Thursday, October 25, 2012

Are You Buying an iPad Mini?

Well, in case you have been under a rock and haven't heard, the iPad Mini was announced the other day by Apple. With great fan fair, they rolled out not only the iPad Mini but they also announced another new iPad.  The 4th generation iPad follows the New iPad which was released just this spring.

There has been some rumors that some Apple stores are accepting returns of the New iPad for the newest 4th generation iPad release. Typically, you have up to 14 days to return your iPad if you are not satisfied with it. Some stores have extended this to 30 days in light of the surprise debut of the 4th generation iPad.

Some questions many of the app developers and users have had are what are some of the specs of the Mini and Newest iPad. Do they have a GPS? Is the screen resolution different?  What processor do they have?

Many of the specs for the iPad Mini look very similar to the iPad 2. Most noticeable is the smaller size at 7.9 inches instead of the 9.5 inches. The screen resolution remains the same as the iPad 2 at 1024x768, however the pixel density has been improved to 163ppi.

The weight of the Mini is less than half that of it's full size counterparts at just under 11 ounces.  The cameras, both front and back facing are improved and video can be taken in full 1080HD.  The processor of the Mini is the A5 dual core which is not as powerful as the new 4th Gen full sized iPad with the new A6 processor. The dual band WiFi on both the mini and the 4 generation iPads should improve connection speeds.

The other obvious addition is the 4G LTE cellular service that will improve your download time over the previous 3G models.  The specs on the Apple site also confirm that there is no GPS on the WiFi only versions of the Mini and the 4 gen iPads.  GPS is only available on the 3G and 4G models.

The Mini appears to have a few less feature and power when compared to the 4th Gen iPad. The addition of the A6 processors, more memory and the retina display give the advantage to the 4th Gen.

So which one are you buying? I think I will stick with my iPad 2 until it is now longer supported.  The rate at which Apple keeps pushing these things out, that may be next month.

~~~Sail On~~~~ /)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Application: IOS and Android Devices
Function: Navico MFD chartplotter, autopilot
Cost: Free
Rating: ****

Navico is one of the major players in the marine industry when it comes to marine navigation, chartplotters, fishfinders and displays. The company includes the brands of Lowrance, Simrad and B&G.

If your a Simrad or Lowrance MFD (multifunction function display) owner with Touch capability there is some exciting news. Navico has just rolled out a new GoFree WiFi and Ethernet strategy for connecting and controlling their Touch MFD with both IOS and Android phones and tablets.

There are three parts to setting up your new network. First, you will need the free GoFree app. The IOS version is already available for download from the iTunes Store. The Android version is scheduled for a later release. The app basically connects through the device wirelessly and allows display and optional control of the MFD functions.

Second you will need to have a Simrad Touch screen MFD which is the NSS series.  The new Lowrance HDS Gen2 series of units is also compatible and will be available in 2013.  Older non Touch screen units will not be supported.

A software upgrade RTM version 2.5 for the Simrad NSS MFD will be available in November.  This upgrade will give you access to all the features of the MFD remotely.

The third part is the Simrad WIFI-1 router hardware and is expected to go on sale in November 2012 for $199.  This is not your typical WiFi router. It has the capability to transmit high bandwith images for sonar and radar. It is basically an onboard WiFi dedicated to wirelessly sharing the MFD data to remote devices.

The obvious questions is can we use our present onboard router to talk to the MFD displays?  The answer is yes, but is will not be encouraged by the manufacturer.  Obviously some capabilities will not be available.  The Touch MFDs already will allow NMEA 183 data to transferred to some data display apps that use TCP/IP.  iNavX, Coastal Explorer, SEAiq and iRegatta have the ability to set up TCP/IP links and display various NMEA 0183 data sentences.

Simrad is encouraging app developers to write apps for their products. They have released the GoFree Developers Tool Kit which is an open protocol and will allow developers access to all NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000 data. The Toolkit includes protocols for 5 Tiers of data. Tier 1 is the NMEA 0183 data display, Tier 2 is for the Websockets CAN-Bus display and control. Tier 3 is MPEG4 video. Tier 4 is for custom radar and sonar. Tier 5 is FTP or similar file transfer of data. The specifications for Tier 1 and 2 protocols have been published and are available.

The matrix shows the MFD products, feature applications, software and availability.  It looks like you will have to be patient for some features with many slated for release in 2013.

Navico is certainly looking towards the future and allowing app developers to become involved in the process of pushing their products forward. It is an exciting time to be in the marine electronics industry!

