Latest Garmin Pilot update adds night mode, document sync

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The heavyweight fight between ForeFlight and Garmin continues. The same week ForeFlight released its biggest update in recent memory, Garmin unveiled their own app update, version 10.1. This is hardly the big overhaul that ForeFlight delivered, but it does offer some nice additions and thoughtful modifications to popular features.

Night mode

Garmin Pilot now offers a fairly comprehensive night mode feature to dim the screen during flights after sunset. We’ve noticed that the vivid colors used on Garmin’s Map page are particularly bright at night, so this is very helpful. From the Map page, tap Menu, then Night Mode. You can see the contrast below.

Night mode is also an option on approach charts, both Garmin FliteCharts and Jeppesen. Tap Menu again and Night Mode.

Remember that there’s also a slider bar to adjust overall screen brightness on the Charts page. This is accessed by tapping the sun symbol at the bottom left corner of the screen:

Better annotations

Staying on the Charts page, Garmin has simplified and improved the annotation option for approach plates. There are now three dedicated buttons at the top left: marker, highlighter, and eraser. Tap on the pencil and paper icon at the top right, then tap on each tool to select it. You can tap on the marker and eraser again to choose options for color and thickness.

Document sync

As electronic flight bag apps have grown beyond just weather and charts, documents have become a more important part of the package. Many pilots keep digital versions of operating manuals or performance charts on their iPads, and some professional pilots keep customs information, standard operating procedures, and letters of authorization as PDFs. Now Garmin Pilot will keep these documents synced across all devices on your account, so it’s easy to load once and then retrieve it from your phone or tablet. You’ll notice a green check when the document is synced. You can also sort the document folders or change the folder colors to stay organized. Garmin also does a nice job of keeping you updated on previous versions of documents.

Logbook enhancements

Garmin Pilot has always had solid logbook features, but now you can visualize your recent flying experience on a map. Tap on Logbook from the main menu, then the Reports tab. You can choose all dates, 30 days, six months, etc. The app will show visited airports over that time period. Tap on an airport for details on the date and duration of your flights. If nothing else, it’s a nice way to check off new airports on your summer flying list.

The logbook also has some new fields that are particularly helpful for aircraft owners. In addition to the usual fields for total time, landings, and route, you can add oil level, oil added, expenses and even squawks. This makes Garmin Pilot a lightweight airplane management tool, and we’re interested to see if more features are coming here.

Updated radial menu

This is one of Garmin Pilot’s signature features: tap and hold on the map anywhere and you’ll get a contextual menu. This offers quick access to additional information, like airspace, airports, or direct-to navigation. Now the radial menu also shows terrain elevation for the place you tapped (in addition to the bearing and distance from your current location). This is handy for planning low level flights or emergency diversions.

Other updates

You can use Apple AirPrint printers (very common these days) to print a variety of documents directly from the app, including airport diagrams, approach charts, weight and balance sheets, and navlogs. Tap the up arrow from any compatible document, and choose Print.

Garmin Pilot also supports the new Pencil 2 stylus, which some pilots carry as a handy way to copy information in flight. You can double tap to switch between the marker and highlighter when annotating a chart, or show the color palette.

Garmin Pilot version 10.1 is a free update in the App Store.

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