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An Alternative to the iphone

Apple Alternative

The halo effect of the iPod aside, not every smartphone shopper winds up with another iconic device from the bushel in Cupertino. There’s another technology company out there called Google—maybe you’ve heard of it—that has created a smartphone operating system known as Android that serves as a sort of alternative universe to all things Apple. The Android Market is a Web site offering a list of apps—more than 200,000 at this writing—and a large portion of them are free. As with any store that increases its inventory at upwards of 30,000 new items each month, the Android Market rewards diligent shoppers with fresh finds produced by 450,000 software developers the world over.

Marine Weather Pro by Bluefin If you couldn’t tell by the name, this app ($1.99) provides marine forecasts, live buoy information, tide tables, and sea-surface temperature charts for U.S. coastal regions. The app uses data from the National Weather Service and Rutgers Coastal Ocean Observation Lab.

The Encyclopedia of Boating You get portability and functionality with the app version ($18.99) of The Practical Encyclopedia of Boating by John Vigor from McGraw-Hill. Five hundred entries are loaded with information on seamanship and boat handling, as well as navigation and boatbuilding. Dynamic word search as you type makes it easy to browse hyperlinked articles.

Diagnosaurus DDx Looking for answers when someone isn’t feeling well? This app ($0.99) is a differential diagnosis tool: Enter any relevant data about your sick crew-member, and the app uses a systematic method to diagnose ailments through the process of elimination. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but it’s good to have somewhere to turn for advice. Just keep that smartphone away from any hypochondriacs onboard.

With apps for real-time information, games, and other stuff you lived without, the Android can help fill a void and make you feel you haven’t fallen that far from the tree.

This article originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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