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CoPilot Live Premium is a very competitive nav program at a low price

ALK Technologies today released a completely new iPhone Navigation app called CoPilot Live Premium. It's quite full-featured, yet for this week, the app is offered at the low price of US$9.99.

Here's a rundown of features. The maps are self-contained, which I think is required for the most reliable performance. Maps can be displayed in either 2D or 3D. A text-to-speech function includes street names and a choice of voices. You can set speed limits to get warnings when you exceed posted limits, and lane indicators help you navigate complicated intersections.

There are nice little touches too, like walking directions, a car finder to show you where you parked, and up to 3 alternate routes to choose from when choosing a destination.

The CoPilot app offers add-ons, like Active traffic at $9.99 a year, and fuel price information at $4.99 a year. The traffic service seems a little pricey, since it costs the same as the whole app on sale, but it is in line with some of the competition. Navigon, for example, offers traffic for $19.99, but it is a lifetime subscription and much less costly in the long run.

Using this heavily revised CoPilot app was a good experience. I found the GUI to be responsive, and the on screen GUI is much better looking that the old CoPilot app. Maps were detailed, the voices were clear, and there was a choice of voices. I preferred British English, which somehow made me feel a bit classier as I drove around my dusty neighborhoods in Southern Arizona.

One thing I didn't like were the constant warnings when I clicked on some feature that was an in-app purchase I hadn't bought. I've written before that I am increasingly unhappy with apps that need a lot of extra purchases to make them fully functional. At the very least, I'd like to see companies offer a low bundle price if you add everything that is available.

Comparing this app to my favorite Navigon app here's my verdict: The maps are much improved from the old CoPilot app, and the screen controls are more intuitive. I'd put it on a par with Navigon. Voice quality is about the same on both. Navigon USA offers Google search, while CoPilot offers Bing. Navigon feels a bit more polished, but, at least during the CoPilot sale, Navigon USA is $40.00 more expensive.

CoPilot Live Premium will return to $24.99 when the sale ends in 7 days. That's still less costly than Navigon, but when you factor in a lifetime traffic subscription and the ability to add 3D terrain maps on Navigon, the comparisons get more complicated. Navigon also offers the Zagat guide as an in-app purchase for $7.99, and warnings for speed cameras at $4.99. There is a competitive product from TomTom at $49.99 as well, plus several others.

Because CoPilot Live Premium is a new app from the ground up, there is no upgrade path or discount offered to owners of the older CoPilot products. CoPilot Live Premium doesn't replace the older products; instead, it stands alongside them, at least for now. ALK has come a long way with its GPS iPhone product line. If you jump at the sale price, it is a full-featured tool that will satisfy most of your navigation needs. Even at the full retail price, it is a completely competitive product.

You can see some CoPilot screen shots in the gallery, and feel free to let us know your experiences and your thoughts on iPhone navigation apps in general.

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