Navionics Boating app AIS feature, great idea but…

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

21 Responses

  1. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    PS The WiFi AIS feature is only available in the Navionics Boating app if you have a current subscription, which I think fair.

    But receiving GPS and Depth over WiFi does not require a subscription, presumably because that data is needed to collect SonarChart data which benefits Navionics (and the rest of us).

  2. says:

    This is great stuff. I do hope that Internet ais data also becomes an option for those who don’t have receivers. Anything that increases safety is a good thing. My issue is that I use my iPad with a raymarine wi-fish fish finder for sonar charts. That also on WiFi, so I cannot connect to the sonar chart device and the ais one at the same time. I wonder if there are Bluetooth ais receivers and navionics would allow that type of connection.

  3. Tom Poes says:

    It is a dramatic feature what navionics implements.
    We tested it and it is in one word; unsafe app.

    We tested against opencpn with random transponders and receivers. It seems that several AIS targets are not shown or even disappear from the screen. far away and nearby.

    We are convinced that it is a real Béta version and is really not grown up for publishing!

    What fails:
    – No AIS target list
    – No CPA from target
    – No TCPA from target
    – very weak AIS symbols
    – No UDP network connection possible
    – No AIS target vectors
    – No AIS target tracks possible

    When connecting with a Ipad, we could not change to UDP and all other devices where disconnected.

    Unbelievable in this AIS era.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Thanks, Tom. I too wish that Navionics had held off with the AIS feature until it was more completely developed, but their improvement plans sound good. Also, I think it’s great that the most popular boating app — their claim, but I don’t doubt it — has introduced a wider audience to this “dramatic feature.”

      • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

        I certainly agree that it doesn’t appear Navionics’ AIS functionality is ready for prime time. But, in some communications with Navionics, they mentioned they like to get features out as they’re completed and not hold them back. I think this time around they might not have struck the right balance but I do applaud them for being aggressive about getting new features out.

  4. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Yesterday I set up one of the three data servers available on the Actisense W2K-1 as UDP with the port address 2000 and Navionics Boating immediately connected to the AIS, Depth, and GPS data the W2K-1 is getting from Gizmo’s NMEA 2000 network. (The latter two values seem fidgety but maybe I should try it underway; and the Actisense bridge is misidentified as a “Digital Yacht WLN10”.)

    At any rate, I don’t know how Boating’s auto-discovery works, but it seems to like port 2000 (if you have source that can be customized).

  5. Thomas Kaiser says:

    I totally agree that the new AIS feature is useless and unsafe. Wonder why the navionics people haven’t tried out the competitors features before spending time on developing the AIS function ?
    Normally I prefer to use Navionics on my Ipad as a backup to my Raymarine plotter, but when I need the AIS function here in the Mediterranian I turn to InavX. And I will probably keep on doing this for a while….

  6. Lance Berc says:

    SeaIQ can take AIS data from WiFi and cellular internet simultaneously – and has the good sense to show the two sources in different colors.

  7. Bruce Balan says:

    Hi Ben,
    It is good news that Navionics is finally starting to move in the right direction and catching up with features that are standard in any good navigation program. OpenCPN has supported AIS\NMEA\TCP/IP for years. And, as you point out, iNavX has been doing NMEA over TCP/IP the right way for a very long time. I wish Navionics would learn from programs like OpenCPN how a charting application should work. Navionics is an average app at best. The only reason I use it (as a backup) is because of the reasonable price for world-wide charts. There are so many flaws in the program; for example, not allowing one to delete a single chart area without deleting all charts on an Android tablet.
    Would love to see Navionics offer a plug-in to allow OpenCPN access to Navionics charts. Then we wouldn’t have to rely on out-of-touch engineers to try to create a decent app (at least a decent app for use by bluewater cruisers).

  8. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Cool! Version 14.3 of Navionics Boating, out yesterday for my iPad, lets you manually add a WiFi data connection. The feature looks complete too — you can select UDP or TCP, for instance, and also name the source — and I hope to try it soon.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      I’ve just given 14.3 a try and I’m not seeing very good results. I have a Yacht Devices YDWG on the boat. Navionics incorrectly autodetects it as a Digital Yacht WLN10. If I try and add the YDWG manually the two devices seem to fight with one going active and then the other. This happens multiple times per second and results in no data seen. If I just let the auto detection happen that seems to work, but I’m not getting depth. It appears that that’s because Navionics isn’t seeing GPS data sent with the sonar data, though separately in the status it does show “External GPS: Receiving data”.

      I think Navionics is making progress but I would say that it’s still not ready for prime time. I still don’t see the ability to see AIS data like size of vessel, time of target data, etc.


    • Lance Berc says:

      Have had trouble with multiple sensors sending the same sentences with conflicting data. It will become more common as things like GPS and heading chips become less expensive (driven by cell phone industry). For instance, one boat I’m on has three GPS sources and two heading sensors, just because they came bundled with other functionality. Software will have to gain the ability to select/prioritize sources and/or gateways will need the ability to filter them.

  9. Xavier Itzmann says:

    Lance’s comment is spot on. For example. I have a Garmin Quatix watch that gets its data from a GNT-10 wireless gateway. If only the N2K is on (for example, when we are at anchor), all the data on the Quatix works. The minute one of the B&G chart plotters is turned on, however, the Quatix loses depth (and only depth). I think this might be because of the presence of a ScanForward that also provides depth.

    I find the Navionics green AIS targets blend in too easily with everything else, and wish I knew how to adjust the color. Red would be nice.

  10. Lance Berc Lance Berc says:

    Having looked into it a bit more…
    Most N2K WiFi gateways convert N2K to NMEA-0183, but 0183 doesn’t really have a field for the source device so it gets lost in the translation. Thus end devices can’t discern sources for conflicting data – the filtering will have to be done by the gateway. I believe the newer Yacht Devices gateways can do this but after looking at the manual programming the N2K filters is not for the faint of heart.

  11. Christian says:

    Works also with DIY Android AIS Receiver.
    see my blog

    and here a small tutorial for Navionics how to configure.

    As Ben mentioned: WiFi AIS feature is only available in the Navionics Boating app if you have a current subscription…

  12. Tiemo von Zweck says:

    Hello Bill,

    Do you have any knowledge of changes to Navionics / Boating since writing this excellent article that allows one to view CPT / TCPA, or if the reliability of the AIS has improved. Below I’ve cut and pasted Navionics description of their AIS features as of today 11/2/2021.

    Target Information
    You’ll be able to distinguish moving (opaque) or still (transparent) vessels around you and specific categories.
    Select any target to see vessel details such as, name, MMSI, IMO, Call sign, status, speed, heading, coordinates, distance from your GPS location, and more.

    Thank you

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