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ALK CoPilot Live Premium Review

Pros

  • Live features
  • Traffic option
  • Great value

Cons

  • No IQ Routes or similar
  • Navteq traffic not as good as TomTom HD traffic

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £29.99
  • Drag routes to change waypoints
  • Bing Local Search
  • Wikipedia location search
  • Facebook and Twitter integration
  • ActiveTraffic for £9.99 a year

ALK is one of the longest-running players in the sat-nav app business. CoPilot Live dates back to before the sat-nav became a separate device. CoPilot Live Premium is the second incarnation of CoPilot since it crossed over from Windows Mobile with version 8 to the current leading smartphone platforms, Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android. It’s a major overhaul, both in its interface and underlying functions. This week we took a look at the iPhone incarnation, although the Android version arrived first and there’s an iPad build too, for those who fancy a 10.1in sat-nav screen.

CoPilot Live Premium was previously announced as version 9, and the annoying news for owners of the previous edition is that there is no upgrade offer available. With such a major update, this is likely to be a major irritation. The changes are obvious right from the more aesthetically pleasing startup splash screen, and the map is easier on the eye too. The menu still pops up over the map, but here again the design is much more graphically streamlined than before.

There are a number of enhancements to the routing capabilities. You could already navigate to a full UK postcode, which is a premium addition for Navigon’s iPhone app, although it’s also a standard feature on TomTom’s app. Routes can be calculated for recreational vehicles, motorbikes, bicycles and walking as well as cars. But you can also now navigate to a GPS-tagged photo stored on your phone, which might actually prove useful considering the iPhone camera app tags its photos automatically.

An absolutely unique feature is the ability to browse the calculated route and drag it to another waypoint, or away from an area you wish to avoid. CoPilot then recalculates an appropriate new route. It’s not necessarily a feature you would use every day, but certainly handy if you want to avoid an area or go a specific way, perhaps through the city suburbs instead of out to the ring road.

You can also ask CoPilot to calculate an alternate route, whereby it offers three choices. ALK calls this Personal Routes, and it functions in a similar fashion to Navigon’s MyRoutes, letting you select an option which will suit your driving style. ALK has followed another trend and now lets you save your current location as a parking favourite. This is helpful when you park on the street and need to find your way back to your vehicle again later. Allied to this is a “Take Me to My Car” option, which loads your saved location, switches to pedestrian mode, and starts routing you in the correct direction.

You can choose to be notified of speed limits and safety camera locations, and you can even select how far over the limit you will allow yourself to be before notification, just in case you think you can get away with it. In fact, CoPilot offers much more configuration than other sat-nav software of parameters like how far in advance you want to be warned of your next turning, although this is nothing new with this version of the app.

ALK CoPilot Live Premium

Another set of features CoPilot Live has been well endowed with for a number of versions – the clue is in the name – is its interactive live services. As before, this includes traffic updates, which have now been renamed ActiveTraffic, and only cost £9.99 a year. The traffic information is from Navteq, but in our testing didn’t cover as large a percentage of routes as Tom Tom’s HD Traffic, missing problems on some A roads.

Following the trend towards social networking, ALK has added connectivity with Facebook and Twitter, allowing you to auto-post your destination on both services when you set this up, as well your arrival, although the actual posts are a bit meagre. So your feed will say you’re heading off to ‘London Road’, without any greater detail. But you can also call up a list of Facebook Places your friends have recently checked into, allowing you to navigate your way to meet them. It’s nice to see a practical use for Facebook Places, but we suspect only a small minority will ever actually use this feature.

CoPilot Live Premium can also allegedly list petrol pumps by price, but this feature is clearly not set up for the UK yet, since we were only offered locations in France when we searched from North London – unless ALK is deliberately protecting us from the horror story which petrol prices in this country have become. There’s a five-day weather forecast, although this is less useful on a smartphone than a standalone sat-nav, as you can look up the weather independently with an app or website, which will probably offer more detail, too. It will be most handy for checking the forecast for a destination, so you can pack your mack if rain is likely, or not go at all if a snowstorm is brewing.

ALK has taken a particularly novel approach to finding destinations online, eschewing the ubiquitous Google Local Search and opting for Bing Local Search instead. Even more unique is the ability to search for nearby places of interest that happen to have a Wikipedia entry. You get a picture and a description, with entries ranging from nearby landmarks to roads with medieval backgrounds and disused railway stations. Essentially, this acts as a slightly oddball user-generated tourist guide, which is potentially quite fun if you’re visiting an area for leisure purposes. When acccessed via the More menu, Wikipedia can only search the current vicinity, not an area of your choice. For the latter you need to use the POI destination menu option.

ALK CoPilot Live Premium

The navigational experience is not significantly different from CoPilot 8. Next turnings are announced verbally, but not the actual road. Text-to-speech is allegedly a feature of CoPilot Premium, but it didn’t appear to function during our UK-based testing. Perhaps it will be enabled in a future update. Full-screen graphics appear at complex motorway interchanges, which ALK calls ClearTurn, offering guidance as to which lanes you should be in, as well as the signposts you should be looking out for. However, ALK doesn’t have a technology such as TomTom’s IQ Routes, so doesn’t use historical traffic data to estimate real average road speeds. The result is that you tend to be sent via the nominally faster A roads rather than back streets. This has been the traditional sat-nav strategy, but non-A roads may actually be clearer of traffic and quicker in some circumstances, as taxi drivers will attest.

Verdict

CoPilot Live has consistently given you a lot for your money, and the new Premium version is no different. Coming in at £29.99 for the UK and Ireland version, and £59.99 for the iteration equipped with European maps, it’s £20 less than TomTom’s iPhone app and £10 less than Navigon’s. The interface is much more streamlined than before and CoPilot is now easier to use. Despite the improved traffic system, it’s still using TMC information, so can’t compete with TomTom’s HD Traffic for serious jam avoidance. But this is still an immensely good value smartphone sat-nav app, and now even better than before, making it well worth considering if you’re not an everyday commuter.

Trusted Score


Score in detail

  • Value 10
  • Features 9
  • Performance 8
  • Design 9

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