Choosing Boating iPhone Apps for GPS Marine Navigation on Boats

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New downloadable iPhone applications for boating enable portable GPS marine navigation that is convenient, cost-saving technology ideal for small boats

Apple iPhones have grown in popularity because of their ease of use and wide availability of applications that enable special features. The boating industry has recognized this trend and is introducing new boating iPhone apps, such as GPS marine navigation, that offer boaters conveniences on the water. Apps are also available to work on iPod touch and iPads.

More and more boaters are choosing downloadable GPS applications for Apple iPhones as a cost-effective and convenient portable navigation option on the water. Ideal for smaller boats, an iPhone app for GPS navigation can eliminate the need for more expensive hand held GPS devices.

Boaters should consider all of the conveniences and functionality when choosing to download a new GPS navigation application for an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad.

Conveniences of Boating iPhone Apps as Portable Navigation

Applications for the Apple iPhone make carrying an iPhone a multi-use device. A GPS marine navigation app turns an iPhone into a valuable and convenient portable navigation system on the water.

For boaters, there are many advantages and conveniences to using an iPhone as a portable marine navigation device:

• Cost savings. A downloadable GPS application for an iPhone can cost about $50 USD. The savings can be hundreds or thousands when compared to a hand held or dash mounted GPS device. A GPS app gives a boater the power of a color chartplotter for a fraction of the cost.

• Space savings. Space is a premium on a boat. Having one device with multiple uses (phone, camera, GPS and more) is a space saver.

 Portability. An iPhone is very mobile and can be easily transported from one boating destination to another. A boater renting a small boat while on vacation can simply bring their iPhone for a portable navigation system while traveling. Using a rugged case like an OtterBox Defender case will help to protect your iPhone while on the water.

Using Marine Charts or GPS Navigation with an iPhone Application

The first question boaters should ask about GPS iPhone apps is whether or not it is a reliable option for navigation. Understanding how marine GPS applications work on an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad will help a boater decide if a downloadable app is right for them.

An iPhone application is essentially charting software that will enable you to utilize nautical charts such as official U.S. NOAA nautical charts or admiralty digital charts from the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO). After purchasing the iPhone application, the nautical charts are downloaded onto your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad device.

Requirements for Portable GPS Navigation with iPhone Apps

Downloaded iPhone boating applications with GPS navigation do not require a cell or WIFI internet connection to use the marine charts or maps. An internet connection is needed to initially download the application and charts and then they operate independently on your iPhone device. Each chart or map downloaded typically takes less than 1 MG of space on the iPhone.

Nautical charts and maps are selected and can be updated online as needed for various boating destinations. Navigation software can also utilize built-in location services through GPS, cell phone or WIFI to plot locations real time on marine charts and maps. Be sure to also look for features that support real-time plotting, waypoints & routes, log tracking and GRIB weather forecasts when choosing boating iPhone apps for GPS marine navigation.

Sources: Boating Industry, iTunes

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Diane Seltzer

Diane Seltzer

Founder & Editor at My Boat Life
Diane is the founder of as well as the boating lifestyle site for kids Active in the boating industry, Diane is founder of Marine Marketing Tools, a collaborative site for sharing marine marketing best practices. Diane is also the author of the children's book The Amazing Adventures of Boat Girl.


    1. iNavX is very popular, but a bit pricey. Also Navionics has apps for different parts of the world, less expensive and worth checking out. You could also look into free ones to see if using apps for navigation is something you really want to do before investing in a higher cost app.

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