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March 2013    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 39, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Hey, There’s an App for that Dive

digital dive info worth downloading onto your iGadget

from the March, 2013 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

While the jury is still out on how easy -- or useful -- it is to take your iPhone or Kindle underwater for a dive, the smartphone and tablet revolution has expanded to help you plan, execute and even train for dives. The New York Times and the Canadian magazine Diver recently reviewed several dive-specific apps, and here are the ones we like best.

Dive Log is one of the more comprehensive dive-planning apps at the Apple Store, and worth the $12 price. A quick tap on the "+" button lets you either enter a new dive in an empty template, or use the last dive's log as a template. The interface for entering dive data is intuitive -- twirl dials to set dive depth, or choose from a pre-populated list of dive types, like "fun" or "wreck." It can even sync with dive logs on your computer, show you your overall diving statistics and keep track of your dive buddies' details. But the app is complex so it's easy to get lost in its menus. ( )

Less pricey is iScuba Plan, at $8. It's based on PADI's recreational dive planner, and supports nitrox and air, repetitive dive and instant switching between metric and imperial. The dynamic interface means real-time feedback on any changes, all with easy-to-read color indicators ( ).

The $1 DiveMateGPS is a well-designed dive planner that follows PADI tables for air and nitrox. It plans up to five dives in a sequence, calculating pressure groups for planned dives, pressure groups after surface intervals, max EAN depths, and oxygen exposure of current and previous dives ( ).

Diving Dude is a similar experience, but it's free and even has a few social networking features, like seeing your buddies' recent dive experiences in detail. It relies more than Dive Log on icons to simplify logging dive details, like water visibility or weather. But you have to scroll down to the "save" button to save data, a step that is easy to forget ( ).

If you're an Android user, its free Dive Log app also lets you log detailed dive data. Divers who like to keep precise track of their experiences may even prefer it to the iPhone alternative ( ).

To help with air calculations, iDive Nitrox is a simple, no-frills app for $2. Enter your planned depth and see the calculations instantly. The app immediately gives data max operating depth, contingency depth, equivalent air depth and partial pressure ( ).

On Android, the free Nitrox Calculator app is similar in function ( ).

There are not many marine life ID apps with substantial content, but here are two worth downloading for your iGadgets. Reef Critter Hawaii downloads 374 invertebrate species, and each image is accompanied by a small description, organized by species family and comes with links to external video content. Reef Fish Florida and Caribbean settles those post-dive discussions about angelfish versus emperor fish with 400 photos and descriptions, written by marine life experts. It also comes with links to external videos, and options to store your favorites. Each app is $5 ( ).

For knowledge of worldwide tides and currents, Marine Tides Planner has a long list of global ports, and delivers tide predictions with clear charts and numerical tables. Its map interface for selecting locations is confusing, but you can mark locations as favorites. The app is free for basic tide predictions, but for more precise tidal calculations, there's an in-app purchase option that requires you to pay for extras, ranging from $1 to $4, that make calculations accurate for tidal predictions ( ).

On Android, the free Tides & Currents app does an equally fine job of predicting tides in the near future. It has a slightly confusing alphabetical list of locations, but you can configure it to report ports nearest to your location ( )

If you need a refresher on what sign to use for "going up" versus "going down," Dive Signs, at $1, features more than 170 international scuba signals, categorized into three sections, with options to make favorites. Computer animation in 3D lets you visualize the basic signs, but not all of the signals match what's taught by PADI (the developer states that they are from the U.S. Navy Diving Manual). ( )

If you want to take your iPhone apps underwater on dives, iGills promises to let you. A cross between software and hardware, the $330 iGills is a 130-foot depth-rated iPhone housing, with built-in depth and temperature gauge. Download the app, plug in your iPhone and it becomes a dive computer, digital compass, and still and video camera. It even automatically adds your dives into a log book ( )

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