Commercial FS9/FSX/X-Plane Utility Review
iGMap / iGMap HD
Description: Utility tool.
2.2 MB - iPad
1.3 MB - iPhone
Download via iTunes
Aidan Sandri AVSIM Staff Reviewer - February 19, 2011
So what is FSWidgets iGMap you ask? iGMap is a moving map for your iPhone or iPad for use with Microsoft Flight Sim 9 or X, or X-Plane 9. It is a navigation aid for any flight from a VFR tour across Tasmania to an IFR flight from Sydney to Brisbane. For this review, I will be reviewing v1.1 for iPad and v1.2 for iPhone - both using FSX. With v1.1/1.2 the following features are included into the product:
- Added HUD data option (Latitude, Longitude, Heading, Altitude and Ground Speed).
- HUD requires latest FSWidgets Network Pack (for Windows Version 1.51, for Mac/Linux Version 1.1).
- Added new compass rose overlay option.
- Added support for simroutes.com format FS9/FSX flight plans.
- Added check to prevent inadvertent entering of blank spaces in IP/Port number.
- Added fix for flight plan appearing in wrong place after moving map to new location.
- Added iOS 4.2 Multi-tasking support
Downloading and Setting up the iGMap....
To purchase the products, it is required that you have iTunes - you open this program up, make your way to the iTunes Store then to the sub bar - App Store. From there search "FSWidgets iGMap" - two versions should appear, the iPhone and iPad version. What is the difference? Not a lot, the iPhone is native to the iPhone/iPod Touch but will work on the iPad but it will not be as clear. The iPad version will only work on the iPad.
Once the file has downloaded, put it onto your device (you should know how, I'm not going to explain it). Now open FS9, FSX or X-Plane and make your flight plan and save it. Make sure your device is plugged into iTunes > Go to your device > Apps > Now at the bottom it will say FSWidgets iGMap, you will see a small button called "add" located where your flight plan is saved and click apply. Your device is ready to use the iGMap!
Once the operation above is complete, load the iGMap and press the "star" button (it’s next to the globe) and select the flight plan you wish to fly - let it load and you should see your aircraft connected at the airport with a purple line with your waypoints leading to your destination! Once you takeoff, your aircraft will begin to move and the iGMap will track the aircrafts movements.
Flying from Munich to St Petersburg....
Although I have completed more than one flight using the iGMap, I will be specifically talking about my flight from Munich to St Petersburg using the utility. I started at the gate in the Aerosoft A321 - first up I had found no taxiway references as you would expect, leaving me unable to look at the iPad as a reference until I was in the air.
Once I was all lined up to takeoff and in the air, my ALT and GS on the iPad began to increase in numbers and the mini aircraft began to follow what I was seeing on my computer, which was really cool. My flight plan showed me that I had two turns to complete shortly after takeoff; a small turn to the left then a sharper turn to the left. I did notice that there was a slight lag - as the iGMap is connect via your Wi-Fi from the iPad/iPhone to the PC itself, but to me this is expected as signals are being transferred, but if somebody had a slower internet connection then myself, then that may be a worry to them.
So I am now at cruise speed, and watching TV - paying no attention to the sim as of yet (as I’m using an aircraft without an LNAV, I’m using the default ATC - but that has been disabled for now.) I was notified by a man called David, who approached me requesting that in this review I mention that the iGMap supports the .rte extension used my PMDG aircraft and that the iGMap does not support it. I’m not sure if this is a limitation or a feature yet to come from FSWidgets, but I do hope to see this placed into the product if it is possible - that would make a lot of PMDG customers happy!!
But what about if you need to go to the shops, or visit a mate for an hour or two? Unfortunately, you must be connected to the Wi-Fi from the iPad to the FS Networks Package from your PC to have it working, so you cannot use your iPad or iPhone's 3G network (but this is not a negative, it is simply something that allows you to pick up your device and not somebody else's iOS Device!)
We are now at the cruise altitude for this flight at FL360 - looking at the PFD (Primary Flight Display) on the aircraft, it says that I’m at FL360, but when I look on the top right hand corner of the iPad it shows that my ALT is 36427 feet - about 400 feet off from what I am really at. I believe that the iGMap does not pick up a altimeter change, it is nothing 'major' in my opinion, but it is noticeable (I am a reviewer, so I have to be picky, or it is more than likely somebody will pick on me for it). As we are at cruise, we are still turning to follow our flight leg. The iGMap does do a good job at detecting where you are and at what time, making the turn accurate and not too early or too late.
On the top left on the iGMap, is the LAT and LONG position - this does change as your position changes. I confirmed if this was accurate or not by pressing Shift+Z, and it appeared that the positions were not correct to what was in the sim. Also in the middle it shows what your headings are - these were accurate to what I could see in my cockpit. There is also a round circle (refer to pictures) on the moving map for an easier indication of what heading you are on.