~~~Sail On~~ /)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Marine Education App

Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Function: Marine Education and Testing, navigation rules
Rating:  ****
Cost: Free Lite version, $2.99 full version

It is down right scary on the water sometimes when you encounter boaters who don't even know the rules of the road. They not only endanger themselves but put other boaters in danger as well. Some states require some kind of boater safety class while most do not. If your a novice boater who wants to learn the basics or a avid boater who wants to brush up on your nautical knowledge this app is a great resource.

The folks at the MarineNeed website have created the Marine Education app.  This is a great resource to add to your iPhone or iPad to help you learn how to navigate the marine environment.

  • 12 Study categories
  • 3 levels of quiz difficulty
  • Offline functionality for studying and testing yourself 
  • Self test: Interactive quiz mode with 3 levels of difficulty
  • Visual images: Detailed, full colour illustrations & explanations
  • Progression management: Record your quiz score outcomes
  • Social media: Post your scores to Facebook or Twitter
  • Buoyage - Worldwide coverage for IALA A & B regions
  • Tides
  • Weather
  • I.R.P.C.S. (road rules for sail & power craft)
  • Chart symbols
  • Night navigation lights
  • Sound signals
  • Day shapes
  • Engine Types
  • Anchors
  • Hull types
  • Safety 
Study Mode:  This mode offers the option to learn from a wide range of categories. Each category has specific questions offering a cutting edge learning experience. Full color flash cards are expertly drawn by marine publications illustrator Pete Galvin. Each illustration is accompanied by a clear and concise description.
This mode provides the user a variety of  categories to choose from. In study mode you are given a graphic related to one of the categories. The underlying rule or explanation is provided by tapping on the image.  I found it very easy to use and intuitive.

The images are very colorful and informative and the explanation and rules are easy to understand.

Quiz Mode: The quiz mode provides an intuitive and fun experience for learning. Three different levels of difficulty are provided so whether you’re just starting out or an experience marine user, there are challenging questions for everyone.

Each time you take a quiz, 40 questions are selected at random.  Three levels of difficulty are provided, so you should never get the same series of questions twice. 

Unfinished quizes are kept so you can pick up where you left off if you get interrupted during a quiz. Quiz scores are recorded for each of the quizes you take in each of the three categories.

Video Tutorials:  The app is also linked to a nice video tutorial on YouTube. Other video resources are available for training in the areas of navigation, weather, tides, sailing, power boating and jet skiing.

This app is a great resource to have handy while boating.  We all could use a refresher on the many aspects of navigtion, bouyage, safety, rules of the road and navigation lights.  Don't become one of those boaters people complain about. Become a competent captain and earn respect on the water.

~~~Sail On~~~ /)


Monday, October 8, 2012

Marine Resource Links Page?

I had the day off today from my real job as a power marketer.  My wife was not so fortunate and was off this morning to work. 

The vacation day allowed me to spend some time thinking about my blog. I am always trying to come up with ways to improve the blog and provide more information to my followers. Thank you loyal followers!

I get numerous requests from people who want me to list a link on my site.  i-Marine apps, by the way, gets over 35,000 hits per month, so there is a fair amount of traffic to the site.  I thought it might be a good idea to start a Marine or Nautical links section.  I would list your link for free as long as it has to do with the marine industry.  All I would ask in return is that you support i-Marine apps by clicking on a few Google adds on the site or make a PayPal donation if you feel so inclined.  I have had several companies make donations and they are very much appreciated.  If you could put a reciprocal link to my blog on your site or blog that would be a win - win for both of us.

I am picturing a wide range of sections, including marine blogs, apps, boat cruising blogs, marine suppliers, marine hardware and electronics, marine charts, marine navigation, marine events and organizations, yacht clubs.  If it has to do with boats and the water your in. 

So, start sending in your links and I will get the Marine Resources page started.  I hope it will become a useful resource for us all. You can repond to this blog post with your link.

I have also thought about paid adds for the site. Some companies have approached me about placing adds on my site.  I am working on this and will have more information in the future on the capability to place adds on i-Marine Apps.

Hope everyone has a great week!

~~~Sail On~~~ /)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

SailTimer Version 5.2.1

Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Function: GPS navigation, sailing navigation, charting, polar plots
Rating: ****
Cost: Free

As I sit here this morning it is a beautiful, sunny 25 degrees outside.  The golden leaves are gently dropping off the trees in preparation for winter. Squirrels are scurrying about collecting food for the cold days ahead.  It is that time when I must put away my boats and give in the the change of the seasons. As I was looking through some apps I saw a fresh update to one I had briefly looked at a while ago, SailTimer

Navigation for sailors has always been a problem because most GPS chartplotters only calculate a coarse in a straight line.  They fail to take into account the tacking we sailors do when headed up wind. The SailTimer app now will calculate the best tacking angles and the shortest tacking time to destination, TTD.  Steve Summers is the brains behind the app. His company is named Indepth Navigation and is located in St. Margaret's, Nova Scotia.

