Saturday, January 9, 2016

i-Marine Apps Whats it all About?

i-Marine Apps BLOG, What's it all about?

I stared this blog site in about 2010, it was developed because smart phones and tablets were just starting to hit the mainstream. Many new marine apps were starting to be developed.  I had an interest in them and thought other people might want to know about them also. I have a degree in electrical engineering and am a confessed Geek so I really enjoy figuring out all the features and explaining them in this blog. I know, most of it is really boring, but I do my best to keep it interesting.

After a few years, I was afraid I would run out of apps to write about. I have been amazed at the continuous stream of new apps and update to existing apps that keep coming.

My first post was about i-NavX, an app that I first downloaded onto my iPod Touch at that time. The iPod Touch did not have a GPS so I started reviewing some external GPS units that could be linked by Bluetooth to the iPod Touch. iNavX was amazing and many more apps followed as the popularity of smart phones and tablets like the iPad followed. Many boaters and the marine industry rapidly realized that these devices would play a big part in their future.

Navigation on my blog is pretty easy, There are tabs at the top of the screen listing the major categories that I review. There categories include:

The Home page take you back to the main blog page to the latest app reviews. The Home page includes some links in the right column for My Amazon Store, a Translate link to convert to other languages, a Search box so you can search my blog for an app you may be looking for.  A list of Followers is also shown so make sure to click the Join This Site link to become a follower. You will notice a few Google Adds on the site also. Please click on these if you find the add interesting to you. I have monetized my blog with Google Adsense. That means I get a little revenue from Google for each add that is clicked on.  This is one way you can support my site and keep me motivated to keep the blog going.  A link to join Ebates is another great way to save some extra cash on stuff you are already buying online. Click on this link to join today!

There is a list of my Favorite Sites. These are a collections of web sites and blogs that I follow.  Next is a list of Popular Blog Post for my blog. Click on these to check out more of my past posts.

Best Marine Chart Apps tab is my list of top Marine apps. This list has changed over the years with many new apps being introduced.  It started out as a top 10 list but now has 14 of the best apps listed. iNavX has remained at the top in the #1 spot from the beginning of the list.  This app, as you all know, is the most full featured and has great connectivity to your on board instruments via WiFi including your autopilot. Check out my top rated Marine Charting apps to find one that works for you. They vary in prices, features, charts and connectivity.

Top 5 Best Marine Data Apps tab was developed as many new app started to connect to boater's on board instruments. Many of the NAEMA 0183 and 2000 instruments can now be connected to multiplexers and WiFi to allow this data to be displayed on your mobile device. Providing this data to the apps gave users a whole new way to access and look at this data. You can now be anywhere on your yacht and know instantly how fast your moving and where you are located.  My list of 5 soon grew to my top 10 marine data apps.  Most apps now provide display of NMEA data over WiFi using TCP/IP or UDP protocols. Check out my list and email if you have a favorite that deserves to be listed.

Top 5 Best Marine AIS Display Apps Tab 
AIS or Automatic Identification System was originally developed for collision avoidance for the commercial shipping industry. AIS is required by law for this class of ships.  Many boaters and manufacturers soon realized that AIS was very useful for smaller yachts also.  AIS uses frequencies that can be received using a VHF antenna.  Some VHF radios are now outfitted with AIS receivers.

As a sailor myself it is nice to know where these big ships are going and if they are on course to mow me down.  AIS comes in the form of just a receiver where you can receive and display the locations of ships.  AIS also comes in the form of a transceiver which can both receive and send AIS signals. AIS is being expanded in Europe to include many buoys and makers in the marine industry. This will likely catch on in the US waters soon.

GPS for iPad
Some of the early mobile devices did not have GPS chips in them. iPads without the cellular option do not have an internal GPS chip so I thought it would be good to review some options for getting GPS for these phones and tablets. Many people like to use a separate GPS so their mobile device's battery does not get run down as fast.  Most of these GPS devices connect through Bluetooth so there is not a huge saving on your devices battery because Bluetooth takes quite a bit of battery power while running.

