Do you have an iPad (with GPS) or iPhone on the boat with you? Okay, then, no excuses: Download the latest Navionics Boating app update from the App Store, now standard with access to the free U.S. electronic navigation charts (ENC) from NOAA. There. You’re not lost anymore. You’re welcome (from Navionics, anyway).
Now, a little more objectively. . .Navionics today released the latest version (7.0) of its free app, Navionics Boating, which now includes integration with free U.S. government-produced charts for U.S. coastal and navigable waterways, plus additional shorelines of major lakes and rivers from other public sources.
NOAA ENC Charts Included
This means that the Navionics Boating app is immediately suitable for direct navigation in these waters. NOAA ENCs are vector charts, which means they scale up and down in a completely readable way, and they conform to the International Hydrographic Office (IHO) S-57 standard for electronic charts.
They include all the primary navigation data you need — depths, buoys, beacons, harzards, channel markers and more. Of course, you can also purchase full-featured Navionics charts with enhanced detail and features such as newly improved dynamic tide and current information and displays. The chart on the right here of the north shore of Long Island is a NOAA ENC.
You can see the little blue circle at the lower left labeled “GOVT” which means I’m using a NOAA chart. If you click on that you can opt for a Navionics chart instead, or load one of the cool, crowd-sourced SonarCharts. Also visible in that screen capture is the classic “navigate” button at lowest left, camera and search buttons to upper left, zoom buttons at upper right and a distance measuring tool at bottom right.
The updated app includes several enhanced features:
- Tracking — The Navionics Boating app uses GPS to measure and record performance data. Speed, Trip Time, Course Over Ground, Distance and more are all displayed in a new Tracking Console. Boaters can pause, playback and review a track, and share details with others.
- Expanded Routing — Planning and route creation are also free with the Navionics Boating app. Boaters can measure distances, mark waypoints, create simple routes and save data across mobile devices. The company says wind forecasts include 3-day projections, as well. The app includes a free trial version of a Nav Module ($4.99) that includes Estimated Time of Arrival, Distance to Arrival and more.
- Sharing — App users can share memories of their trips with family and friends via Facebook, Twitter and email. Using a camera function within the app, photos and videos are automatically geo-tagged while recording a trip. Other images, such as tracking screens and stats can be shared, too.
Integration with On-board Electronics
As of the most previous update, v6.0, early this year, Navionics Boating includes Plotter Sync, a new feature that allows on-board electronics to connect to Navionics servers on the Internet for uploading data and downloading new charts or updates.
The company says owners of Raymarine Wi-Fi-enabled plotters — just the first of Navionics’ manufacturer partners compatible with this technology — can now use Navionics Boating as a bridge for this connection, eliminating the need to remove a memory card from the plotter to update it. The App will sync with the chartplotter and provide the update directly.
This is especially cool when users upload and share with Navionics their fishfinder’s recorded sonar tracks, allowing the company to verify and integrate the information in to SonarCharts™ — a new high-definition bathymetry maps that reflects the ever-changing conditions boaters experience in the real world.
I checked out the new version on my iPad and it’s a big change. The inclusion of NOAA ENCs makes a HUGE difference in out-of-the-box usability. If you’re in need of the more detailed and feature-laden Navionics charts, by all means buy them. They’re not that expensive for most areas (at least compared to what we used to spend for charts and updates) and you won’t regret the purchase. But for starters, the NOAA ENCs will get you going and keep you safe. When I fired up my iPad, it didn’t offer me the app update when I went to the App Store, so I deleted the version I had (6.0.3 – the April update) and then downloaded the app again and it was the 7.0 version. I imagine the updating will be automatic and more smooth over the next couple of days (it could also conceivably have been my own iPad’s sometimes flaky relationship with my router). If your older version doesn’t seem to be updating, just delete it and download it anew from the App Store (assuming you don’t have any data saved that you need).
Then, when you start it up, after you acknowledge the EULA and settle on a chart area, you can download the NOAA ENC for that area for free. I downloaded the chart for New England and it was about 68 MB, which downloaded over my Wi-Fi in about 1 minute. Beautiful and ready to navigate. You can see “me” in the screen capture up above, standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking Long Island Sound. I will actually need to board the boat to navigate from here, but the readers come first!
Android Version Coming Soon
Navionics says an Android version of the updated app will be out soon, with features similar to those in the iOS version rolling out throughout the year. You will find that version in the Google Play store; we’ll advise when it’s released.
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