Android Marine Apps

Reviews of Android Marine apps


GPS Nautical Charts

Application: Android
Function: GPS Charting and Navigation
Price: $14.99
Rating: ****

There are many great apps out there, but I bet you there are not many that talk to you. Yah, you heard me, talk to you!  No, this is not Siri, but it is just as cool.  This is a great Android app called GPS Nautical Charts.  Android devices lack alot of good marine apps unlike the IOS devices which have a variety of great apps for marine navigation.  GPS Nautical looks like a welcome app for those Android Marine users.

The feature list is quite extensive as you can see and it has all the right elements of a great charting app. It has routing, tracking, waypoints, quilting charts and more.  Charts sets include US NOAA, UK and Ireland, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium and Iceland.

  • Seamless quilting of charts
  • Offline Chart use
  • Distance and bearing too
  • Custom Waypoints
  • Points of interest and search
  • Tides and Currents
  • WGS84 GPS accurate
  • Record and view tracks
  • Export tracks in GPX format
  • Create and edit routes
  • Pan and zoom
  • Voice prompts when approaching a route marker
  • Continuous distance and ETA updates
  • Voice alerts when off route
  • Voice alerts when going in wrong direction 
  • Charts can be downloaded for the following areas:
    • USA (derived from NOAA data)
    • UK/Ireland (derived from UKHO data)
    • Central Canada (derived from CHS data)
    • Netherlands (derived from NLHO data)
    • Belgium(derived  from VH (Vlaamse Hydrografie) data)
    • Iceland (derived from Icelandic Coast Guard Hydrographic data
I am at a little bit of a disadvantage here because I don't own an Android mobile device at this time. So, I was not able to put the app through it's paces, like I usually do, to check out all the features. The screen shots are from the Google Play app store.

The voice prompts for the app are used much like voice prompts are used in Street navigation apps.  This app warns you of an approaching route marker or waypoint. It will also alert you if you are off your desired route or if you are going in the wrong direction. Going in the wrong direction is not a good thing!

Many apps have alarms for these indications, the author of this app has incorporated voice alerts.  I wonder if I can program it with my wife's voice, so I can feel right at home on the water.  She is known for being quite a back seat driver.

The authors website had a little information on how some of the features worked.  I would like to see a little better documentation or some help pages on the website.  They do provide a YouTube video accompanied by some some "snappy" country music that takes you through some of the features. You may find that more helpful.

You can purchase the app from the Google Play store. You can also buy it from the GPS Nautical Website.

The app really looks promising and I hope the author improves a little on documentation so the average Joe can figure out how to use the app.  The app is loaded with alot of great features that a high end marine app should have, so I am encouraged.

If you are an Android device owner and in need of some nautical charts, give this app a try. It looks like it is well worth the $14.99 price.  Does anyone have any experience with this app?

by txmine

Application: Android 2.2 or higher
Function: Nautical Quiz preparation for Captains License
Price: $5.99
Rating: ****

If your looking to find a quick and fun way to learn the rules of the road while boating check out NAVRULES Quiz.  If your just an average boater wanting to become more proficient with your navigating skills or someone looking to become a professional captain, this app will be a great help in teaching you what you need to know.

This Android app will help you study for your any of the U.S. Coast Guard licenses. The app has a built-in International-Inland COLREGS reference so that you can study and learn your nautical Rules of the Road.  This handy little phone app allows you to study when it is convenient for you. 

  • The app allows you to play games with random questions from the test bank of over 1200 official U.S. Coast Guard questions.
  • Helpful diagram of navigation lights, shapes, and situations.
  • Keep track of your test scores to track your progress. Determine if you can pass an official USCG examination.
  • Play games composed of questions which you have answered incorrectly in the past to target your trouble areas.
  • In-app NAVRULES reference contains all of the Navigation Rules in a handy in-app reference complete with diagrams.
  • App was developed by a USCG licensed mariner in response to the challenge of learning these sometimes intricate rules. 
  • Quiz questions are given immediate feedback, which allows you to review the question and compare your answer to the official answer. 
The app is divided up into three main sections. Quiz Options, Reference and App Options.

Quiz Options lets you start new quizes, keep track of your scores and replay a quiz. You can play back problem questions for added testing.

