GPS manufacturer iFly introduces iPad app
Adventure Pilot has established a small but loyal following over the past few years with their line of low-glare and easy-to-use portable GPSs. Now, the company has made the leap into the app world with the iFly GPS app for the iPad.
Does the world really need another moving map app? Probably not, but Adventure Pilot deserves credit for taking a different approach. The app mirrors the user interface of their dedicated GPS units, which is very flat–there is no menu page like WingX, and while there are buttons at the bottom of the screen like ForeFlight, there aren’t different pages so much as different overlays to the main map page. The end result is that you fly with a moving map page at all times, and select different options to modify the layout.
The app includes all the features you would expect from a modern EFB, including track up navigation, flight plans, complete VFR and IFR charts, in-flight ADS-B weather (with the Dual XGPS170, SkyRadar and Levil devices), plus simple database updates. But beyond the basics, there are a few interesting additions here:
- Dedicated NRST button to locate the closest airport in an emergency, which is really handy (but we didn’t like the fact that it takes 5 taps to go direct to one airport)
- Side view of terrain and obstacles, which can be tapped on for a larger window
- Vector maps (called data-driven by some other companies) that replace sectionals with scalable graphics for a cleaner view.
- Night mode that reverses vector maps and dims digital charts to preserve night vision.
- Instrument panel page or HSI overlay for the map page
- Satellite images of over 12,000 airports, which helps for pre-flight planning
Our biggest complaint has to do with the overall polish and user interface: this very much feels like an app that was copied from an existing GPS. If you’re an existing iFly user, this will be very comforting, but if you’re not you may find it fairly confusing. In addition, many of the menus and graphics are low resolution and look downright blocky on a retina display iPad. The panel page, for example, does not compare favorably to Garmin Pilot’s.
Overall, we found iFly GPS to be an interesting addition to the app market, and one to watch in the future. But we doubt many Garmin or ForeFlight pilots will be switching to it.
The app is available as a free download in the App Store. To unlock full features including chart downloads, a subscription is required. This costs $69.99 for VFR pilots and $109.99 for IFR pilots; existing iFly device owners can add a subscription on their iPad for only $19.99.
I thought the iFly GPS app was actually fairly easy to use. Simple menus and lots of customization options, like the Instrument Layouts. It’s less iPadish and more of an aviation feel.
I personally liked the clarity and crispness of their super clear sectional charts and plates, which I believe is a major miss on your review.
I guess my experience was a little different, because I actually liked the larger buttons and larger text. It has been much easier on my eyes in the air. Had a bit of an iOS 7 flatness.
Just my two cents.
I have been an iFly user for several years, first with the 700 and now the 720. I currently have the 720 in my RV-6A as a “heads-up” display and driving my Trio autopilot. I use the new iFly App, along with WingX, on my iPad mini, also mounted in the -6A. The iFly app on the iPad actually makes a crisper presentation than the WingX. The iFly 720, along with WingX offers an interface with many of the ADS-B receivers, unlike Foreflight and Garmin, which are very limited in their applications. I tried Foreflight and Garmin, but found them to be lacking flexibility compared to WingX and the iFly.
What the article fails to mention is that unlike ForFlight, iFly is also available as an Android App. For a very modest sum, you can have iFly on both your IOS and you Android device.
iFly is still new, but they are actively developing it, with frequent updates. They also seem to be listening to input from their customers. Speaking of which, I hope they improve their terrain display, which I find so counterintuitive as to be useless.
Why would someone switch from ForFlight to iFly? Because iFly gives you freedom in your choice of operating system and ADS-B receiver! iFly runs great on my $200 Google pad, and I will own an ADS-B receiver as soon as competition brings their price down to something I can justify.
Marc has it nailed.
I have been beta testing EFB software for almost ten years, beginning with a Compaq TC1100 tablet. I have concluded that the right way to do it is to have two UIs. One sells the product and includes all the dancing bears, snappy tunes, and designer subtleties of color, transparency, icons, etc. Beloved of the sales department and the art department, it looks great on the web pages and in the customer’s (and reviewer’s) armchair.
Then the second UI has high-viz black against white information, meaningful high-contrast buttons and icons, etc. You can read it in a bright cockpit and people use it when they actually fly. Beauty and the beast.
iFly is a bit of a hybrid. I have just ditched Garmin Pilot and switched to iFly because of its superior “beast-like” UI. But then I have flown with this kind of stuff for a long time and have plenty of negative experience with UIs that please the reviewers and sell the product but which are marginal or worse in real-world flying. YMMV