Many of us sailors have been looking for a way to determine the optimal tacking angles to maximize speed and make headway upwind. The question has always been, should you minimize distance by sailing close to the wind, or head off the wind and try to make up the extra distance with more speed?  This is particularly true when racing sailboats.  The app has the ability to create your boat's polar diagrams on the fly and use this data to plot the fastest coarse. At last someone has finally created an app for sailors.

The SailTimer app now provides a marine chart display, complete with Waypoints, Tracking, points of interest, GPS realtime tracking and of course the calculation of the optimal tacking route.

  • Save waypoints on the map.
  • In-app purchase of Marine charts for $15.99-$23.99
  • Charts sets for US, Canada, New Zealand and the UK.
  • In-app purchase for $9.99 for custom polar plot creation
  • Calculates tacking distances, headings and times to get to waypoint.
  • Use on an iPod or iPad with no GPS
  • Use with the SailTimer Wind Vane to provide wind direction and speed wirelessly.
  • Google maps and road maps are available free. Add marine charts with in-app purchases.
  • Charts can be used offline.
  • The crosshair icon provides your current location 
  • Multi touch gesture support
  • GPS real time tracking of position
  • The Graph button will save the wind data. You can save both wind speed and boat speed.
  • Continuously monitor your progress on the chart.
  • ActiveCaptain™ points of interest support is provided. It does require an in app purchase for $4.99
  • Distance, heading and time of each tack is calculated.
The newest version of SailTimer  provides some pretty impressive upgrades.  I had looked at the app about a year ago and thought it looked cumbersome to use.  This version has a more professional look and feel and provide useable results.

The main screen provides a Google map display with options for marine charts and road maps. At the top there are Waypoint
and Drop Pin buttons. Selecting the waypoint button will show you the list of waypoints.  Selecting a waypoint allows you to edit the name and save it.  It would be nice to be able to manually edit the coordinates also. You can select the Go There button to navigate to the waypoint.

I found the waypoint creation procedure a little awkward.  The Drop Pin button is used to create new waypoints in the middle of the display.  I could not find any way to move the waypoint once it was created. It would be nice to be able to graphically move the waypoint pin around to exactly where I wanted it.

Under Options you can make in-app purchases for marine charts and a polar plot function.  I think the NOAA marine charts are overpriced at $15.99. Tracks can be save or deleted here too.

The bottom left of the screen has the Input and Option buttons. Input allows you to manually input your wind speed, direction and bearing data and to set up some options within the app.

Select the Bearing button to either enter the direction and distance to your destination, or select Go To Waypoint.  As you sail the optimal tacks will continuously update. Your Tacking Time to Destination will be updated and displayed along the route.

Select the Wind button to input the wind direction and speed. The app will then calculate your TTD, tacking time to destination. 

Here the distance to the waypoint is only 3.3 mile but since the wind is on our nose, we have to tack a distance of 4.3 miles. The TTD is estimated at 43 minutes.  Actual boat speed is shown in the lower right corner of the app.

There is a YouTube video that shows how to use the app. I found this helpful in explaining some of the features.

The blue speedometer looking device at the bottom of the screen is the latest addition to the app. Tap the speedometer to enlarge the wind data display.

If you manually set the wind direction and speed under Input, those readings should show up here. If you have the new SailTimer WindVane those realtime values will show up here. 

SailTimer has recently developed a wireless windvane to enhance the capabilities of their app. Under Input/Set-Up you can select the SailTimer WindVane to set up, calibrate and use the real time data.   Some unique features are that it is solar powered and connects through WiFi or Bluetooth. So no wires need to be run up the mast to power the device.

Wind data and boat speed can be graphed from data within the app for further analysis. Within the blue speedometer display select the Graph button to save the data.

The Sailtimer WindVane is a little pricey at $689.00 US but it is priced alot less than some other wind instruments in the marine industry. It looks like a good value for what you get.

I like what I see with the recent additons to SailTimer.  Steve and his crew at Indepth Navigation are continuing to update the app and provide added features and benefits especially for sailors.  The addition of some electronics hardware to wirelessly provide wind data to the app is a real plus. 

~~~Sail On~~~ /)