Last August, we reported on the new Delorme inReach, a Bluetooth device that provides two-way satellite communication capability for any iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad or Android device (check out the original report here). In a lot of ways, this device is perfect for general aviation pilots who often fly to out-of-the-way places. We’ve heard from many pilots who are using this on a wide variety of missions, and a recent firmware update brings even better tracking.
This is the first in a series of articles where we’ll review the year that was in the iPad aviation world, then make some predictions about what to expect in 2013. Today’s topic is apps: the new ones that appeared in 2012, the updates to the existing ones and the state of the market.
It seems like every year is “the year of the iPad,” and 2012 could certainly stake a claim to that again. Apple’s tablet definitively entered the mainstream among pilots, whether as approved Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs) for airline pilots or all-in-one portable navigators for private pilots. But look below the surface and you’ll see a tablet and an operating system that is pretty mature. Apple added a retina screen and some other tweaks, but the basic platform in 2012 is fairly similar to what it was in 2011.
The big action this year was in the app world. Once a collection of homemade apps and novelties, the world of aviation apps has become a fully developed market, one that is served by experienced companies with broad product offerings. The established players added some amazing features this year, while new entrants tried to shake things up. One thing is for sure, though: there is more creativity and energy in the app segment than almost anywhere else in aviation right now.