The app allows you to take multiple quizes and it keeps track of your scores. It also remembers the questions you got wrong so you can spend extra time reviewing those.

The quiz questions are easy to read and answers are provided following your selection.  Instant feedback lets you know if you were right or wrong.

The app provides a wide variety of multiple choice questions that pertain to all aspects of boating or sailing.

The app questions come with colorful easy to read diagrams which help in the test taking process.  The questions are generated randomly from a NAVRULES database of over 1200 Coast Guard questions.

NAVRULES runs on almost any Android phone or device so it is easy to take along and use while boating or traveling.

The mobile app lets you study anywhere and anytime you want. It makes it a fun way of learning not only for yourself but for your wife and kids also. Not sure I could get my kids to take the quizes. They would have to be extremely bored.

The Reference section has a complete listing of the U.S. Coast Guard rules of the road and color regulations.

You can quickly look up and reference any rule in the reference section. Quick hotlinks allow you to check both the inland and international regulations.

This sections is great for not only studying, but it is a great section to find out almost anything related to navigational rules.

This app is fun and easy to use. I like that it keeps track of my tests and helps me remember which questions I am having problems getting right.

Even if you are not going to become a captain or skipper a 100 ton vessel it make sense to pick this app up and learn the rules of the road. It may prevent you from becoming involved in an accident or at least save you from major embarrassment.

Nutiteq's NutiCharts Lite

Nutiteq is a new developer of mobile mapping applications.  They are based in Estonia and provide mapping services to third party developers also. Nutiteq has come out with a lite version of their Android software that is free. I don't know about you, but free works for me.  NutiChart Lite  is their entry level app with limited functionality.  The full and Pro versions will include more features and have a price attached. This app can be found in the Android Market. Their NutiChart Lite app displays the NOAA RNC charts online.  They have another seperate app called Offline Maps for Android that uses the OpenStreet Maps for street navigations and tracking if your interested in that.

All images compliments of Nutiteq
NutiChart free features:
  • View OpenStreet Maps for road navigation.
  • View on-line NOAA RNC charts for entire US over Wifi for cellular connection.
  • Marine weather from online sources.
  • Track your GPS location on charts.
  • Add bookmarks to charts.
  • View on-line ActiveCaptain community generated data. Points of interest include marines, restaurants, services and hazards.
  • Search on-line within ActiveCaptain database.
Additional paid features are available after in-application purchase:
  • Full offline mode while not connected to Wifi or cellular service 
  • Offline use of downloaded chart packages.
  • Charts are available per state. 
  • Offline download and use of the ActiveCaptain crowd-sourced database.

Additional navigation features including waypoints will be offered in an upcoming Pro version.

I am not a fan of online use of charts. I like my charts on my device so I can use them when I am not near Wifi or in celluar range.  This may not be an issue if you are a coastal cruiser.

There are only a few Marine charting apps for Android at this time. It is good to see that Nutiteq is joining the game and providing an easy use product.  I look forward to future releases and the Pro version.

The price is right so download it and keep your eye out for future releases. 

NEW and Improved Android Market

Will the Android Market ever rival the Apple iTunes Store? Some say never, some say maybe. I say yah baby!  Recent changes show a step in the right direction. Google has been busy upgrading the Android Market with some new improved features that you should check out.

It is now is a full blown store that can be accessed on the web through any browser.  Previous apps had to all be purchase through your android device.  Now simply use your Google account login linked to your Android phone and your just a few clicks away from browsing and purchasing apps. In app purchases are also allowed now which makes future subscription type services available.

Site Navigation:

The Android Market has made great improvements but still lacks a good way to navigate the site. Tabs on the top of the page show the Featured, Top Paid and Top Free apps.  In the left column you will be presented with the categories.  There is no easy way to filter the apps by rating, price or number of installations.  It does provide categories but no easy way to search within the categories. You just have to page through the sea of apps to find what your looking for.  If you know the name of the app you can search for it that way.

Check Out:

Selecting an app brings up a nice page with a short Overview of the app.  Other tabs includes Reviews, Whats New and Permissions. The Android Market tracks the specifications of your Android device and does not let you install incompatible apps. This is a nice feature due to the many versions and flavors of Android. Purchasing apps is done with the Google checkout payment system. Not as slick as the Apple iTune store but still functional.

