Answer: APRSDroid for android.
Hey that’s not an iOS app!
Correct. But it is the best APRS app, and if you’re considering a phone based on an APRS app, get an Android device. Why?
- It’s well-supported and up-to-date
- It does RX/TX on both via APRS-IS (internet) and via audio
- It supports the Mobilinkd Bluetooth TNC
The third point is reason enough that it’s the best app – you can interface it to any raido using an audio cable via a bluetooth adapter. Sadly, iOS devices aren’t allowed to use the Serial Port Protocol, which is what the Mobilinkd uses, but hopefully sooner or later the developer will learn that there are a thousands other Bluetooth profiles that could fit the bill for iOS devices. I mean, how does the iPhone send texts to my Pebble?
Something tells me app development with iOS isn’t very easy, but if you’re a talented iOS/BLE programmer, check out his the Mobilinkd Github repo.
Let that be my first caveat to iOS aprs apps – there are no apps comparable with any TNCs, so the only way to use your iPhone as a TNC is to connect it with an audio cable, or use the mic/speaker.
Second caveat – hams are poor developers. Not because of their skill, but
- it’s their hobby
- they’re not working for a company or getting paid to develop apps besides the revenue from selling it on the iTunes store and any donations they receive – either of which is not very much
So consider doing your research on the developer of whatever ham radio app you’re using, and sending them a donation, becuase that’s what makes the ham radio app world go round.
Anyway on to the show.
The Best iOS APRS app is…
a tie between PocketPacket and APRSPro.
PocketPacket is okay. It hasn’t been updated since July of 2014, and it appears to have been developed for the original iPhone. But it works, and has a working Audio modem that will let you receive and transmit APRS packets over RF. It’s $6.99 on the iTunes Store.
Because it’s pretty old, it’s also very slow. The app starts you in the map view at the intersection of the equator and prime meridian, and you have to hit the arrow icon to pan to your location. It uses OpenStreetMap, and the UI leaves a lot to be desired. Buuuut it’s still the best since it has all the features (including Messaging) for the lowest cost.
APRS Pro Ultimate
This app is expensive. Receiving is free, but you’ll need to shell out at least $8.99 to enable a 1-year TX subscription…or $15.99 to enable it for life. It has a few other in-app purchases, including:
- D-Star Repeater List Monthly $2.49
- Speed-based Symbol $7.99
- Enable APRS TX Lifetime $15.99
- Enable APRS TX 1 year $8.99
- Delorme inReach to APRS 1 year $13.49
- Recieve messages offline 1 year $4.49
- SPOT Satellite to APRS 1 year $13.49
- Unlock all features lifetime $42.99
The UI on APRS Pro is a bit annoying, with a “realistic” dot matrix display and signal bars (but why though?), but at least it uses Google Maps and the icons are small enough to display dozens of stations without overlap, but big enough to read the callsign label beneath the icon. Check it out on iTunes here.
This is my preferred app to use to beacon my position while driving. It’s very simple and straightforward, it’s the only app that uses smartbeaconing, and it’s pretty cheap at $3.99. Even though it hasn’t been updated since December 2014, it appears to be the only app with modern design that scales to the screen size, rather than having UI elements take up literally all of the screen’s real estate like most other apps.
The app interface of the best APRS map in the world, aprs.fi is also one of the best APRS apps. It’s $6.99 on the iTunes Store, and I think that’s well worth the cost, considering the website is free and very compatible on mobile devices.
There are a lot of other APRS apps that I’m not reviewing here, but I’m also making a companion video to this and you can also find my comparison spreadsheet right here.
footnote: i’m not getting any compenstation or free stuff for this review. I just wanted to review them becuase I felt like it. Feel free to give me money if you find value in this review or any of the other stuff I do at paypal.me/n0ssc or patreon.com/n0ssc. Thanks!