How useful is truck GPS on an iPhone?

You might have heard of a navigation app now available for iPhone users that is aimed at the truck GPS market. The CoPilot Live Truck GPS-nav app is similar to other turn-by-turn navigation devices (such as Garmin, TomTom or Navman) but comes equipped with routing that complies with the relevant road restrictions based on the vehicle’s size, weight, width and load type. It claims to be compatible with the iPhone 4, 3GS and 3G, as well as the iPad 3G.

Would you use it, and why it might not be as useful as truck GPS navigation device should be?

PNDs for Truckers – What do they want?

With so many different devices available for truck drivers it can be confusing knowing what’s best. Sometimes it’s easier just to choose something a buddy has recommended or that runs on your phone, like an iPhone app. But this is where it’s important to take a step back and look at all the options.

It’s not just about thinking about your requirements as a driver, which might relate to the navigation device’s screen size, audio quality, view quality, POI detail or route accuracy, but it’s also important to consider the needs of the fleet business, or if you’re an owner-operator then how your PND should be part of a more comprehensive management tool, such as fleet tracking software.

You need more than just a dashboard device

Your iPhone is great for playing Angry Birds or replying to tweets on Twitter but aside from the smaller 3.5” screen size, it doesn’t do the whole job needed for navigating and managing your truck routes. There’s more to it than that and as we’ve discussed before there are plenty of truck GPS options out there.

Getting turn-by-turn directions is fine, but if that’s all you’re getting, even if it is complying with road restrictions, then there’s a lot you’ll be missing, particularly if you’re operating as part of a fleet. Telogis Route, for example, is part of a complete suite, or platform, which provides truck drivers with turn-by-turn directions following required road restrictions, but also coordinates that with other drivers in the fleet, preventing unnecessary miles and promoting better asset utilization, a key factor in keeping the fleet profitable.

Telogis Route can take a lot of the brain strain out of planning routes before you even leave the yard, basing route optimization on a wide range of factors including customer requirements, other drivers and their stops, as well as hours of service and efficiency. With some clever workload balancing and route optimization it then creates the turn-by-turn navigation needed by the driver, exporting it to their PND running Telogis Mobile, software that is compatible with a big range of in-dash devices.

Ready for total fleet management?

So while an iPhone app might be all you need right now, don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger and upgrade to a full fleet management solution. Most fleets report that the savings they make in the first four months pay for the cost of implementing it – positive ROI in around 120 days is good news, whether you’re a driver, fleet manager or owner it all adds up to a more efficient and profitable trucking business.