Once I got my iPhone and my iPad with cellular service I no longer needed some of the devices I purchased.  Anyway, this is a nice list in case you are in need of a GPS device.  There are some new even smaller dongle type GPS devices that are available today.

The next tab on the menu is the iNavX Tutorial.  iNavX is a very complex and full featured marine app. Some people shy away from it for that reason.  I put together these tutorials to help make setting it up and using the app alot easier.  If you own iNavX, reading through these will help you figure out all the features and settings for the app. The xTraverse website is where you go to buy charts for iNavX.  Read through the getting started post to learn how to navigate and buy charts on that site.

iNavX is complex but it is also the most full featured and provides the best connectivity to NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000 data on your yacht. Once you learn how to get it set up and use it for a while you will agree with me that it is the #1 app out there.

The iPad Onboard tab is a list of posts I did to help in getting your iPad set up with various apps.  The posts cover Protecting Your iPad where I talk about the available covers for your device. I am a big believer in LifeProof cases. They have protected all my devices over the years.

In the Camera and Video post I cover some of the camera and video options available for use with the iPad. I also cover the use of Airplay and how to stream and mirror marine apps on your device to other displays.

The iPad Entertainment post talks about how you can use your iPad as the center of your music an video entertainment system.  Go wireless, no need to drill holes all over your boat.

The Navigation post talks about all of my favorite marine navigation apps, Bluetooth GPS units and some mounting options for using your iPad on board.

Finally the Organize your iPad post covers many of the apps I use and how I organize them into folders. I give you a look at my favorite apps for navigation, instrument display, AIS, weather and more.

The next tab is for Android Marine Apps. I have to confess that there are not many post here. I have mainly focused on the iPhone and iPad apps. There are a few listed here if you have an Android device.

The next tab is Support i-Marine Apps. This is just what it says. I have provided a link to my PayPal site in case you want to leave me a tip for all the great posts.  I have had many donations for my posts over the years, and greatly appreciate any support you could send my way. I promise I will put the money to good use by buying a beer or some fine rum to keep me motivate.

The Directory Tab is a complete list all my posts.  These are separated into categories so you can easily find the type of app your looking for. Many of the apps have numerous posts as they publish new versions and add new features to the apps.

The last few tabs are Links and my Amazon Store.  The Links tab is a long list of links for marine web sites, blogs, manufacturers and services.  I have not spend a lot of time updating this so some links may be dead. If you find a dead link please notify me of any that don't work.  My Amazon Store is a great list of products on Amazon that are available for purchase. These cover a wide variety of marine products. If you are buying marine products, buying them through my site is another way you can support i-Marine Apps. Thank you! Thank you!

Well that is a quick tour of my blog. I hope you explore all the pages and provide some comments to the post. Please become a follower of all my blogs and explore YouTube Site.

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

~~~ Sail On ~~~ /)


  1. Pete in the BalticApril 18, 2016 at 11:35 AM


    Thanks a lot for a great site. Being new to digital sailing I am very thankful of your effort. One question for you that I am trying to understand - what is the cheapest way to get AIS onto the ipad offshore? Since I often leave 3G covered waters I cant use 3G based AIS providers. And all separate AIS receivers/transponders often come with a need for a VHF and a network and hence a high cost for my small and cheap boat. Is there a simpler AIS system like if the GNS 5870 had had AIS built in to it.

    1. Pete,
      If you are out of 3G range and Internet based AIS, the only other way to receive AIS is through a VHF AIS equipped radio or AIS receiver. Once you get AIS you then have to get it on WiFi so your iPad can display it. I ran across a cheap AIS receiver that has a USB connector.

      This would get AIS onto your PC. You could then use a PC based AIS program like OpenCpn to forward the AIS data over a TCP/IP connection. This NMEA Router could be used to send the AIS data to your iPad from a PC

      This guys has tinkered with Ardruino and Rasberry Pi also. Interesting stuff.

      Here are some more options.

      Let me know what you end up using.