Can the £26 CoPilot navigation app topple TomTom?

Although these apps are all capable of basic routing, and they compete well with low-end standalone satnavs, they all have some features missing.

Can the £26 CoPilot navigation app topple TomTom?

One of TomTom’s selling points for its recent all-in-one units has been what it calls “HD Traffic”, a real-time feedback system powered by anyone carrying a phone with a Vodafone SIM in it, which enables routes to be recalculated based on actual traffic speeds. You’d have thought the iPhone with its always-on data connection would have been a perfect partner for this service, but (at least in this initial version) TomTom hasn’t chosen to include it.

Perhaps even more annoying, given the quality of the TeleAtlas mapping, is that the company has a system called Map Share that allows users to upload details of any map errors they find – if several people report the same error, it’s shared with a wider userbase – but this hasn’t yet been incorporated into the iPhone version of the software, meaning that users are limited to planning their journeys using just the base TeleAtlas data.
iPhone 3GS
TomTom does have the advantage, though, of including the company’s IQ Routes data. This adds weightings to various roads, based on how busy they’re likely to be at certain times of the day or particular days of the week. I’ve found that it often works well, although it struggles with roads that become clogged with “school run” traffic, failing to take account of when the kids break up and go back to school.

One of the main frustrations with mobile satnav units is finding and entering addresses. Entering postcodes is normally the easiest way, and both TomTom and CoPilot accept the full seven digits, which enables you to home in on a very small area.

Navigon’s MobileNavigator accepts only four digits of a postcode, which means you’ll need other parts of the address you’re heading for and you can’t plan routes using postcodes alone.

One thing that I do find a bit frustrating with CoPilot is that it uses its own A to Z-style keyboard layout rather than the iPhone’s on-screen keyboard – I really have to hunt around for letters when they aren’t presented in a Qwerty layout.

I’ve only been playing with these three packages for a couple of weeks now, so it’s early days in my evaluation, but so far I’d have to say that I like CoPilot Live. While its map display might not be the slickest I’ve seen, it does seem to be intuitive in use and seems to get the job done – and let’s not forget that it’s less than half the price of the other two products.

I’m going to continue evaluating these apps over the coming months, and I’ll also keep track of any updates and additional paid-for services that their manufacturers release: I’ll report back with my findings in a few months.

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