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Review of Memory-Map Android App

A Full-Featured Charting App for Your Android Device

By

Memory-Map

Memory-Map is a low-cost Android app that like a chartplotter shows you your boat's position on a chart, assuming your Android smartphone or tablet has an internal or external GPS receiver, and offers many navigational functions. It uses standard NOAA raster charts, like many other apps - which display the same as standard paper charts. For many serious sailors, this is the best app now available.

Please note: Since this review was originally written in 2012, Memory-Map has changed its pricing structure and no longer offers a one-time purchase fee with free NOAA (US waters) charts thereafter. Now you have to pay for individual chart downloads, and they are licensed for a limited number of devices in a somewhat complicated scheme. Disregard cost factors in this review.

Version reviewed: Memory-Map Android, public beta version
Available as direct, installable download from the Memory-Map developer, not presently on Android Market
Free trial version, full-featured navigating version $19.98
Tested on Lenovo A1 Tablet running Android 2.3 in 2012

Key Features

  • Download free NOAA raster charts one at a time or by other means
  • Raster charts show full information the same as paper charts (unlike vector charts)
  • Shows boat's moving position on chart (on GPS-enabled devices), optional track
  • When panning and zooming, seamless transition to adjoining charts and between small- and large-scale charts
  • Easily create and edit waypoints and routes
  • Go to waypoints, follow a route - useful navigation functions
  • Chart screen stays clear of buttons and distracting data until you want it
  • Options to show different chart overlays: waypoints, routes, track logs
  • Navigation panel provides a wealth of information including speed (present, average, maximum), present heading (and bearing when navigating), present position in long/lat, time (moving time, ETA waypoint time), distances (traveled, to go to waypoint), and even cross-track error data and velocity made good (VMG) to waypoint - far more navigation information than any other app

The Downside

  • If you need a large number of charts (such as a whole region), it can be tedious to find and download each one at a time; on the other hand, you won't fill your device's storage area as quickly as with some other apps.
  • Help screens available only when online
  • Chart view is chart-up only (usually north-up) - would be nice to have heading-up option
  • No functions for tides, currents, weather (use another app)

Conclusions

This Memory-Map app is simply the best charting and navigational app for sailors using Android devices. While lacking some of the features of the popular Navionics Marine & Lakes app (fun "bells and whistles" I myself have never actually used when out there sailing ), and while its developers might take a cue from MX Mariner, a fine Android app also using raster charts, Memory-Map seems the only one actually designed for sailors and other boaters who want to use the app for a chartplotter rather than just for fun. Serious navigators care about things like cross-track deviation and velocity-made-good when sailing on tacks - and Memory-Map is the only app that offers such data. It also has the easiest to use functions for waypoints, routes, and other common functions.

Although Memory-Map has at this writing just come out for Android (and thus now you get it direct from the developer), the Apple iDevice equivalent PocketNav has been out for some time and was my app of choice in use on the water for an entire boating season. Prior to that, I used (and still do) Memory-Map's PC version on my laptop. And almost a decade ago I was using Memory-Map on those ancient devices that predated the whole Apple and Android smart-device revolution: an iPaq Pocket PC cabled to the first Garmin handheld GPS. My point here is that this company (I have no affiliation or relationship with them) has been around since the beginning and knows well the needs of sailors and other boaters, and they've built outstanding products with the right features. Don't just buy the cheapest app out there or expect a free one like NutiCharts Lite or Marine Charts Lite to work very well; if you can afford boating, you can afford twenty bucks for something you won't regret.

Here’s a comparison of 5 Android apps for boat charts and navigation to help you choose the one best for you.

This app as described here is available for Android devices. For Apple devices, check these apps.

The free Course to Steer Android app is a nice addition to your navigation toolbox: it calculates precisely how to steer to compensate for a current and leeway from the wind - something most plotting programs do not do.

Looking for a waterproof case for your smartphone or tablet? Check out this one.

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