Boating Apps Directory
Boating Apps for the iPad, iPhone and Android
The iPad and iPhone along with Android devices are becoming more and more popular on boats. Apps for these devices cover every aspect of boating life and we have seen cases of people navigating solely by using an iPad to Hawaii, and other long distances. This may seen reckless by some traditionalists, but we can now say mobile navigation is not a passing fad. Mobile device's are becoming more and more versatile.
If you like capitalism and free enterprise you must like the apps business model. Anyone can make an app and if it has an audience and is good you can make some money. As more and more apps get released, they are growing in maturity. The demand for apps is huge and so the good developers and most popular apps are getting more and more refined.
If you are in the process of choosing an App its a good idea to check the release version. If the app has had several revisions and for example you see latest version 3.2 then you know the developer is keeping the app relevant and solving bugs. First releases often have problems.
Hard mounting the Tablet helps navigation and functionality so the device becomes part of the boat. Ram mounts adds hands free functionality but does not offer robustness or waterproofing, but for inside at the navigation station that is fine.
To protect your Tablet you can use a waterproof bag like the Aquapac or you can go all the way to a tough case which allows full functionality and can provide mounting options.
The waterproof case shown in the image provides full functionality and the attachment for a RAM mount.
And the Magellan Tough case which has its own integrated GPS
Tallon’s new Elite socket encompasses a USB port and 12 volt connector, so now you can add a ram mount for iPad and plug in without loose cables flying around.
This is where the Tablet fails in direct sunlight. The reflective screen will hinder viewing in direct sunlight. You can add shade or a cover to cut down on reflections but you will not match the best Chartplotters for sunlight viewing. Still the iPad has many benefits.
Many tablets have a GPS but it may not be as fast as a dedicated GPS. There are several options to adding GPS. One is a external GPS plugged in or via Bluetooth. The second is to bring your boats GPS into the Tablet via Wi-Fi.
Another option for the mobile is Magellan's Toughcase. The Toughcase provides protection plus it has an integral GPS. Also a Bluetooth GPS can make your day.
You can bring in GPS NMEA information from your boats instruments via Wi-Fi (see Multiplexers and Wi-Fi) below).
Adding Speed and Depth etc
Apart from GPS you probably have lots of other instruments onboard. Speed and Depth are just the start of data that can be used by Navigations apps. With Wi-Fi and NMEA apps we can bring in all the instrument data you need from your onboard systems. See Multiplexers and Wi-Fi below for options.
Boating & Sailing apps
Apps by categories
Below is a list of apps by category
- Navigation Raster & Vector Chart apps
- Navigation Chartplotter Manufacturers apps
- AIS apps
- Instruments; Multiplexers & Wi-Fi
- Racing & Sailing apps
- Navigation apps
- Cruising Guides & Almanacs
- Systems Monitoring
- Games & Education
Navigation Chart Apps
There are two types of charts, vector and raster.
Vector charts (VNCs) are digital charts made up from layers of information. You can turn on and off there layers as you need them.
Raster Nautical charts (RNCs) are digital versions of paper charts so you can recognize them by the look.
When you zoom in on a Vector chart more information is shown. Likewise when you zoom out some information is not seen, so the chart is not cluttered. However you need to be careful as zoomed out you may not see a reef which is only shown when zoomed in.
Navigation Chart Apps
Navionics; probably the most popular tablet navigation app. Navionics is a leader in charting software and the use of PC's and tablets for navigation. With their app store recording over 1 million downloads and partnerships with other companies Navionic's has paved the way in the electronic revolution.
iNavX, is a basic charting app (Vector & Raster Charts) but as you get into it there is a lot more under the hood. People refer to it as a full chartplotter. You can do all the normal things a chartplotter does lay routes, change waypoints and standard navigational stuff. Additionally you can add NMEA instrument data, AIS signals, Weather, GRIB files and tides.
Memory Map uses Raster charts and looks just like you would see on your paper chart including tidal diamonds. Download the app and then register and here you can add charts. Download the charts at home or office.
AIS automatic Identification system
There are 3 ways of finding AIS traffic in your area.
The first is an AIS receiver which will send its data wirelessly to your mobile.
Second is going oniline and using a web site like Shipfinder (shown right) which shows a map of AIS traffic in your area. This way you do not need an AIS receiver.
Third navigation apps like iNavx can also can display AIS data for you on their charts.
Multiplexers and Wi-Fi
Your boat has instruments, even if its just basic speed and depth. By importing this data to your mobile the navigation apps become much more helpful. You can use a mobile to display instrument data as seen in the image from marine instrument display Wi-Fi, seen right.
The following apps and multiplexers provide NMEA information from your boats instruments over Wi-Fi.
You will need to have your boats NMEA data on a network. The Brookhouse iMux, is a NMEA 0183 multiplexer with WiFi output. iMux Collects NMEA data from onboard instruments and sends wirelessly in a format that can be picked up by an IPad or Tablet.
You may be looking for a general weather forecast for your area or for specific data, like wind or waves.
There are also apps for tides and radar images. You may also want to plan a trip and here GRIB files let you see weather predictions over a period before and during your trip. What ever your need there is an app for that.
Racing and Sailing apps
These apps are mainly for the racing sailor, but racing rules and iRegatta can be used by the cruiser as it shows you the quickest route to where you are going.
These are not all the apps on the market, but it does represent a good sampling. By dividing the apps into categories it becomes easier to navigate through all the offerings.
i-marine apps is a site specific to app reviews.