Interview with ALK Technologies, Developers of CoPilot Live
Jan 15, 2011 9:00 AM –
We had the awesome opportunity to interview Dan Popkin, Vice President of Sales at ALK Technologies. CoPilot Live is one of the many navigation products they develop for consumers world-wide. Here’s a little more information about the company:
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Our company is based in Princeton, NJ. We’ve been in the business of transport software for over 30 years. I’ve been with the company 10 yrs primarily responsible for sales within North America and Europe, our two largest markets. We’ve had tremendous volume in Europe although we’re expanding in southeast Asia, New Zealand, and Australia. Android is the key market for us in the US.
Why did you create CoPilot Live?
ALK Technologies uses computers to figure optimal routes. That was how it all started. CoPilot Live implements that same concept in it’s software. We develop transport software for rail, commercial trucking and passenger cars. We develop address level routing which is key for navigation. CoPilot Live originally launched in New York City 13 years ago. Mainly, we just want to help people get from point A to point B.
What technology did you use in creating your CoPilot Live and why?
All technology is developed in Princeton including the routing software, engine, and street level map database. Everything stays internal.
About how long did it take to create your App?
It was always a long term vision to develop a product like CoPilot Live. We always thought about it and kept working towards achieving that level. It was a matter of natural evolution of our software.
What is a cool uncovered tip or trick you can do with the App?
With version 8, we spent a lot of time with UI. The idea was to make it useful but simple. Navigation should be as simple as “1-2-3”. We brought that to life by making a navigation software that you can use 3 commands and your up and running. Also, we moved some features to back menu and kept the more important ones up front. Here are a few gems hidden in the application:
- Stop optimizations: Default commands lets you put more than one stop into CoPilot. Optimized command will keep your end destination fixed. It will also automatically re-sync stops to create efficient routes. This is great for any consumer: soccer mom, business traveler, livery services.
- Concept of personalization: Your able to change the colors, map styles, custom route profiles..basically anything you’d like. Personalized routing is the idea. Feel free to set your own average speed and preference for road categories. Give calculated estimated arrival times and fuel usage based on MPG for your vehicle that you set.
- Method of travel: You can use this in your vehicle or as a pedestrian.
- Tools for pre-trip planning: You can plan your trip before you even hit the road. Feel free to sit at home and develop your route for the next day or a route you use often that you can save and re-use as many times as you like.
These are just a few to highlight. There are plenty more!
Can you tell us about future feature enhancements with your App?
We take feedback from our customers. These are our direct areas of focus. We’re constantly improving the software creating new features and implementing customer feedback.
Some areas we’re looking to improve on or implement:
- Live connected dynamic and locate aware content
- ActiveTraffic, fuel and driver safety
- Map Sure: ALK program proactively contributed to underlying map. If a road or map needs to be corrected, consumers can submit changes to be made. Map corrections are redistributed within 45 days guaranteed. Submitted through CoPilot Live application, built into the UI.
- Truck version of CoPilot to launch sometime in the future. Height, weight, length and width restrictions included.
- Engagement with app stores: We were the first on-board navigation app on the Android Market and we’re broud of it.
What did you really like about creating Apps on the Android platform?
CoPilot started on Windows XP. It was pre-installed on laptops some Dell laptops. We moved to Windows Mobile on Casio pE1000. Doing so created category that never existed on Windows Mobile before.
After 3 months, we ported windows mobile versionto Android. Right away we saw it as a very compelling platform. Things just continued on from there.
What are some things you would like to see improved with Android?
Issues within platform. Despite the tremendous benefits for being involved in Android, the biggest challenge in fragmentation. Too many devices with different versions to create development issues.
Hopefully Google in collaboration with handset manufacturers can do something to minimize that going forward.
If we had to do it all over again despite the fragmentation, we absolutely would do it all over again.
What is your opinion of the Android App Market’s distribution method? In comparison Apple’s model (strict control over the iTunes store) or the Windows Mobile model (no store at all).
Rock solid. From our perspective, the Android market is the 2nd most developed application channel for smartphones today. The distribution and application mechanism is fantastic. We no longer launch an application and focus on the next version. We have teams that are dedicated to the ongoiong enhancements of the current application while other teams work on the next version of the application.
- Support of additional support options to add functions at the push of the button.
- Single sign-on single ID.
- Simpler billing options.
- Desktop interface to the Android market.
- Operator billing integration.
The advantage of the iTunes is that you can go through the Appstore at the convenience of your own home.
Must-have Android Apps?
- Flight Track Pro – track a flight, email internaries
- Angry Birds
- Google Sky Map
- CoPilot Live
How do you feel about the growth of Android vs iPhone and other mobile platforms?
Thrilled about it. Navigation would make most sense on powerful devices. We’re thrilled to see the type of magnanimosity of the Android platform because it helps to extend our reach. The price elasticity and sesnsitivty in Android allows us to create some exciting opportunities to create promotion price campaigns and holiday promotions.
Keep on the look out for new and exciting features and promotions from CoPilot Live! Be sure to check out our review of CoPilot Live.