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Ready For An App At
The Helm?

By Lenny Rudow
Published: October/November 2012

Sometimes you might feel like your cellphone is running your life. Well, get ready, because now it's also planning on running your boat and if you're lucky, it might let you stay aboard.

A year ago, we told you how apps and your smartphone could revolutionize life onboard a boat, but things have changed so much since then that it's already time for an update. Or maybe we should call it a redo, because in this short time frame, at least five apps have evolved from assisting you when you operate your boat to actually operating parts of it firsthand.

Before we start examining these adventurous apps, let's get the standard-issue warning out of the way: We don't think you or anyone else should ever rely solely on your cellphone for operating, navigating, or otherwise interfacing with your boat. While cellphones will prove incredibly helpful, they're prone to failure especially in a saltwater environment and they're no substitute for good old-fashioned navigational tools and nautical know-how. Never completely depend on your cellphone for anything beyond creating an embarrassing distraction during your kid's music recital. 'Nuff said, now for the cool stuff…

Furuno TZtouch Remote App

Furuno TZtouch Remote App

Furuno was the first company to offer complete integration between your main navigational suite and your cellphone or iPad. Their NavNet TZtouch system, introduced this past spring, can be driven via the TZtouch Remote app. You'll need to tap into the network with a wireless LAN and then you can bring up any item on the helm display, from radar to chartplotter to fishfinder, and tap on the screen of your phone or iPad to take complete control. The TZtouch can be networked in with your autopilot, so this means you could actually kick back in your seat or in the cockpit, or in the flybridge Jacuzzi, or wherever you like and literally "drive" via your iPhone operating system (iOS). According to Furuno's Advertising and Communications Manager Jeff Kauzlaric, they completely re-engineered their software for TZtouch (using a multi-touch interface similar to the one on tablets and smartphones), which made for a complete integration between the Nav suite and the app.

The app doesn't cost extra (nor does Furuno's Viewer app, which allows you simply to view your electronics on the phone or pad's screen). As an added bonus, you can view screens that aren't currently displayed on the multifunction display (MFD), so you could, for example, take a peek at the fishfinder via your iPhone even when the chartplotter is on the screen at the helm. For now, only iUsers can take advantage of the TZtouch Remote app. Furuno says versions for other platforms (read: Android) will be coming in the future. Free | www.navnet.com

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Lifeproof waterproof iPhone case

Phone Protection

Worried about taking that iPhone on the boat? Then you need a tip-top protective case, like the LifeProof. This handy cell-saver is waterproof, dirt proof, and shockproof. It seals your phone in a polycarbonate frame, with a screen that leaves the phone's screen fully touchable. It can be safely submerged down to 6.6 feet, thanks to acoustic vents at the microphone and speakers, though it may take some adjusting to get them positioned and pressurized properly (or you'll hear an echo on the phone). $79 | www.lifeproof.com

 

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