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CoPilot Premium for Windows Phone hands-on: ActiveTraffic aids your daily commute

There are plenty of GPS navigation options for Windows Phone and the prices have fallen dramatically over the years. CoPilot is a powerful, low-cost option that has helped Matthew for the past month.

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Topic: Mobility
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By default, many people with Nokia Lumia Windows Phone devices use the HERE Drive option for GPS navigation. While HERE Drive is a solid option, there are some other alternatives that provide more advanced functionality at very reasonable prices. I've been driving around with CoPilot USA Premium for a month and think it is an easy buy for $9.99.

One key difference between HERE Drive and CoPilot is the option to select alternative routes. While you can setup preferences for routes, CoPilot also provides you with route options, if available, and gives you the power to select your preferred option.

There is a free version of CoPilot in the Windows Phone Store, but that version does not provide voice navigation, 3D maps, speed limit warnings, land indicators and more. For $9.99, you get all of this, a full year of real-time traffic service, data provided by INRIX, and quarterly maps updates.

Select a destination and setup a route

Options for selecting your destination include entering an address, selecting a point of interest, selecting a contact with an address, browsing the map and selecting a destination, selecting a photo of a destination, and entering latitude and longitude coordinates. You can also use the awesome Cortana assistant to enter a destination via your voice.

If you select points of interest, you then have the option to select from restaurant, hotel, and gas station categories with Google, Wikipedia, and Yelp as search options. You can also tap on the more categories button to see more than 25 more categories.

When looking through points of interest, destinations for the different categories appear in order of their distance from your current location. This is a great option for multi-stop routes that many of us make.

After you find or enter your destination, you can select it as the final destination or as the next stop in your multi-stop route. You can also choose to call the destination or check the weather at the destination. When you are ready to go, simply tap the green GO icon. You can also select from one of up to three alternative routes before hitting GO again and getting on your way. Total time of the trip, total distance, and your ETA are all shown for route options too.

Driving with CoPilot

ALK Technologies has done a great job with the UI so that your route, estimated travel time and ETA are clearly shown on the display. You can also customize what is shown on the left and right side below the maps. A handy trafffic bar is shown on the side of the display, you can disable this too, to give you an overview of your progress and if there are any traffic or construction issues along the way.

Real-time traffic is included for a year with the $9.99 price. You can choose the distance ahead to report traffic, what interval you want traffic updated, and when to show delays so you are in full control of when data is being used to optimize your navigation experience.

My new street is not yet in the map database, it is about a year old, so CoPilot doesn't work so well at getting me out of my neighborhood. That is not really a problem though, but a bit of an annoyance and is tries to keep telling me to make wrong turns to get to where the route really starts on the first main road.

You can display maps in 2D or 3D, I prefer 3D myself, and also just view the directions with no map being displayed. Detours, overall route view, POI searches, and more can also be displayed while navigating.

If you get near your destination and then park your car, you can designate the parking spot to find it later and then switch navigation to walking for that final bit of help to reach your final destination.

There are a ton of available settings to customize your navigation experience, check out a few screenshots in my gallery, and one of the most useful for me is the speed limit. Here in Washington State, our highway speed limits change all the time, including into Seattle where there are dynamic speed limits set by DOT that are dependent on traffic loads and more.

I am not a fast driver so I set speed limit warnings to go off when I go 5 mph over the limit. I also select to have the speed limit appear on the display so I don't have to worry about trying to figure out if the highway limit is at 55 or 70 since they change often along my regular route.

GPS navigation software is useful even for daily commuters when there is a commute option and CoPilot has that. Even though you know the route, with the ActiveTraffic service you can have the software check your commute for traffic and keep you updated with route options. You set the time and days of your commute and let your Windows Phone do the rest for you, which is how it should be.

Options to control the experience

You can share your route with people, fully control your cellular data usage, select your units of measure, and much more within the settings.

Fuel prices is shown as a feature upgrade, but I could never get that to show me what the cost was or choose to enable that option so can't comment on the cost or usefulness.

Full offline maps and navigation is provided and I thoroughly enjoyed the interface of CoPilot. For some reason, I have never fully embraced HERE Drive so it is great that there is a low-cost, fully functional alternative like CoPilot Premium.

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Set your destination

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Directions can be shown without the map, notice the side traffic bar too

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Landscape works well for car mounts

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2D maps are available, but I prefer the 3D view

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Finding a restaurant to visit

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Current speed is shown on the display

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Some route options

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Setup your vehicle preferences for the best route

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The MyCoPilot settings page

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Download options for offline navigation

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Backup to CoPilot's cloud server

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Find POIs

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Know when you are exceeding the speed limit

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Your cellular data usage is under your control

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Commuting may be why you use CoPilot daily

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When do you want to turn?

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How early to you want to know of upcoming turns?

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The map style is up to you. Auto mode works great too.

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Fuel price is a feature upgrade, but I couldn't get it to work

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Several options are available for your selected destination

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Route overview in landscape

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CoPilot wasn't always on its game in new neighborhoods

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3D view as you navigate

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Nice big buttons on the main driving menu

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Select what you want to see in the side info bar

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