The improvements to the Android Market are a leap forward but there is still a long way to go compared to the iTune store. Lets just hope Google keeps working hard to improve the Android experience.

GeoWake Mobile **

Another Android app that will help you navigate on the US waterways is GeoWake.  It is available in the Android Market place.

It utilizes the phones geolocation features so you will need a WiFi or a strong cell signal.  The app is very data intensive so a strong signal is needed to utilized all the features of the app.

It provides the NOAA nautical charts and has access to over 2100 charts featuring over 100,000 navigation aids.  It covers only the US coastal water and waterways.

GeoWake offers the ever popular Google Maps as an overlay to the NOAA charts.  The overlay has an opacity control which allows the user to adjust it for best results.

Weather is incorporated with the addition of WeatherBug. The app allows easy access to current weather conditions in your immediate area.

The app is priced right at only 99 cents along with free updates.  Check it, for a buck it is worth a test drive.

SPOT Connect Messenger App ****

More hot news out of the Consumers Electronics Show (CES) this week in Las Vegas. SPOT has a new satellite messenger that will connect with your Android phone to allow you to update your family and friends or call for help in case of emergencies. This device is similar to the stand alone SPOT satellite messenger I reviewed earlier on my Gadgets Page.  If your a serious adventurer you are not always going to be within cell range. If you find yourself out there too far SPOT may be your answer to keep you in touch.

SPOT connects to your Android phone through a wireless Bluetooth connection. The free SPOT Connect app resides on your Android phone and will be available through the Android Market place soon.  Apps for the Blackberry and Windows 7 phone are planned for later this year.  Apps for the iPhone is pending Apple's approval.

These apps will allow the phone to use the SPOT's GPS to give you a more accurate location.  The apps Check In/OK feature will also allow the user to send text messages to friends and family and update your location on social networking sites through SPOT's satellite link. SPOT uses the Globalstar satellite network which covers most major continents.  See the SPOT coverage map here.  SPOT covers most of the major continents and several hundred miles off shore but is far from worldwide coverage. If your a sailor in the southern ocean forget it. 

Activating the SOS feature sends out your GPS position every five minutes to the GEOS emergency response center. This will allow the user to notify international emergency response personnel if you have a life threatening emergency.  SPOT can also summon optional roadside assistance or help on the water from BoatUS marine services.  It will also allow users to send updates and allow tracking on Google Maps or SPOTS's adventure page.

The device itself is a solid piece of hardware only measuring 3 inches by 2.6 inches by 1.2 inches and weighs only 4.9 ounces. It has a IPX7 waterproof rating which means it can be submerged in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. The Bluetooth range is the standard 30 feet and is powered by 2 AA lithium batteries.

The device can also operate independently if your cell phone dies which would be a concern of mine.

The SPOT connect messenger will retail for $169. An additional $100 activation fee is required to use the SPOT's satellite network service.

Check out the video below.

12/31/2010 **Happy New Year**
Google Maps Navigation (Beta) ****

Although this app is not strictly a marine navigation app, I had to mention it anyway.  Google is always busy at work trying to make our lives better with their power house of applications for the web and now Android powered devices.  Google Maps for mobile was launched almost five years ago. Their latest release is Google Maps Navigation, an Internet connected GPS navigation system with voice guidance. The neatest thing about the app is that it is for Android devices and it is FREE. You gotta love that!  If I were Garmin, Tom Tom or Magellan I would be really worried.

The app is packed full of Google goodies that we have all come to know a love. The powerful search feature lets you search for businesses, addresses and phone numbers of anything you would want to find. 

Search by voice is the newest feature.  It allows the user to speak where you want to go. You can speak an address, the name of the business or what type of business you are looking for.  The app finds it and takes you there with turn by turn guidance. How cool it that? Google has definitely taken it to the next level.

Traffic view shows you the level of traffic along your route in color coded tracks of green, yellow and red. Red meaning the most traffic of course. The app allows you to choose an alternate route to miss the traffic.  This feature would come in handy during rush hour.

