Gadling gear review – CoPilot Live for Android phones

In this Gadling gear review, I’m going show you CoPilot Live for Android. CoPilot Live is a navigation software package for Android powered phones like the T-Mobile G1 and MyTouch 3G or the upcoming Sprint HERO.

The software turns your Android powered phone into a full navigation system with text to speech, offline maps and traffic information.
The Interface of CoPilot Live is very easy to use, and it makes use of large icons, making it easier to use when you are driving (not that you should be controlling your GPS unit when driving!).

Since the best way to show off an application like this is to show the product in action, I’ve made a bunch of screen shots that show the interface and its various features.

When planning a route, you can select 5 different modes of travel – by car, foot, RV, motorcycle and bike. Each mode will pick a different route, appropriate for the selected transportation method. This means you won’t be routed over the highway if you want to walk to your destination.

Picking a destination can be done by address, point of interest, manually on the map, by intersection, by photo or by coordinates.

The PhotoNav feature is pretty slick – it allows you to pull up a photo and navigate to it. This requires the photo to have geotag locations embedded in it.

Destination entry is quick and simple – CoPilot Live uses its own onscreen keyboard instead of the Android keyboard.

As you type, the database shows locations that match your entry. As soon as you see the one you want, you tap it.

Once you have found your required destination, you can call before navigating to it, which is especially handy if you are just looking for a nearby restaurant or hotel and want to know whether it makes sense to make the drive to it.

Before you actually tell CoPilot Live to start navigating, you can get a quick overview of the route it picked. This is great if you’d like to make modifications to the route it selected, or if you’d like to be 100% sure you picked the right destination.

Once on the road to your destination, you can view the map in several ways – 2D, 3D, “Safety view” (which shows very little distracting information) and itinerary view.

3D maps are vibrant and show just the right amount of local information. You can also increase or reduce what is shown on the map, making it just right for your personal preference.

The “Live” part of CoPilot Live refers to several online services offered within the application. Live Traffic offers real time traffic on your route, or any other location covered by the CoPilot traffic information network.

Live Link allows you to share your current location with other CoPilot Live users, though obviously only those that you have selected.

And finally, Live Weather shows the current and upcoming weather conditions of your destination city, as well as any location on your route.

The CoPilot Live premium services cost $19.95 per year, and include traffic information and fuel prices.

Traffic information can be viewed as a reference, or used in order to recalculate your route, should you come across nasty traffic, detours or accidents.

Final thoughts

It should be obvious from the photos that CoPilot Live is a really impressive application. It offers all the features you’d expect from a high end GPS unit, including text to speech and automatic rerouting, along with up to date maps and an extensive point-of-interest database. And in addition to all this, it also provides online services, making the most of your smartphone.

But by far the best part of CoPilot Live is the price – at just $34.95, it is more than 5 times cheaper than a standard GPS unit. You’ll find it in the Android Market by searching for “CoPilot”.

Getting CoPilot Live on your phone is relatively easy – after purchasing it from the Android Market, you will receive an email from the manufacturer directing you to a download location. This download is for the maps required to use CoPilot Live. By installing the 2GB map package, you’ll be able to use CoPilot even when you are out of range of a cell signal.

CoPilot Live for Android is a no-brainer. Obviously, if you already own a GPS unit, you may not need it, but if you are regularly on the road without one, and you own an Android phone, then it really is worth the low purchase price.

I couldn’t find any downsides to the program, other than an occasional slow performance on my T-Mobile MyTouch 3G. Sadly, some Android phones are delivered with a limited amount of memory, so it can really help to install a task manager to “kill” as many applications as you can before starting CoPilot.

The only other issue is heat – if you have CoPilot running for longer periods of time, your phone will get hot, and you really will need a car charger cord if you plan to use it for more than a couple of hours. Other than that, the application is easy to use, well written and its routing and navigation skills are excellent.

CoPilot Live is also available for Windows Mobile and the iPhone. They also offer a desktop/laptop based version.