Educational apps make mobile devices boating encyclopedias. ColRegs: Rules of the Road ($2.99) puts the international rules of the road at your fingertips. It is available for both iOS devices or Android. Want to learn how to tie a sheep bend? Download Animated Knots for iOS or Useful Knots on your Android device; they are free. Both can download Animated Knots by Grog from the App Store or Play Store for $4.99 that has all kinds of knots: knots for boating, fishing, camping... even rescue knots. There are apps that find boat ramps. The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation has a free locator on the Play Store as well as apps that give you tide charts. Tides Near Me is a free app available on both platforms. Compass Pro and Compass° are two free apps that make your mobile device a compass. Spyglass for the iPad is a compass app that uses the iPad's camera to point at a distant object and project a compass on the live image acting as a heads up display. It also acts as a sun, moon and star finder, a rangefinder, a sextant and more for only $3.99.
Useful information such as First Aid Afloat ($2.99) and the free app Marine Weather by AccuWeather can be more than helpful when dealing with adverse situations. MyRadar Weather Radar is a popular forecasting tool with over 17 million downloads and is available for free from both the App Store and the Play Store.
But the real driver in the popularization of mobile devices onboard is the advancements in navigation apps. Today a tablet can virtually replace the need for a dedicated chart plotter.
Apps such as Navonics and Jeppesen Plan2Nav are free to download with specific charts starting at around $30.00. Both provide the same detailed chart found on GPS plotters. The beauty of having this capability on a mobile device is the portability. Cruisers can plan their course wherever and whenever, then use the device to track their course underway. Add a Dual universal Bluetooth GPS receiver ($100.00 from Amazon or Garmin), GLO portable GPS and GLONASS receiver ($100.00 from Amazon) for increased accuracy from your mobile device.
The Digital Yachts iAIS receiver (around $500.00 from iMarine USA) is an Automatic Identification System (AIS) that tracks ships through the Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) for identifying and locating vessels and plotting their location, course and speed. The real magic is the unit can multiplex all the NEMA data that is available on the boat, such as GPS data, depth, speed, wind, etc. The data is combined with the AIS data into a single wireless feed that is available for the both iOS and Android mobile devices and compatible apps.
There are hundreds of boating apps that can improve your boating experience. Explore your options on the platform you prefer, the App Store for your iOS devices or the Play Store for your Android devices.