Satellite view shows overlays of the popular Google high resolution 3D aerial imagery. We are all familiar with these overlays that give us actual pictures of the roads and buildings around us. Google has improved this feature by using vector graphics to download images.  This allows the user to interact with the images. Added features are tilting, rotating, smooth zooming with two fingers and compas mode.

Street view gives the user another level of guidance and a chance to visualize the actual street images as you approach your destination.

The latest addition is the added reliability of offline guidance if you lose connection after you begin your route.  The software caches your route ahead of time so you can continue navigating if you lose your network connection.  This can come in handy if you have to get on the subway and want to keep navigating.

To get the app just search for "Google Maps" in the Android Market from your phone.  Download the app and begin a navigating experience like no other.

Google Sky Map ****

If your a bit of an astronomy nut like me you are often gazing at the night sky trying to identify what you looking at in the heavens. How cool would it be for you to point your phone at the sky and have it show you the name of the constellations or the planets your looking at.  Google has an Android app called Sky Map which does just that.

Simply go to the Android Market on your phone search for Sky Map and download it. Once it is downloaded select the app to run.

Google has developed Sky Map which uses about every sensor Android currently has including GPS, compass, accelerometer, date and time.  The application make use of the GPS to find your location on earth.  It uses the compass and accelerometer to find your orientation to the sky.  While holding the phones screen to the sky it will show you the constellations, stars and planets in their correct position and conveniently names then all.

A unique search feature allows the user to search for a particular star or planet by name and the application will direct the user to the location in the sky by using an arrow and a target circle on the display. Sky Map give you an interactive tour of the heavens with your android device. What a great learning tool for kids and grown ups alike.

Check out the video below on how to get started using Sky Map.

Navionics Marine and Lakes for Android V4.3 *****

Navionics Android Marine Charting App is now available from Navionics.  Navionics is well know for their development of the iPhone and iPad versions which have become very popular with boaters. The app can be purchased in the Android Market resident on you Android phone and downloaded from there.  The Android Market is kind of like iTunes Store for your Android device.  

Navionics Marine and Lake Android I believe is the first full blown marine navigation and charting program for Android mobile devices. It does not need an Internet connection to work. I does need an Internet connection to initially download charts. These can be save to an onboard SD card for use.  Once the charts are in memory they can be use anywhere, anytime even when your phone is out of cell range.

  • Maps can be download for use when not connected to the Internet
  • Create routes and waypoints
  • Export routes and waypoints to Google Earth
  • GPS realtime tracking of your position
  • Overlay wind on charts
  • Zoom by double tapping the screen or hitting the zoom in or out buttons
  • Panning by dragging your finger on the screen
  • Show GPS location and POI on Google Maps
  • New brighter and clearer interface
  • Twitter sharing and new sharing interface
  • Record/Save tracks, routes
  • Capture geotagged pictures of your adventures
  • Large database of specialty marine POIs available
  • Search marinas and specialty marine POI
  • Check tides & currents, moon phase, sun/moon rise/set

    Navionics is compatible with the following models. Please check the Navionics website for updates:
    Samsung Galaxy
    Acer Liquid
    HTC Desire
    HTC Dream
    HTC Hero
    HTC Incredible
    HTC Tattoo
    Motorola Droid
    Nexus One
    Xperia x10
    The Navionics app will work with these devices with Operating system required: 1.6 or >
The Android marine app market is pretty small right now. Navionics has a jump start on their competition with the introduction of this app. Watch a quick video on how to download your Navionics app and start using it today.

EarthNC Marine Charts 1.0 for Android ***

EarthNC is entering the Android market with it's Marine Chart for Android version 1.0. They too have been developing for the iPhone and have continue that success with this app. EarthNC uses NOAA maps and supports waypoints and realtime navigation.

  • Charts can be downloaded and stored on the device
  • No need for a cell or Internet connection,charts can be stored for use offline
  • The app provides realtime positioning and heading with the GPS compass
  • Create coordinates via drag and drop or enter coordinates manually
  • Select your preference of several different nautical units
  • Supports several different overlays for street maps, topographical maps and NOAA charts
I personally don't have an Android phone so I was not able to further test the software. Anyone who has any experience with the application please comment.