A lot of marine enthusiasts are exploring capability on their iPhone these days for charting, GPS and marine weather apps. iPhone apps are usually low priced and often quite effective, especially for casual boats who do not have the budget for fancy marine electronics. One of the things people love most about iPhone marine apps is the ability to use charts for planning purposes even when you are not on the boat or out on the water. Many iPhone marine charting apps also run on iPod Touch and the newest in the Apple line of electronic wizardry, the iPad. Check before you purchase. Many apps are very low cost, so even if you have high end electronics on board, a few inexpensive iPhone charts can provide a great backup in case something goes wrong with your primary marine equipment for some inexplicable reason.
Here is the run down on a few of the more popular iPhone apps that might interest boats and fishermen:
Marine Charts for iPod, iPhone and iPad: iNavX ™
This app includes NOAA RNC raster marine charts for the United States. The app allows you to lease GPS to plot your position and gives you access to thousands of charts for Canada, US Coastal waters, Alaska, Hawaii and the US Virgin Islands. It allows you to set waypoints and plot routes using the GPS tracker, and interfaces with Google Earth, GPX import / export, and GRIB weather forecast amongst others. It can also act as a repeater to support NMEA data over TCP / IP. That means you can use it to connect with other devices that use NMEA standard including Mac compatible applications such as MacENC ™.
iNavX retails for $ 49.99 at the Apple store. There are also versions available for 3G and 3GS.
Navionics Marine Charting Software
Navionics won awards for their innovative marine and lake charts iPhone app in 2009. The 2010 version is a little more pricey (up from $ 9.99 to $ 24.99) but lets you do even more. As well as keeping you on track with the GPS and Charting applications you can check tides and currents, sun and moon phases and interface directly to Facebook to post pics of your travels for friends and family to view instantly. You can also send tracks and routes to Google Earth. You can even use the app offline (where there is no wi-fi coverage) to plan routes and create a travelogue. You buy Navionics Marine charts for specific regions so you can buy Marine: US West, Marine: US East, etc.
Using apps for your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or 3G wireless phone is a convenient and inexpensive way to try out various software and see if you like it enough to invest in a boat-mounted marine chart system. It is also a useful backup to your primary electronics and may free you up from the need to lug a laptop on board with you.