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CoPilot Live: an RV-Aware GPS for Mobile Phones and Tablets

August 19, 2012 by Chris Guld · 10 Comments  
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by Jim Guld, www.geeksontour.tv

CoPilot Live Premium, North America Maps $14.99 for iOS and Android. For complete pricing and map availability, visit their website at www.copilotlive.com. There is a free version, but it does not offer voice-directed turn-by-turn instructions.

Technology can make travel a richer experience. Teaching technology to travelers is what Geeks On Tour is all about. We have been using GPS for navigation since we started RVing back in ’03. Keeping up with this stuff is a full time job and we love it. Visit us at www.geeksontour.tv.

Our Advice

Don’t get rid of your paper maps and atlases. Do get the CoPilot Live app for your mobile devices – we like it! It is available for Android phones and tablets, iOS iPhones and iPad 3G/4G, Windows mobile, and laptops, too. Be sure to read thru the excellent user guide available on their website under the Support menu.

clip_image002ALK, the company behind CoPilot has been in the business since 1979. They know what they are doing, and they do it well.

I first got the CoPilot app for my Droid RAZR phone and used it in our travels from Louisville, KY up through New Jersey, New York, and New England. While in Vermont, I bought the new Google Nexus 7 tablet. The main reason for getting the tablet was for navigation. This review is based on those 2 devices.

Stand-alone Dashboard GPS navigation tools have been around quite a while, and they still have their place. More and more I see them being replaced by general purpose devices like smartphones and tablets running navigation apps.

The Big Picture, Planning Vs. Navigating:

Size matters. So does distance. I still like planning our trips using a laptop and a combination of Microsoft Streets & Trips, Google Maps, and paper maps. The big laptop screen makes it easy to see and the information available is unprecedented. Navigation using the laptop requires a GPS receiver and a secure place to mount the laptop. It is much easier to mount a mobile device running CoPilot for navigation. I have decided that for me, the 7 inch screen is ideal for trip navigation. I attach it to our dashboard with a simple strip of Velcro.

I still use the free Google Navigation with voice search on my Droid for around-town driving, finding restaurants, stores, etc. It is always with me.

The Nexus 7, with its superior resolution, Android 4.1 OS, reasonable price, and responsive touch screen is a great way to go. And, unlike other Wi-Fi only tablets, it includes the GPS receiver. More on the Nexus 7 in an upcoming review.

Though you can use the app right after downloading, you will want to customize it for best results. Spend some time with the settings for the Map Display, Guidance, Traffic, Speed Limits, Language & Voice, etc.

clip_image004Vehicle Preferences are especially important for RVers. Height restrictions and Propane restricted tunnels are nice to see and are usually available only on higher end GPS units. We entered our RV height at 12’ 6” and it properly routed around some low bridges but not all. Admittedly, we’ve never seen so many low bridges as we did in Connecticut, none of our devices or other resources showed all of them.

The Pros: Almost too many to list. Here is a summary.

  • Great street maps which are stored on your device. No need for a data connection while navigating.
  • RV aware settings for height and propane.
  • Excellent spoken turn by turn directions – short and clear. Visual cues on the screen are easy to follow.
  • Trip planning is easy. Alternate routes are suggested. You have complete control to drag your route to exactly where you want.
  • Choice of 2D and 3D views, with or without directions on screen.
  • There are multiple ways of adding a destination. You can select a contact from your address book, pick a location on the map, input lat/lon coordinates, and even use a geotagged photo.
  • Price. It is inexpensive if you already have a device. It is worth buying a device just to have the app.
  • FREE Quarterly Map Update for All CoPilot Live Premium Android and iOS Customers

The Cons:

  • Sound is not as loud as most dedicated dashboard units. You can use Bluetooth or cable to your radio, if so equipped. I think I will get a new dashboard radio with Bluetooth capability for better volume.
  • The onscreen keyboard is flakey. Strange things sometimes happen when using it for input. Occasionally typing an entry just won’t work at all – pressing search enters your typing twice, or adds extra characters. This can only be called a bug. I have seen this mentioned in other reviews.  This needs to be fixed.
  • Discrepancies in maps and directions. No GPS Navigation or map is completely and absolutely accurate. This app is better than most, it did correctly route us around some low clearances, but not all. We are using the CoPilot Live Personal – not CoPilot Live Truck, which is available for $149. There is a way to send corrections to CoPilot. On their website, you’ll see a link to ‘Submit a Map Improvement.’ They guarantee that the corrections will be made within 45 days.

In conclusion, this is a great app for navigation and planning on your smartphone. It is even better on a tablet like the Nexus 7.

A Short Video Demo of CoPilot Live on the Nexus 7 Android Tablet

This tip brought to you by Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as using smartphones, managing digital photos with Picasa, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger. You can subscribe to our free enewsletter, or become a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

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Comments

10 Responses to “CoPilot Live: an RV-Aware GPS for Mobile Phones and Tablets”

  1. steve jones on August 19th, 2012 5:31 pm

    Why is the Blackberry not supported by apps like these? It is so frustrasting to learn that these new apps only work on droid and iphone.

  2. Gary Capen on August 19th, 2012 7:06 pm

    This app is ok but if you really want a quite resonable app for your iPhone I would recommend “MotionX GPS Drive”. Read the reviews about CoPilot Live before purchasing.
    I have used MotionX for several years now and the latest version shows the speed limit and your speed. It is accurate as well. Don’t discard your paper maps and books but it is by far better than any other program I have used.

  3. Ron Butler on August 19th, 2012 8:30 pm

    Jim,

    Based upon your review and recommendation, I ordered it for my Android. Really got lost on how to download it to the phone! Not sure what happened, only that it hasn’t seemed to have shown up on my phone yet! Any suggestions? I left them a message, but 48 hours to respond?!?

    Thanks,

    Ron

  4. Cliff on August 19th, 2012 9:17 pm

    @Jim
    On your phone, go to the PlayStore.
    Search for CoPilotLive.
    Select it and Install it.
    Thereafter, download the Map Areas you want.

  5. charles hester on August 20th, 2012 12:23 pm

    I just downloaded CoPilot Live free version to check it out, on my Android phone. Plan to get a tablet soon and will upgrade, by meantime the free version does not show a “vehicle” option to enter vehicle clearance. Just an FYI.

  6. Ron Butler on August 20th, 2012 12:31 pm

    Thanks, that’s what I should have done was to go to the play store. Instead I ordered it off their website. I have finally stumbled along and got it installed and activated!

  7. Paul LeSage on August 22nd, 2012 12:48 am

    Jim,
    Before you pop for a new Bluetooth dash radio, you might want to try some of the methods used to connect iPods in older radios without the AUX input. There is the fake casette and the wireless FM unit.
    Just got a Nexus 7 after reading your article, but it does not show a Premium North America, only Premium USA

  8. Tobey Yadon on August 24th, 2012 8:47 am

    I use Streets and Trips for my planning as well. How do you get your route into CoPilot?

  9. abercrombie uk on September 3rd, 2012 10:11 pm

    Per non essere dentro il capire il più delle volte, sono propenso a non gradite i messaggi su questo tema progressivamente ulteriore considerazione si sta scrivendo in modo, inoltre, i mezzi personali, dobbiamo dire che è davvero uno di quelli da ricordare bella pubblicazione.

  10. The Unemployed Mom on September 4th, 2012 11:59 am

    Excellent Site…

    Very good written information. It will be valuable to anybody who utilizes it, as well as yours truly :) . Keep doing what you are doing – can’r wait to read more posts….

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