Friday, March 21, 2014

Transas iSailor 1.6 New User Interface

Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch. requires iOS 6.1 or later
Function: Marine Charting and Navigation
Rating: *****
Cost: App is Free, Charts sets $4.99 to $39.99

I spotted the Transas iSailor app years ago when it first came out.  I was one of the first to blog about it back in 2011.  It looked promising and the developers have continued to add valuable features to the app ever since. The latest addition is the New Graphic user interface. They initially started out with an icon menu at the bottom of the screen which was very intuitive.  They then moved to a bubble menu.  I was never too fond of the three bubbles menu at the bottom of the screen. I could never remember which bubble did what.

The new graphic user interface (GUI) is much more user friendly and I found it way easier to use and find all the features needed to create waypoints, routes and tracks. The new AIS WiFi functionality can be purchased for another $9.99 with an in app purchase. I like the feature but not the price. Seems a little high compared to other apps with similar features.

  • Positioning system: iOS GPS, cell tower or AIS Class B
  • Display of charts, routes, tracks and User Objects
  • North Up, COG Up and Route Up chart orientations
  • Information on vector chart objects
  • Free cursor, Point-To-Point and Own ship referenced ERBL functionality
  • Navigational data: Position, Course (COG) and Speed Over Ground (SOG)
  • Route creation by the graphic and tabular methods
  • Bearing to WP, Distance to WP, XTD, Time-To-Go and ETA
  • Time-To-Go and ETA to any selected waypoint ahead
  • Prompt return to the current ship position
  • Custom Track colors
  • Day and Night chart colors
  • Alarm monitoring functionality
  • Route, Track and User Object Export/Import via GPX, KML and KMZ formats
The new user interface has menus on the right of the screen that can be dragged out to view and access features.
Settings Page:
Tap the Gear icon at the bottom right of the screen to access all the app settings.  Settings include Charts, Sensor and AIS. The AIS features require an in app purchase of $9.99.
Additional setting for boat, alarms, import and export. Routes can be exported in GPX, KMZ and KML formats.

Charts can be purchased from within the app. An extensive list of charts covering many areas of the
world are listed for purchase. Demo, Paid and Premium paid charts sets are available. Charts can be found by using the search feature, tapping on the area where charts are required or selecting a chart folio to purchase.

Tap the Purchased Chart section to view the chart folios that you have paid for. Update to the charts appear to be free.

Routes, Waypoints, Objects and Tracks Page:

Tap the next menu above the Settings menu to show the Routes, Objects and Tracks.  Routes are selected in the shot to the right. Tap any route to start navigating. Detailed information about the route including total distance, average speed, time of departure, time to go, time of arrival, fuel consumption and estimate consumption are all calculated for you.

All the Waypoint data for a route can be viewed from this section also. Routes can be modified, reversed, exported and deleted. Select the Tracks button at the top right to display or delete the recorded tracks.

Routes are easily created by tapping the Create New Route bar in the Routing section.  A Red Flag will show the waypoint location, move the flag to the desired location and press the Green + sign.  Continue tapping the screen to add additional waypoints to your route. Tap the black check mark to delete the waypoint.

Tap the line between waypoints to add an intermediate waypoint. It is a little awkward to begin with but after creating a few routes I quickly became proficient at creating, and editing routes.

Objects can be created by tapping on the screen once to place a mark. Tap the cross hairs mark to show the latitude and longitude of the object. Tap the right arrow and the pencil icon next to select the parameters for your object. A pop up box for the symbol with come up. Tap the Waypoint line to change the object to a Text, Depth or Point of interest. The object icon can be changed to an obstruction, a wreck, buoy or service.  A list of your Objects will be displayed in the right column.

Select the Tracks button in the top right of the Routes and Waypoints section to display your saved tracks. Track name and color can be edited to make them unique. All details about the track including points, start and stop times, duration, distance, top speed and average speed are calculated.  Tracks can also be exported or deleted from this section.

Navigation Monitoring Page:

 Tap the Wheel icon to enter the navigation mode. The night mode was selected from the settings to change the chart to a darker background. 

The compass rose icon was selected to display the compass on the page. Drag and drop the compass anywhere on the chart with your finger.  The compass rose shows the north up, course up or route up configurations. The Red arrow shows the course and the black arrow shows the bearing to the next waypoint.

Back on the display at the top right you can select the orientation and view the COG and SOG readings. Bearing and distance to the selected waypoint in the route is shown along with the cross track error.  Time to Go and Estimated Time of Arrival are also calculated along the route.  At the bottom of the display Track recording can be started and stopped.

iSailor is becoming a very polished marine charting app with all these latest additions and the sleek new user interface.  I am encouraged that they have now added AIS and WiFi connectivity to display my ships data.  Next I would like to see some added weather features including, NexRad Radar, GRIB wind strength and direction, tides and currents. Google map overlays would be nice to confirm shallow areas with chart data. 

I like the update of the user interface and I am encouraged that iSailor continues to improve this app. They have developed a good following among boaters so this can only help cement their place in the Marine Charting App area.

~~~ Sail On ~~~ /)


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