Saturday, November 23, 2013

Navionics In App Purchases - Welcome or Nuisance!

Does anyone else feel like they are being nickel and dimed to death by Navionics these days? They have recently come out with several in app purchases for additional features for the app.  When I buy an app I expect all of these features to be part of the app. I don't like the idea of having to keep paying once I purchase an app.  I understand Navionics marketing philosophy on this. Let's sell them a base app and then offer all these other features to generate additional revenue.

I am usually a pretty positive guy, so I prefer to look at these additional features much like an ala carte menu. I am free to pick and choose only the features I want and don't pay for the ones I don't need. I guess no one is making me purchase these additional features. The base app will work without any of these additional bells and whistles.

I bought the Navionics USA HD app for my iPad a few years ago and have used it extensively. I paid a premium of $49.99 for the app. It is the most expensive apps I own. Then they started with the add on features which they make available through in app purchases. 

First they added the Nav Module which should have been included in the original price. They charge $4.99 for this iPad upgrade. Next came Auto routing for $4.99, Advanced Map Options for $4.99, and last Navionics Plus for $24.99. 

Lets take a look at each of these to see if they are worth the additional investment.

The Nav Module is one of the new features that is definitely worth the $4.99 price.  It offers more advanced route planning with ETA, distance to arrival, heading to WP and fuel consumption.
In their quest for a better routing solution Navionic's introduced the Nav Module.
Nav Module was developed to enhance the route creation and trip information of the Navionics apps.  It provides the user the ability to easily create routes consisting of multiple waypoints.

A route can be created by tapping on the Route selection at the bottom of the chart. Use the crosshairs to create the starting point for your route. Additional intermediate waypoints can be added to a route by simply tapping the route segment. Routes have the option of being reversed. You can create up to 99 waypoints per route on the map and save up to 1000 routes.

Once you are on a route, hold your finger on a waypoint to adjust it's location. Indicators show you the present leg of the route, the time and distance to the end of the route. Additional route details on the information bar at left show your estimated time of arrival, distance to arrival, heading to waypoints and even fuel consumption.

Auto Routing is another in app purchase that will cost you an additional $4.99.  It appears to me that you will need the Nav Module before this Auto routing feature will work.  This is a new feature to help you quickly create routes with multiple waypoints automatically. It requires that you enter some boat data including draft into the app. Select your destination and with a tap on the map and it will chart your course.  There are all kinds of disclaimers so I would be careful using this feature.  Most of the time the route created will be less than optimal. The user will have to go in and edit each point manually to optimize the route.

As I see it, this feature is not really needed because you can quickly do this all by yourself in the Nav Module. Simply analyze the chart and place waypoints manually where you want them. Pay attention to depth, course and other possible obstructions while creating the course. I would rather create the route myself and not rely on the app to create it for me.

Advanced Map Options gives you even greater control of your map display. This upgrade will cost you $4.99 also.  It adds additional controls to the Map Options page.

Selections include Highlight Shallow Area, select Depth Shading, filter Depth Contours, adjust shoreline to selected Water Level, view Seabed composition (select areas) and toggle Fishing Mode to locate key fishing areas.

If your a fisherman it may be worth it to have these additional features to show detailed depths. As a sailor of power boater, I do not see much advantage to having these features on the chart.  Most of the time I am just concerned with channel marker and making sure I have enough depth beneath my keel.

Navionics+ is the latest offering of the in app purchases.  This purchase will get you complete chart updates for a period of 12 months.  This will be a reoccurring yearly fee if you want your charts up to date. Many apps provide free chart updates which is what many of us have come to expect. Navionics strays from this model and is now charging for updates year after year.

You also get their new SonarCharts.  SonarCharts is an HD bathymetry chart that reflects up to date water depths and contours. SonarCharts is not currently available for Canada, South America, Greenland, West Africa, India, China, South East Asia and the Pacific Islands or the Bahamas. Again, I don't see the need or a benefit to view bottom detail and sea bed contour details. Not all areas are covered so check the Navionics website for details in your area.

All Navionic's users can contribute to the updates of the Sonarcharts. Anyone with a sonar device can record marine depth data and upload the data to the website. The revised charts are then available within 24 hours.
This whole process of crowd sourcing data seems like a great idea.  It does however cause me some concern. How do we know the data being recorded is right?  Someone with an inaccurate depth sounder might be off several feet causing the rest of us to run aground using the updated chart.  I am sure Navionics has a process to verify the submitted data before it updates the chart. Crowd sourcing data is a great idea as long as the data is vetted for accuracy before use.

Navionics is one of the leaders in the marine industry and continues to provide innovative solutions to charting like the Navionics HD charting app.  Let me know if you are using any of these in app purchases and what your experiences have been. I would love hear from you!

~~~ Sail On ~~~ /)


  1. Being that you've personally used Navionics HD a lot, would you say that you like it better in any way than iNavX? This year we're bringing our 1983 S2 9.2C into the digital world, mostly because our existing instruments have issues and are long discontinued. Plan is to go with a new Garmin nmea 0183 tri transducer (D/S/T), a Digital Yacht WLN10, and an ipad. The Simrad Wheelpilot accepts nmea0183 as well, so the hope is to have all of our instruments, charts, and autopilot control from the ipad!

    Thanks for writing this blog. Very helpful!

    1. Thanks for checking out the site. I own an S2 sailboat also. They were the best build production boat ever built if you ask me. Good luck on the rehab.

      Navionics is great but it will not control your autopilot or display your ships instruments. iNavX however will display NMEA 0183 or 2000 data and it can control your autopilot too. I would recommend this app over Navionics. See this YouTube video.

      The SEAiq is another app that will display a wide variety of instruments along with AIS data. Check it out here:

      Good luck on the refit. Let me know what you decide. It is always great to hear feedback.

      Sail On

  2. Amazing information in this blog here that is truly glancing over the every aspects of topic.

    HGH Fragment

  3. I agree, I do not like too many additional requests of money. I prefer pay once, max one more, and have what I need.