New flight tracking app released for Apple Watch

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If you’re like most pilots, you look up to the sky every time you hear an airplane flying above and try to guess the type and where it’s going. If you have time, you might even reach for your phone and launch one of the many free aircraft tracking apps to learn more, like aircraft type, altitude and destination. It’s a fun way to hone your aircraft spotting skills on clear days using the tech you already own.

Pilots and aviation enthusiasts with an Apple Watch can add another resource to help identify air traffic, in the form of the new PlaneWatcher app. This app displays a well-organized map showing high-resolution traffic symbols, flight number and nearby airports for reference.

The app uses the compass and accelerometers in the watch to smoothly rotate the orientation of the map and traffic relative to the direction you’re facing, which is pretty slick when you see it in action for the first time. You can zoom in and out on the map using the digital crown and drag your finger to pan around the screen.

Here are examples of a wide view of traffic in the Cincinnati area, and then a close-up of a Piper Aztec on final approach at our local airport:

Tap any of the aircraft symbols for full details, including flight name, registration, type, category, operator, altitude, speeds and more (depending on data availability).

PlaneWatcher shows all aircraft, unfiltered, using data provided by ADSBExchange. In addition to viewing traffic near your local location, you can also enter any airport identifier and jump right to that location.

There is also an impressive list of customization and filtering options too, including the ability to filter by altitude, aircraft type, callsign or registration. The map can also be customized to show or hide airplanes, balloons, helicopters and UAVs, as well as ground features like airport location, runways, ICAO codes and more.

And thanks to the app’s support for home screen complications (shortcuts), you can launch the app in literally seconds and start identifying traffic. The app is only available for Apple Watch, so you’ll need to head to the dedicated App Store from your watch’s screen to purchase and download the app for $2.99.

8 COMMENTS

    • Larry,

      the WatchOS 7.0+ requirement is stated on the website and the App Store was supposed to stop you from buying the app if your device didn’t fulfill that requirement. Not sure what happened there. You should be able to get a refund from Apple, please read here how: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204084

      I apologize for the inconvenience.

      Miklos

      • Miklos, thank you for developing an Apple Watch app that appears to be very cool and helpful. Unfortunately, my fancy Series 1 Apple Watch doesn’t appear to have the horsepower and/or memory to run it. Hopefully, I’ll be able to upgrade soon. I wanted to point out what appears to be a misunderstanding with the post above and your response to the post. It was mentioned the app requires an Apple Watch 7 or later. This has to be incorrect and probably confusing the Apple Watch OS (operating system) and watch series, which have no relationship as far as I can tell. Apple just released the latest Apple Watch Series 6 a couple of months ago and a Series 7 watch does not even exist. According to Apple, the newest Apple Watch OS 7.0 (also just released recently) works on all Apple Watches back to Series 3 assuming you also have an Apple 6S or newer version phone – it just needs to be uploaded. Hope that helps clarify. Thanks.

        • Mark,

          thanks for your kind reply. I’ve assumed that Larry meant WatchOS 7 and not Watch Series 7. Thanks for pointing out the difference between the two, as my assumption might have been incorrect and there could’ve been a misunderstanding.

          I hope you’ll be able to upgrade to a newer Watch so you can try to app. In the meantime, if you’d like, you can follow us at @plane_watcher on Twitter to keep you posted about the latest news.

          Thanks,
          Miklos

  1. Bad review leaving out the minimum requirements including the cost for just the app and then the weekly or annual subscription costs.

    • Greenleaf,

      it’s the developer of PlaneWatcher here. My app that was linked in the article has a one-time charge of $2.99 (in the US, might vary slightly in other countries) and there’s absolutely no subscription fee. The one-time fee is clearly stated in the App Store when you buy it.

      You must’ve downloaded a different app! Could you please clarify which one you’re talking about?

      Thanks,
      Miklos

  2. I bought the app for $3.12 on my card only to discover they want $5.00 per week. I deleted it since my watch is series four. I must now figure how to stop charges on my account.
    They claim a three day free trial so why was I charged $3.12 to download.

    • Regis,
      it’s the developer here. You must’ve downloaded a different app. My PlaneWatcher app that was linked in the article has a one-time charge of $2.99 (in the US, might vary slightly in other countries) and there’s absolutely no subscription fee. The one-time fee is clearly stated in the App Store when you buy it.
      Thanks,
      Miklos

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