Sunday, June 1, 2014

Navionics Boating 7.0 with Free NOAA ENC Charts

Application: iPad, iPhone iOS 6.0 or later and Android devices
Function: Marine navigation, charting, POI
Rating: *****
Cost: The new Boating app is Free with NOAA ENC charts. Optional in app purchases for chart sets and additional app features.

The Navionics Boating app was introduced a while back and I wrote about it in a blog post back in March of this year.  I confess I was a little hard on Navionics for phasing out an older version of the app that I had originally spend money on.
The big news this week is that Navonics has a new 7.0 version of the Boating app that was just released on May 29th.  This release now provides boaters with an very functional full featured chart plotter with free NOAA electronic charts.

NOAA ENC charts are vector data sets that conform to the International Hydrographic Office (IHO) S-57 standard. The new preloaded Gov charts include primary navigational data such as depths, buoys, beacons, hazards, channel markers. They provide boaters with a ready-to-use tool as soon as they download the free app. A worldwide basemap is also included.

Initially the app came with only a base map and you had to make in app purchases of the Navionics chart sets. These optional detailed Navionics charts sets will cost you from $49.99 to $64.99 for the iPad versions.

Navionics has now made the Government's NOAA ENC charts available for free for use within the app.  So if your a casual boater you can now own a full featured chart plotter app for your iPad or iPhone for free!  I have to wonder what Navionics is thinking.  They must be trying to gain market share with the freemium model and then entice users to buy the additional detailed chart sets and features with the in app purchases.  Who am I to question their marketing plan.  All I know is the Boating app is now free with some very functional charts and features.

Navionics Boating HD has many of the same features as the previous Marine and Lakes USA HD  versions.  See a complete listing of all the Navionics app features on their web site.

  • Free NOAA ENC Charts
  • Routes
  • Tracks
  • Range and bearing measuring tool
  • COG(course over ground), SOG (speed over ground) instrument display
  • Markers 
  • Weather and Tides
  • POI, Crowd sourcing edits, Fuel Prices
  • Sharing to Twitter, Facebook and via email export .kmz files
  • In app purchases for Auto routing, Advanced Map Options, Sonar Charts
  • Magazine Guides.
  • Sych Data and Synch Plotter allow boaters to share routes, tracks and data between mobile devices and chart plotters.
  • Map Types and options
  • Geo-tag photos and video
If you already own the Navonics HD version for your iPad you will also have the option to use the free NOAA charts also.

Select the charting icon in the lower left of the display to select Gov Charts(NOAA Charts) or your purchased Navionics or Sonar charts.
Both versions of the app now show a basic speed and course over ground display as shown in the top left of the display.  Tap the instrument display to change settings or share through Facebook, Twitter or email. Additional instrument data would be a nice to have.

The apps still lacks the integration of AIS and NMEA instrument data over WiFi. Many other apps provide these features with the price of the app.  I have to believe these features may show up at some point in the future as an in app purchase.

They do offer the Plotter Synch feature which allows on-board electronics to connect to Navionics servers on the Internet for uploading sonar data and downloading new charts or updates. This only applies to owners of Raymarine Wi-Fi enabled chart plotters at this time.

Several upgrades for the app can already be made with in app purchases. Select the Menu button at the bottom of the screen and select Upgrades and Apps.  Here you can choose to purchase additional Navionics charts which include very good coverage of the world.

Upgrades include the Nav Module, Autorouting, Advance Map Options and Navionics Plus.

Navionics seems to be back on track and now I understand why they made the changes they did earlier this spring.  As you know, I am a big fan of free.  Navionics has won back a little of my admiration with the addition of the free NOAA charts to their free Boating app.

Download this app today and see if it meets your needs. If not check out some other options on my list of Best Marine Charting apps.  Apps like iNavX and SEAiq offer additional premium navigation and instrumentation features not found in Navionics.

~~~ Sail On ~~~ /)

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