If Apple Maps or Google Maps for iOS are not your cup of tea, fear not. There are other, low-cost options out there to choose from. The folks who make CoPilot Live Premium for iOS asked me to take their app for a spin, and was glad to take a look.
The basic app is now on sale for US$9.99, which is one third off the regular retail (the sale ends January 7). Unlike Google Maps, CoPilot Live is universal app and quite at home on an iPad. It uses Google and Yelp for local business info, making it more complete in that department than either Apple or Google. Other features include Traffic incident details along your route and on-board map and routing data, unlike both Apple and Google. You can also selectively download sections of the US to keep the apps footprint small on your device.
Gallery: CoPilot Live Premium
The screens are customizable, so you can display things like ETA or even your altitude without having to go somewhere else to look. You can also display your speed, and the posted speed limit, and get a warning if you are going over. The app supports route planning with multi-stop routes being supported.
While driving the app around southern Arizona, I found its points-of-interest database to be quite complete and up to date. The maps were easy to read, but I missed the display of terrain which is an option on the Navigon app. The voice directions were clear, and you get a choice of female or male announcements. The app even reports on the weather at your destination.
One negative, a big one for me, is that my neighborhood, which is only six or seven years old, was not displayed. Recent updates to Navigon, Garmin, Google and Apple apps had my neighborhood displayed. Happily, CoPilot Live has a built-in widget to submit map issues and the ability to add a description of what is wrong. I tried that and got a quick automated response noting that the next quarterly map update would contain the fix. That’s a nice feature I’d like to see in every navigation app.
On balance, CoPilot Live Premium is a very good navigation solution. It costs a bit more than free, but in my testing it had better POI data than both Apple and Google. Unlike Google, it could link to my address book, which kills Google Maps use for me. Google supports this feature only with a sign-in to your Google account, which seems a bit much for such a simple function. I understand Google wanting to get all my personal data, but I’m just not interested.
CoPilot Live Premium has been optimized for the iPhone 5, and requires iOS 4.3 or later. It’s a 26 megabyte download, not counting the regional maps you want on your phone. The app offers some in-app purchase, like fuel price info ($7.99 per year) and Active Traffic ($6.99 per year) but I think the app is just fine without those features.