The realWind (Wind NOAA) app from Flytomap does one, and only one, thing - but it does it well, and you really can't complain much about a free app. When it knows your location (by GPS or wi-fi fix), it displays a map with superimposed wind arrows that indicate present and forecast wind speed and direction at points all over the map.
Note: the exact title of this app is a bit confusing, making it somewhat difficult to find on the web or at the iTunes store. At iTunes it's titled "Wind NOAA" and can't be found by searching "realWind." The app itself calls itself "realWind" and doesn't reference the phrase "Wind NOAA" anywhere. Weird. Good luck finding it even mentioned at all on the Flytomap website, and elsewhere on the web it may be called by one name or the other.
The app is free and not marketed well, but it seems essentially a hook to lead users into other Flytomap products, which are mostly maps (with satellite and photos and other bells and whistles) for lakes, parks, travel locations, etc. - as well as a marine chart version. The marine mapper ("FlyToMap GPS HD") is more a tourist product than a serious chartplotter like PocketNav or Charts and Tides. But if you ignore these other products, the wind app is a nice freebie for boaters to get a quick look at wind conditions.
- Version reviewed: not identifiable. Current version: 1.4 for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad
- Apparently not available presently for Android (other Flytomap products are)
- Free (with promotional links to other Flytomap products)
What It Does
At first use, allow Wind NOAA to use your location (determined by an onboard or external GPS when available, or wi-fi location services), which is saved as the default thereafter. Then you are presented with the app's one screen, which shows wind arrows on a map derived from Google's satellite view with place name labels (see photo). Functions:
- As in a standard Google map, you can scroll or pan with finger swipes, and zoom in or out with 2-finger pinching
- Standard wind arrows show direction and speed (number and size of arrow "feathers")
- Arrows also color-coded by wind intensity, keyed to the legend along the right of the screen
- Date and time displayed at the top of screen
- Current conditions at startup, but tapping the right arrow moves you forward through forecast winds in 3-hour increments
- Connectivity required to get current data, which is saved and available later if connectivity is lost
Presumably the wind data displayed is sourced from NOAA or the National Weather Service and is assumed to be accurate.
The simplicity of this app is a virtue in this case. If you're going sailing and don't need all kinds of other weather data, a single tap on your device almost instantly brings up the wind map.
If you need more info, use an app like MarineCast for more extensive weather information including temperature, tides, graphed changes, and much more. And probably the best app for wind forecasts is the free version of PredictWind for both Apple and Android devices.
PocketGrib is another effective app for showing wind weather forecasts in your area. There is a free Android version with limited functionality, but the Apple versions cost more than you need to pay for this information.