Huge Update with Skipper 3.0

Skipper version 3.0 is now available in the App Store.

In Skipper 3.0, we totally changed how the free version works. We abolished the “Trial Mode,” and now most Skipper features work even if you don’t subscribe.

Now, the free version of Skipper lets you browse charts online, make routes, record trips, and more. This is much more complete than the simple chart viewer offered for free before.

Upgrading to SkipperPro gives you the following capabilities:

Download the Free Skipper App today to get the most up to date NOAA charts for the US.

TrySkipper.com gets an upgrade

Today we shipped a big update to TrySkipper.com. There is a much better online chart viewer, where you can peruse NOAA charts and other map sources. Additionally, the public gallery and the trip/route pages the Gallery links to also got a major upgrade.

Besides improving the UI, we also made significant improvements to the speed of the chart viewer and other pages. A lot of this work stems from similar work we have been doing on gaiagps.com. You may also notice that cloud.tryskipper.com is no more, and everything is served from the more common www.tryskipper.com.

Stay tuned, we have a wave of other updates coming for the iOS app and website in August!

Apple features Gaia GPS, again, twice

We were delighted to get Apple’s newsletter this morning, featuring screenshots of Gaia GPS on top. The newsletter links to the “Elevating the Expedition” verse Apple made to show the iPad and Gaia GPS in the Himalayas, and the newsletter complements the story that is still running on the front of apple.com.

Screenshot 2014-03-24 11.05.35

In addition, we noticed on Friday that both Gaia GPS and Skipper were included in Apple’s new Camping & Hiking iTunes feature.  Not only are the apps featured, but they are ranked prominently (1st and 2nd) in their categories in the feature.

Screenshot 2014-03-24 11.22.02

 

It’s starting to seem like you can’t use iTunes without running into one of our apps! Our simple topo apps, Offline Topo Maps, is also heavily featured in the Education category, in various collections, which leads to various bulk education orders.

Pretty neat, and it’s nice to see the deck being stacked for a vigorous little company like us!

Open TileMill projects for open data

In the past few months, we’ve been making a lot of maps at TrailBehind, and since we’re using open data, along with MapBox’s open source TileMill tool, we thought it would be appropriate to open source the stylesheets we developed, too.

You can now check out all of our CartoCSS style sheets and related assets from GitHub. We have styles for tiling data like state hunting game zones, US river charts, topo maps, and more. Pop over to our maps page to browse the live maps that we made with TileMill, CartoCSS, and Postgres. The is a living project, and we expect to add many more styles in 2014.

We hope that our work can make it easier for anyone out there working with open data, particularly the open US government data we are interested in. We also want to note that if you create an open CartoCSS style sheet, we’d be happy to host and publish just about any map you want to use in Gaia GPS. Pull requests are welcome!

When we founded this company and started writing apps many years ago, we always avoided cartography, instead choosing to work with 3rd parties to get our maps. We still pay to license a bunch of great maps, but MapBox’s stack of tools has thrown open the doors for us to make maps. Given we had no previous experience, that means two things – these tools are great, and you can do it too.

Here’s one of our styles, that shows some OSM data in the style of USGS topos.

OSM data styled like USGS topos.

OSM data styled like USGS topos.

Skipper v1.3 is live on the App Store

We are moving along with our development of Skipper, and we just released both an updated app, plus an updated set of Inland River Charts from the Army Corps of Engineers. I’m happy to report that Skipper has accrued almost 1,000 paying subscribers since we started in August, and Skipper is used by hundreds of boaters daily.

 

Our last update, v1.2, was a big overhaul, and 1.3 is limited to bug fixes and optimizations. A few hours after Skipper 1.3’s initial release, the app has been loaded hundreds of times and is super-solid, besides being packed with features of data collection and charting on the water.

Skipper also now has good charts of the Mississippi and other central rivers, along with NOAA charts, USGS topos, and satellite imagery of the world.

 

Inland River ENCs – New Experimental Layer

You can now add an Inland River chart source, by going to “Add More Sources” from the main map layers menu. You can also browse the charts and add them to Skipper (or Gaia GPS) at this link.

This source is an experimental layer, and we would like to request feedback from all Skipper users who cruise the Mississippi or other rivers charted by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Please send us any bugs or feedback for these charts at support@tryskipper.com. We are aware of the following outstanding issues:

  • additional icons for day beacons and obstructions (using one generic icon now)
  • fill in the depth contour lines with white
  • add mile marker labels for sailing line

Technical Details

  • We rendered the map using TileMill, by passing the S57 vectors into Postgres/PostGIS. We will open source the style sheet and data processing scripts, after we finish the styling project.
  • The project is lead by Savannah Henderson, with support from Jesse Crocker, David Chiles, Anna Johnson, and friendly people on #mapbox on IRC.

The basic Skipper download is now free

When we first launched Skipper, we started the pricing at .99 for the basic download, plus $11.99/year to use all the data, weather, and other features. Today, we’re making the basic download free, and we’re going to see how that goes.

Our reasoning for making the basic download .99 was that there are some periodic costs to us, even in the basic version. We wanted to make sure only boaters were downloading Skipper, and making the download cost a buck seemed like a good test of interest. We also thought we might avoid reviews from non-boaters saying stuff like “OMG what are these funny maps? 1 star!” With Skipper 1.1 out, we thought we’d test our assumptions.

If you are interested in Skipper, you might also want to check it out now. While the subscription price is 12.99 today (and will remain that way for anyone who subscribes before we up the price), we do eventually plan to charge more like $25/year, which is more reasonable given our costs, and still well below the other (good) apps out there.