Navigating, apps, and bandwidth

Having driving across America west twice this summer, and as someone who likes to drive because I like to go to twisty roads, I am someone who relies on maps and, these days, my iPhone and iPad for navigation more and more.

But not all navigation apps are the same, and at all times, using data isn’t always necessary.

I walked away from the Apple map app the day I got my iphone. I was late to the iphone game, having not had an phone at all for far longer than most mere mortals. (No, you can’t make flip phone jokes – I simply did not have a phone at all.) By the time I bought my 4S, Google Maps was out and was far better.

Google Maps is great – for getting from place A to place B, and when you have data. If you’re someplace remote, where there is no service, Google Maps is not your friend. Not at all. It’s useless. And if you want to travel to a series of places, sequentially, say, to go for a lovely drive through a series of twisty roads in your wonderful sports car, Google Maps is again not your friend.

But one that is, and that makes a nice compliment, is CoPilot Pro. With it, you load maps onto your device – there’s a phone version and a tablet version – and the free maps are by region, so you only load the parts you need. Buying the app will get you a year of free traffic updates, and after that it’s $10 a year, something Google does for free, but the strength of this app is that is works so well offline, it has a great address and waypoint address book you can keep on your device, and you can build routes and (yes, using locations from your saved address book) save them on your device.

This isn’t a replacement for Google Maps. This is the great addition to it. It does all of the things that I also want from Google Maps, but that I would never expect Google Maps to do.

What CoPilot Pro doesn’t do, is it doesn’t synch between your devices. You create an account and login in on your devices, and to me, it would make sense that an address book tied to an account would synch between the devices – 1Password and other apps easily do this – and that the routes I build on one device would be available on my other devices, but that’s just not how CoPilot Pro works. C’est la vie.

It’s still awesome. I still love it. It’s still worth the $, in my opinion, for the kind of wandering and car adventures I do, and for the amount of time I spend in places with little to no cell phone coverage.

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