A negative to what I experienced is the map’s texture lag when zooming in or out or changing maps. This may be my internet connection, which is fast and should not case a lag. Though once you leave everything for the rest of the flight as per settings (which zoom level to another map) you will be fine for the remainder of the flight!
We are now beginning our approach into St Petersburg airport; both the ALT & Groundspeed are beginning to go down as we pass our 3rd last waypoint before we reach our destination. I also noticed that as ATC was vectoring me to the runway, the aircraft doesn't just stay on the purple line, but moves all over the map. I noted earlier in the review that the product was a bit inaccurate with the ALT I was at, whilst descending it was more accurate than before, being only about 100 feet off – it’s most likely related to the lag.
So what about those who do not wish to file a flight plan and want to just "get up and go?" This is not a problem either, just connect the iPad to FSX (same way as above) mark your starting location and you will be set up where your aircraft will be on the iGMap. For the free flight, we will be taking off from RWY14 at Bundaberg, following Ring Road to the west then turning onto Goodwood Road heading south down to Childers Airport.
As we made our way, I followed the map to the town of Childers, and as I got closer I lost sight on the iGMap of where Childers airport was - it appears to be an unregistered strip (ie; no ICAO) which would have been great if the iGMap used Google Earth as a map. I do not think the developer would be allowed to do this as this would cost additional money to Google, and Google Maps/Earth is copyrighted.
Success or a Fail....?
When I first received the iGMap for iPhone and iPad, I didn't enjoy the product as much as I thought I would, but towards the end of writing this review, I found it very helpful - especially in those VFR flights and even better for continental US flying as that offers sectional maps!
This product has made me invest $50 into my iPad (a product called ZAGGmate) to place a stand onto my desk so I can just glance over to view where I am. By the end of this review, I found the FSWidgets iGMap for iPhone and iPad to be an excellent product, one that offers excellent navigation for flying anywhere in the world.
There are other products similar to this, and from reading about them and using them this product goes far beyond what the others offer and I am lucky that I was able to review such a fine piece of work.
The iPhone version is priced at $10 USD, whereas the iPad version is priced at $15 USD. I've noted on the forums that for an iOS device, anything above $6 is not worth it - I was sticking to that comment, until now. I look forward to seeing what else FSWidgets brings out in the future!
To the uniqueness of the product itself and the excellent quality that it offers, I have recommended FSWidgets’ iGMap an AVSIM Gold Star Award for its quality, usefulness and addiction to the simulation world. I can say without reservation that this is a must have for any simmer who uses FS9, FSX or X-Plane with an iOS Device.
A brief interview with Fermin Fernandez of FSWidgets....
Thanks for the questions; I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to answer them.
1- What is different about other products that the iGMap offers - why should people purchase this rather than a similar product?
I guess this question is asking how it compares to other similar products out there? There is only one other "mapping" type application for FSX/FS2004 that I know of and that's the only one I can compare it to. So, rather than sound like I'm slagging off on the other guy, what I will say is how iGMap differs:
a) Support for native FSX/FS2004/X-Plane flight plan display.
b) Support for three sims (FSX/FS2004/X-Plane) across three OS platforms (Windows, Mac and Linux).
c) Several Aero-nautical chart types like WAC, TAC and Sectionals (the US benefits from this because the FAA provides the map data free of copyright, while places like Australia and Europe charge THOUSANDS of dollars in license fees).
d) Supports many different custom map styles (6 included, more may be added) so not just limited to the three traditional Google Map types (Roads, Terrain and Sat).
e) The mapping engine is expandable so we could add more map types in the future; the code is in place for that (getting the data is the trick).
2- What was your main goal with the iGMap, and did you achieve it?
Good question. The main goal, set way back when the iPhone was first released was to create a hand-held virtual GPS, with no leads or wires, that would talk to the simulator and act like portable GPS and thus free up the desktop. When these iOS devices came along we immediately identified them as a perfect platform for a moving map for flight simulation. The challenge was marrying up very diverse technologies like Windows, SimConnect, iOS, Mac and Linux. When Apple released the iOS SDK it made it possible to achieve it so after 12 months of testing and development we finally came up with a working example, so yes I would say we achieved our goal.
3- A customer has an iPad and sees the 2 versions of iGMap available (for iPhone and iPad); they want to know the difference - what is that difference, and does the iPad offer more features?
Both iGMap and iGMapHD have the same core feature set; the main difference is form factor. If one has an iPad there would be no real reason to buy the iPhone version on that device. The iPhone version does run on the iPad but the HD version has device-specific features that the iPhone does not have like popover menus and of course it takes advantage of the gorgeous 10" screen which gives 5x more pixels to play with.
4- What other awesome products can we expect from the FSWidgets team?
We're not normally specific about future products until we have them in final beta testing but what I can say is we have plans to continue developing innovative products that take advantage of new exciting technologies, like iOS and Android, as well as the usual Windows and Mac desktop applications.