In less than eight months, Garmin has established its Garmin Pilot app as a worthwhile competitor to other moving-map and electronic flight bag (EFB) applications. An improved version of the Pilot My-Cast app for Apple’s popular iPad and iPhone, Garmin Pilot was also launched for use on a wide range of Android smartphones and tablets. Both versions offer similar features and usability, though there also are some distinct differences.
First, the similarities. Android and iOS versions of Garmin Pilot allow users to create and file (through Duats) flight plans, and display route of flight and aircraft position against a VFR sectional or IFR chart along with TFR information, Nexrad and wind and temperature aloft data. A $99 annual subscription includes AOPA Airport Directory information, geo-referenced sectionals and IFR en route charts, and static IFR FliteCharts and SafeTaxi airport diagrams. Users may add geo-referenced versions of the latter two features for additional fees.
“The greatest benefit for me using this app in my IFR training is the ability to carry just my tablet with me,” said Miranda Rydstrom, who uses Garmin Pilot on her Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet and Galaxy S3 smartphone. “I also think it’s valuable to be able to switch from VFR sectionals to low en route charts, and switch so easily from satellite weather to TFRs to fuel prices.”
CFI Loren Jones uses Garmin Pilot on his Nexus 7 Android tablet, as well as an iPad, presenting the opportunity to compare both versions. “The initial Android version appears to have been designed as a trimmed-down version for phones,” he noted. “It wasn’t optimized for the tablet form-factor.” Jones added that Garmin recently issued an update with significant improvements specifically for the Nexus 7, “including a navigational data bar across the top with eight displays for speed, altitude, etc. That was in the iPad version all along.”
Garmin spokeswoman Mika Cohn acknowledged some differences remain between the iPad and Android versions of Garmin Pilot. “The iOS version of Garmin Pilot came out [as Pilot My-Cast] a year and a half before the Android version,” she noted. “We’ve also continued to innovate on the iOS platform. Both factors contribute to the difference in features between the two platforms.”
That said, Garmin seems intent on increasing capabilities on both platforms, including the addition of features from its dedicated handheld and panel-mounted GPS devices. For example, a Panel Page–displaying a GPS-derived simulated HSI, as well as groundspeed, altitude and vertical speed indicators–is available on most of Garmin’s aviation GPS units and the iPad version of Garmin Pilot. Cohn said Android users should expect Panel Page to be added on their devices by the end of the year. “We are very committed to Android and we are continually coming out with new releases to bring enhanced features and functionality that platform,” she added.
One noteworthy benefit for Garmin Pilot users on both platforms is the ability to link, via Bluetooth, with Garmin’s GDL 39 portable ADS-B receiver. When connected, the GDL 39 streams ADS-B IN datalink information such as GPS Waas to the app, as well as subscription-free Flight Information Service-Broadcast (FIS-B) weather and limited Traffic Information Service-Broadcast (TIS-B) information.