CoPilot Live HD North America is an app that is designed to take the large screen of the Apple iPad and turn it into the perfect navigational aid. It requires 1.32GB of storage space and works only with 3G-enabled iPad devices. CoPilot Live HD is currently available for $29.99 from the Apple App Store.
Once you purchase and install the app on your iPad and run it for the first time, you will be prompted to select your language and then choose from one of three included voices for your guided navigation prompts. You will also be asked to login or create a new CoPilot ID, and then choose whether you want to use English or metric measurements. After the obligatory “Using this product while driving can be distracting and dangerous. Please exercise caution and common sense in its use and operation” disclaimer, you’re ready to go.
Features and Controls
CoPilot Live will find your exact location very quickly, in just a few seconds, and you’ll be taken to the main screen where you can access some of the most commonly used features of the app. Destination is where you choose where you want to go, by entering an address manually, search for a point of interest, choose a contact, tap on the map, enter an intersection, or even use coordinates. My Places is where you can save your home and work addresses, as well as recent destinations or places you’ve previously marked as favorites. Settings is where you’ll access all of the different options for the app, and Mode is where you choose whether you’re driving, walking, or riding a bike.
The Settings area of the app can be almost overwhelming at first, because you can control virtually every single aspect of the app. Some of the options are obvious, of course, but not all. Custom routing allows you to choose whether you want to favor or avoid highways and toll roads, secondary streets and local streets, along with your preferred speed. You can choose to take the scenic route wherever you go, or the fastest and most efficient route.
Traveling in an RV? You can choose to avoid propane-restricted tunnels. You can choose several different map color schemes and views, such as “heading up” or “north up.” You can also choose which categories or points of interest you want to display, and whether you want alerts when they appear on or near your route.
I took several trips with CoPilot, of varying lengths, and found that the mapping and navigation results I received were always accurate. There weren’t any major issues with being taken out of my way or by illogical routes. I also tested the point of interest feature, and was very pleased to find that the results I received, while not as accurate as the mapping information, were very good.
Restaurants that opened within the last month or so weren’t in the database, but that’s a relatively minor quibble when you consider how detailed the POI information is. You’re not just searching for a restaurant, but for a type of cuisine.
Calculating local trips generally took no more than two seconds, and longer routes of more than five hundred miles were mapped out in no more than ten seconds. GPS fixes were almost instantaneous. There aren’t any problems with recalculating your route either; I intentionally went off course several times just to see what would happen, and CoPilot Live was able to recalculate and get me back on track very quickly, with a minimum of extra distance or time.
I was especially pleased by how CoPilot handles complicated trips with four or five waypoints. Adding stops is as easy as tapping your way through the easy to follow menus, and you can reorder the stops if you change your mind about where to go when. Save a particular trip if you’re just planning it out for future use, or if it’s a trip that you’ll be taking several times.
You can preview the turn list or turn maps, so you’ll know exactly what to expect before you get started. And if you have several places to go, but don’t know how to create the most efficient route, CoPilot Live will do that for you as well, with one tap on the Options button and another on Optimize Stops. You can also choose to factor in fuel costs or rest breaks if you need to stop every so often and stretch your legs.
Ease of Use
CoPilot Live is a real winner in this category–it’s so simple that even a perpetually lost, GPS-challenged soul like me can use it with no trouble whatsoever. All of the options (and there are quite a few) are laid out logically, and the app asks me for my preference when I do something that doesn’t make sense. A perfect example of that is laying out a route to visit my friend in Tennessee when I’m in walking mode; a box pops up and asks me if I want to switch to another mode of travel.
Some things work best if your address book is fully up to date, because visiting a friend or business colleague takes just a few taps if their address is already in your contact list. Even if it isn’t, you can still enter addresses manually.
There are other more expensive and less expensive navigation apps available in the Apple App Store, and considering some of their free or extremely low prices you may wonder if it’s worth it to pay $30 for this one.
My opinion is that the answer to that question is yes, because you do get what you pay for. CoPilot Live is a fully featured GPS application, not just a basic map with a few extra features thrown in for good measure. It includes monthly map updates, weather information, and a 30 day trial of the ActiveTraffic service.
CoPilot Live HD has a larger price than many navigation apps available on the App Store and has a larger footprint as far as data storage is concerned, but it works so well that I can’t imagine any serious traveler or corporate road warrior would want to be without it. If you have a standalone GPS device in your car already, get rid of it–sell it or give it away. If you’ve already made room for an Apple iPad in your travel bag, don’t rely on the Maps app that came with your device. Sure it works well, but it doesn’t have anywhere near the flexibility or power offered by CoPilot Live HD. It turns the Apple iPad into the true GPS navigation device it wanted to be from the very beginning, and is an excellent value for the price.