Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fly to Map - Water Map Navigator First Look

Fly to Map was nice enough to let me test their new marine mapping program (Yeah Apple Promo Codes ... way easier than AdHoc distribution) for review. The program is cheap and simple (just $10) and displays NOAA ENC charts. I got the US Eastern region which covers the coast from Maine to Mexico although my understanding is that NOAA is not yet completed turning all the charts into ENC's yet so coverage detail may vary depending on region. The chart rendering is nice enough, although not nearly as pretty as the Navimatics Marine Maps, fairly similar to the Navionics charts on iNavX Version 2. Zooming and panning is quite jumpy, although smoother than Navimatics marine maps, not anywhere near as smooth as iNavX V2. Pushing the location button plots your position, and moves the chart to put you in view, but does not rezoom, so when you start the program and it shows the entire east coast, you must manually zoom in or search to your region to actually see any detail. The search function does work but is essentially the only function the program has. There is NO WAY this program should be used for navigation, or really even trip planning, but it does provide a fairly cheap way to view the ENC charts on your phone. For anyone serious about iPhone navigation, this isn't worth your $10, at least not yet. Better to save your money for iNavX or the upcoming iNavX Version 2 (with Navionics vector charts).

By the way, iNavX V2 is coming along nicely. The search that I love in the Navimatics marine Maps is finding its way into the software. If you want a sense as to what this will look like, you can download the free Navionics viewer and roam around south Florida or Italy. Picture those charts with iNavX's instruments, waypoints, etc and you have a pretty good idea of what is to come. I haven't gotten a clear sense of what will happen to the raster version of iNavX when the vector charts become available. I generally prefer raster charts, but the ability to search for a harbor by name when dealing with the small screen of the iPhone may be enough reason to favor vector charts.

--UPDATE-- from iNavX -- Apparently both the raster and vector charts will be able to exist side by side within iNavX Version 2 when it is eventually released. Thus far the alpha version I have been playing with doesn't have access to the raster charts (which makes sense at this point as he is working out the vector parts of the program) so no word yet on exactly how this will work, but if past performance is any prediction of future results, it will be a smooth integration from the folks at iNavX.

Reading through the iNavX forums I found this bit of useful info:

"All current owners of iNavX will receive version 2.0 at no additional cost. iNavX version 2.0 will add these features to iNavX..

- Download purchased Navionics charts & maps in addition to the free NOAA US waters
- Navaid inspector
- Waypoint upload/download (GPX and KML file support)
- Pinch zooming (Easy to use zoom slider will still be available)
- Available on ALL iTunes iPhone app stores

Prices have not been finalized on the top quality Navionics cartography, but I understand they will be very reasonably priced. Even with the additional features, iNavX will remain priced under US$50. "


GPSNavX said...

iNavX 1.0.7 (submitted to Apple today) adds the ability to search for (and scroll to) marinas/navaids on the NOAA raster charts.

iNavX 2.0.0 will add the Navionics chart support. Exact release date is not known at this time.

Coming soon is
- TOPO Map support
- GRIB Weather overlay

Tom Andrew said...

I bought Watermap application on iTune sometime back it is simply ... great!! and moreover Cheap.
I just got an update few days ago. It contains an improved search and also lot of names has been added. This is for ... free!
I have also a Garmin and frankly speaking the detailed I got are the same. Flytomap is costing 1 tenth of any cheap plotter and 1 fifth of any Iphone navigator.
Compared to Navimatics and Inavx I decided to go with Flytomap due to the huge difference in the coverage of this Navigator.
I also sent a mail to flytomap they are telling they will update frequently the SW.

Ibsailn said...

I guess I question what Tom is using the software for. I did get a chance to test all the available programs while sailing and navigating around Fort Myers Beach and I found Flytomap's product nearly unusable. This is partially because the NOAA ENC for this region is severely lacking, but mainly because there is no direction given to your position. The software just really isn't meant for navigation. If all you want to do is view the charts, then it certainly is a cost effective option, but honestly, we don't go sailing to save money and I would gladly spend the extra $40 for the superior features of iNavX. As far as providing free updates, I don't have any iPhone program that has added as many features for free as iNavX who is under constant development.

I am confused by his note about Flytomap's coverage being dramatically greater than Navimatics or iNavX's. The NOAA ENC coverage is lower than iNavX's NOAA RNC coverage.

A full story on the on-the-water comparison will come out sometime this week, or over the weekend if I don't get a chance before then -- Stay Tuned