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News

CoPilot Live Premium review

One of the most comprehensive satnav apps for smartphones

Considering that every Android smartphone comes equipped with a copy of Google Maps with turn-by-turn navigation, a satnav app that charges £25 for a single region needs to be good to warrant the purchase. CoPilot Live Premium is that app.

In truth there’s no real comparison between this and Google’s free effort. That will get you from A to B well enough, but CoPilot does indeed feel premium in every sense and for serious use is way ahead of the competition. This applies even with the most fundamental functions: the robotic voice directions are notoriously poor on the Google offering, but here you get a choice of voices that are all natural-sounding and easy to hear on the road.

Similarly there are general performance issues too, as the Google maps need to be downloaded over the air as you drive – and even though there is some intelligent caching functionality in play, it is no substitute for having an entire region’s map loaded up on your memory card. Even the areas where Google is traditionally strong, such as local search, are matched through the integration of Bing search from Microsoft into CoPilot, enabling you to locate businesses or services in your area.

After downloading the app from the Market, you need to get the maps separately as part of the setup process. The UK and Ireland region is a sizable 261MB download, so you’ll need a Wi-Fi connection – it took us a couple of attempts to get it, as the first one stalled – and note that it will probably also take you past your 15-minute refund period from the Market too, so there’s little chance to try before you buy here.

The user interface in CoPilot Live Premium is now thoroughly refined in virtually every area – this is the ninth version of app across multiple platforms, after all. It is designed to be picked up and used with the least amount of interaction possible.

Simply type your destination address and you’re away. If you want, you can delve into the settings where you’ll find plenty of options. These include the ability to quickly change to alternative routes, as well as some subtleties, like being able to view points of interest on the screen only when you’re not moving, leaving the map view free of clutter while you’re actually driving. You can also select your destination through other means, including the Bing search, your contacts, points of interest, favourites, photos with geotagged data, or you can simply tap on any point of the map manually.

The map views are clear and well presented. You can view your directions on 2D and 3D maps and also use a couple of safety screens that hide the map altogether and flag up your next turn clearly in large bright text. You can also view live traffic information along your route, although that costs an extra £9.99 for a year’s subscription.

Testing an early version of the app, we did find the occasional bug, although subsequent updates will no doubt quash those. But overall we were impressed by CoPilot Live Premium, and regular users of satnav software will no doubt find it is excellent value for money.

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