Review: ALK CoPilot Live 8
One of the most well-established and popular names in the field of smartphone navigation, CoPilot Live has returned with a new look, some new features and a new price
One of the most well-established and popular names in the field of smartphone navigation, CoPilot Live has returned with a new look, some new features and a new price.
Version 8 is available for Windows Mobile smartphones, and is also essentially the same as the recent Android version (although that lacks live search and text-to-speech support).
CoPilot Live 8 is not a massive leap forward from version 7, although since it is now available as a download it comes at the kind of price that makes it highly appealing to existing users if only to get the latest maps.
There are some significant changes, of course, including a refined interface, lane guidance and local search. The software now also supports text-to-speech, but this is an optional extra.
The key to CoPilot Live 8 is to provide the kind of experience you would expect from a dedicated satnav device on a smartphone. We were testing on the Toshiba TG01 and with that device’s huge 4.1″ display it was indeed indistinguishable from the best of the PND market.
The UI throughout is clear and easy to use. There are numerous ways of plotting a route, from entering an address of postcode to choosing a nearby point of interest or even using a geotagged photo. The menus are easily accessible throughout, with the key functions, such as map views, mode of travel and voice command function accessed straight from the map screen when driving.
We’ve always been fans of CoPilot’s performance in use. It chooses sensible routes, based on distance, time or economy, and presents the directions clearly when on the road.
You get a selection of voices to use, and they are all clear, audible and human, unlike the often robotic voices you get on other systems, and you can customise the distances at which you are warned (and rewarned) of upcoming turns.
One of the areas where satnavs stumble is when you have to make two turns in quick succession. Here, your next two turns are displayed on the screen so you never have any surprises as you drive.
The software runs in portrait orientation by default – best suited to the walking mode – but by switching into landscape mode you have access to a customisable display that can be tweaked to suit both your usage preferences and screen size.
In landscape mode you can use a full screen map view, offering clarity of vision on smaller-screened smartphones, or use the various split screen settings for greater control over the information that is displayed. You can have a third of the screen showing your next turn; or half showing your next two turns; or a full screen showing the next few turns.
On motorways, landscape mode will also give you full screen lane assistance. The implementation impresses, matching the best we’ve seen on personal navigation devices.
What CoPilot has ahead of a PND, of course, is access to your mobile internet connection. Tap the Live Services button and you can perform a local search via Windows Live with fully functional results: search for a type of restaurant and they will be listed in order of proximity, and you can navigate to one, or call ahead all from within CoPilot.
Other Live services including the ability to share and track locations with fellow CoPilot using friends, to get live traffic information or locate the cheapest nearby petrol stations. Some of these require additional, but not excessive, costs.
Naturally all these Live elements come in addition to the usual points of interest database, which can be configured to show up on the map as you drive past. Even here there have been a few tweaks to the presentation, with select company logos now showing up instead of generic icons. It’s a very small touch, but surprisingly fun.
There’s a lot more to CoPilot Live 8: a real walking mode that will route you through pedestrianised streets; reality views in the form of road signs on motorways; a Quick Stop feature that will divert you to the nearest petrol station or cafe.
It’s a powerful piece of software, and with wide compatibility across Windows Mobile devices and a new ultra-competitive price point it becomes even more appealing. As long-time admirers of CoPilot the latest version gives us no reason to change our view that it is the most complete satnav package for smartphones.
Map coverage: UK & Ireland
Popularity: 1% [?]