If you use your iPad for navigation it’s likely you have several navigation apps to meet all your needs. But now there’s a new app called NavPlay, that aims to bring all the capabilities you need together for all the key moments of your boating experience – before, during and after. Route planning, real time tracking, weather, and storing and sharing your experience on the water all come together; hence the name, combining navigation and play.
At the most basic level this is still a navigation app, providing a complete set of tools including a Charting Table for route planning and a Navigation Bridge tracking route progress. One of the features I really like is the ability to create a route by simply drawing a line with your finger along the path you want to take.
This brings out the artist in me, and is so much easier and more intuitive than the other methods of picking or entering waypoints (so long as you don’t get nudged). A full float plan with waypoints is automatically created and can be quickly and easily modified and saved.
In the current version you need to buy Jeppeson charts, but we’ve heard they may eventually follow a similar path as Navionics and introduce a free chart option.
The Navigation Bridge provides a large display of speed and heading data, but it can also be integrated with onboard instruments. With a Vesper Marine WiFi connection, you have easy access to a full set of navigation and instrument data with NMEA0183 and NMEA2000 instruments shown right on your iPad. The layout can also be customized to show more or less instruments, and also reduce the size of some and increase size of others, depending on your needs. You can even set anchor, depth and wind speed alarms, and via Safety Life, send an SMS or email to your mobile phone if an alarm is detected and your iPad is onboard.
But what makes NavPlay really stand out from the other apps is that it also helps you capture your cruising experience. I was encouraged to see a new navigation app for the iPad that focuses on your trips and experiences. The tool is called Experience Maker, and you can use to capture pictures, location, and instrument data together in a logbook. Relive the experience at a later time on your iPad or via the NavigationBook website, or share with friends and family. And according to the developers, we should see future enhancements such as a video feed from an onboard webcam via wi-fi, and voice recognition to make the app easier to use while underway.
My conclusion from some testing with the app: this is a reasonable first version that reaches an ambitious target. However, it took me a while to figure out how the features worked, and I would like to see social media integration from the Logbook and NavigationBook website to share the experience with friends via Facebook or email.
The basic app costs $4.99 and comes with a 15-day trial subscription. After that, to access the navigation bridge and alarms you need a 15 day access plan ($14.99) or a subscription with charts ($49.99).
For more details, visit NavPlay.