to the ticket I opened on their support system. Poor show. Telephone support is better, but then you're paying for that in call charges, and there are times when it is much easier and more convenient for end users to communicate asynchronously via email rather phone conversations.
But I have to repeat that it's very impressive software that works pretty faultlessly.
In response to a comment above, mine has never lost its gps signal. Nor do I find any inconsistency in "just ahead". You set what "just ahead" means in distance and/or time, and Emily keeps to it.
I like having the ability to select different map colours, including a British one (i.e. motorways in blue, not orange ...)
Agree it's a shame it doesn't make use of the compass.
I have four corrections to make to the review:
1) as already noted, the keyboard is now qwerty
2) on my G1 I've never seen a display of motorway junctions/lanes like the photo-realistic one shown. I get clear lane indications across the top of the screen, but the map view remains.
3) there is only one voice available out of the box. You have to choose a voice at installation (unfortunately without being able to preview), and only that one is installed. I see there are now additional voices available to download, but I've not yet succeeded in installing them, and life's too short to try to contact ALK support for advice on something as trivial as that. "Emily" works fine for me.
4) The hide function doesn't close CoPilot, that's true. But my experience has been that running other things on the phone, having minimised Copilot, does sometimes close CoPilot - when you restore it, it goes through the whole splash screen startup, but remembers the journey you were on. Sometimes it does just restore though.
Sadly they aren't straight ports though, i've experienced the TomTom on a friends iPhone and it was appalling... the Navigon and CoPilot applications seemed a lot stronger - hence wanting some clarification if possible.
Having used CoPilot before, i was also impressed so may go with that anyway - seen as it's the cheapest anyway!!