UPDATED (July 2019): The popular Navionics mobile app now has basic support for displaying AIS targets with data passed over Wi-Fi from supported AIS transponders. Currently Vesper, AMEC and em-trak AIS transponders with Wi-Fi features work with Navionics.
Apple iPads have become a really interesting platform for marine apps. There are literally dozens of apps that span everything from charting to radar to tides and currents.
In addition, there are some great marine devices that now support sending instrument data such as GPS and AIS sentences to an iPad or iPhone using wireless technology. If you have recently bought a Vesper Marine XB-8000 or Vision2 or an AMEC B600W, chances are you probably want to use the device eventually with an iPad or other computing device.
In this post, I have attempted to provide a simple comparison table of some of the most popular iPad apps that can be used for marine navigation or AIS display. The comparison includes key features such as AIS support or the ability to interface the app with a wireless marine device. I also include the price for each app as well as the costs for in-app purchases for extra features such as high quality charts and weather.
Use this chart as a starting point for finding an app that has the features you need as well as one that will fit your budget. Many of these apps have free or limited function versions that can help with your evaluation. But note that some apps require an extra purchase for charts so keep that in mind as you do your own research. Buying multiple chart regions for long voyages can really impact the total cost. The information provided is based on my own research. We do not sell these apps, so I have tried to be as unbiased as possible in our evaluation. If you see errors or have apps you'd like to see added, please contact us or comment below.
If you are looking for more information on using an iPad on your boat, check out my presentation I gave at the Seattle Boat Show: Using Your iPad Aboard.
I might also recommend you check out the blog here which has lots of detailed reviews and information on apps and devices.
Enjoy and safe boating.