Previously I blogged a review of the Navionics charts app for the iPhone and noted it was more a chart viewer than a navigation tool.
Well one of the good things about iPhone apps is they are constantly being updated - and the update is available for free to existing users. And Navionics have released a new version V1.5 and its got some useful tools in it.
One of the biggest problems with the old one was the lack of scale - if you went to an area you didn't already know there was no way of knowing whether the charts on the screen covered an area of 1, 10 or 100 square miles.
However there is now a distance tool that allows you to place pins and it will tell you how far apart they are. The pins (which are rather nicely rendered and have a 3d like shadow) can be dragged and dropped to new locations. However you can't enter their locations as lat/longs directly.
There's also access to tide information with diamonds on the chart you can click on to get tide HW/LW times, rates, and directions.
But not sure I'd rely on them for a passage. Look on the picture below of the tide prediction in Weymouth harbour. I know the tide around there is strong, but the water height won't have discontinuities like this unless there are tsunamis on the way:
But its a positive sign that Navionics are working on it. The markers could be the basis of waypoints and from that all sorts of useful goodies could come.
One suggestion that might be the case is actually one of the criticisms of this release - the waste of space of the A-B button on the lower toolbar. If it was the only additional button you'd put it on the top next to setttings. If however you can foresee a whole list of buttons for call up new features then you'd design in space on both the top and bottom of the screen.
But it would be nice if there was a left/right or top/bottom edge scale that showed distance in the selected units, with maybe a switch on/off grid.
Update: Update V1.6 released and reviewed here.