The sea utterly fascinates me. As a self-confessed introvert, solo exploration and life causes butterflies to flutter around my stomach. Whether it’s a tiny islet under international dispute or crazy sea captains going it alone, I love the wide open ocean.
I also take a perverted pleasure in tracking ships on my phone. There is no logical reason for this — I just find it cool.
I’m not alone in my love of ships, islands and the deep blue. In fact there are literally hundreds of apps in the Play Store geared towards people like me: games, guides, simulators and utilities to appease my need for nautical nourishment.
Otherwise known as the awesomeness that is Battleship, it’s arguably one of the most recreated games of all time. Whether it’s 11 year old boys playing at the back of a classroom on paper or a multi-million dollar movie which wasn’t really that good, this game rocks.
It holds true to the tried and tested Battleship formula of plotting your fleet and hoping your opponent doesn’t hit them with their naval guns. You can play against the computer or a nearby opponent over Bluetooth.
The app itself doesn’t try to impress us with fancy 3D graphics or animation. No Sir. It’s done in the style of scrap paper and blue ink.
Great looks and great fun
And it looks awesome. There’s some nice sound effects too – a watery ‘bloop’ indicating your missile has sunk to the bottom of the ocean, and an explosion indicating a direct hit. Seriously addicting.
I love knowing where ships are, where they’re coming from and where they’re going. Military, cargo, fishing, and pleasure super yachts are all listed in Ship Finders. It mirrors what the website does: presents the user with a world map, showing all the known ships. The closer you zoom the more vessels become available to view and track.
The only downside to using this kind of application on a small phone is that viewing busy shipping routes must be done close up – otherwise the entire screen will be filled with ship cursors as you can see below.
Find a ship anywhere in the world
There are several different types of ship cursors for different types of vessils such as military, cargo or fishing. Selecting one will bring up information about the ship such as flag nation, size and maybe a picture. You can also track ships from here or view the course they’ve ploted thus far.
This is a cool app for anyone who loves the Ship Finder website. The only downside is that, unlike the website, it comes with a price tag.
Probably the most frustratingly difficult gaming experience I’ve had since the fourth island in Bridge Constructor. The aim of the game is initially to secure an island using your only ship. You must then mine resources to build island assets such as a foundry and marketplace to trade. The end-game is ultimately to build up enough resources to take over subsequent islands. Once you’ve achieved all the level’s objectives, you win!
Unfortunately, to throw a spanner in the works, you’re pitted against rivals trying to do the exact same thing. Islands have to be quickly snapped up before the enemy depletes their resources — or worse, captures them!
Seize islands and exploit their resources before your opponent
I really like this game. It works on virtually any Android device yet the graphics are still good and the controls easy. Highly addictive and teeth-grindingly difficult.
The ‘watch’ is an age old institution of sea life. He who draws the short straw, or is given it (normally the newbie) is thrown up the mast to keep a lookout. Pirates, icebergs, whales and storms a-brewing needed to be spotted miles off.
Unlike traditional clocks, a ship’s clock will chime a bell every half hour to let the crew know what time it is. So on a four hour watch, the eighth chime will indicate a shift change.
I use this app when doing long tasks such as writing articles or a bit of DIY. I’ve found it particularly useful when studying, taking a five minute break upon each chime.
The app itself is quite simplistic with the majority dedicated to sound and time settings. You can also set quiet hours to stop sleep interruption if you’re going to have it running all day. The review section on Google Play actually feature positive feedback from people who use the app on their boats. That’s a thumbs up if there ever was one!
SeaTow specialises in responding to emergencies on the open water, from engine failure to oil leaks. They’re based in the US and boast national coverage, responding to members in trouble. They’ve now released an Android app, which while geared towards its members still has some cool features for everyone.
For navigation it has a compass and a coordinate finder which uses your phone’s GPS signal. It also has information sections of great use to sailors such as tide reports for the US and worldwide weather reports for mariners including wave expectations and wind direction. Radar charts are also downloaded to the device regularly.
Navigational, weather, tide and emergency assistance
Obviously if you’re a member of SeaTow then this app will be even more useful, but because it’s free, anyone can download it and make use of the awesome features. What’s more, it looks amazing and works really well.