Monday, November 8, 2010

gTrax Ship Tracking

Application: iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
Function: Ship tracking
Cost: Free /$5/$10
Rating: ***

Ever wished you could find out the name of that big ship sitting in the harbour? Now you can, with the use of a handy application on your iPhone called gTrax. The app collects the AIS (Automatic Information System) data from ships in your area and displays it on a nice Google map.  AIS is a system that major ships use to identify themselves to others in the area.  

  • Uses a private network of AIS receivers.
  • Displays ships on Google maps or a list view.
  • Multiple port coverage around the country.
  • Color coded ship icons detail the ships speed and course.
  • Clicking on the vessel shows information about the ship including name, destination, navigation status and job function.
  • Sorting functions allow sort by function.  It will show cargo, tankers, commercial and passenger ferry's and cruise ships.
  • It tracks any ship with an AIS transmitter.
  • gTrax offers updated information for an additional monthly fee. If you want to see updates once every 24 hours it will cost you about $5. To get live streaming data the service will cost you $10.00 per month.
Pros: This basic app is free, that is one plus. The app is very easy to use and works as advertised. The Google maps are functional easy to read.

Cons: The AIS network is not that extensive and spotty in some areas. There are only about nine ports covered in the US. Make sure it covers your area before you download it.  If you need up to the minute information it will cost you $5 per port. It would be best to install an AIS receiver on your boat if you wanted to keep track of ships in real time. Check out the Ship Finder and Ship Tracker apps. They offer up some competition to gTrax with additional features and functionality.

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