Apple Announces Smaller iPad Pro

At their March 21 Keynote presentation, Apple announced the release of a new 9.7 inch iPad Pro, which delivers the enhanced performance and features of its full-sized predecessor in the more space-conscious size of the iPad Air 2. Apple reports that the new screen reduces reflectivity by 40 percent and increases brightness by 25 percent compared to the iPad Air 2, and automatic white balance adjustments allow colors to stay accurate in different levels and kinds of lighting. Combined with iOS 9.3’s Night Shift, which adjusts colors after sunset to ease strain on the eyes, these features will likely make the new iPad Pro’s viewing experience the best for use in the cockpit.

What we’re most excited about with the new iPad Pro is the ability to use it with Apple Pencil, introduced last year alongside the original iPad Pro. Made for the iPad, Pencil brings incredible precision to ForeFlight features like Scratchpads, annotations on plates and documents, and Logbook endorsements. Using the Pencil for these tasks helps you perform them faster and with better legibility over using a finger or a generic stylus.

Using the Pencil allows faster and more legible writing on the iPad Pro

CRAFT Scratchpad completed with an Apple Pencil on the original iPad Pro

The ability to use this helpful tool with a smaller iPad makes owning a Pencil far more practical for pilots than when it required the full-size iPad Pro, which is over-sized for most cockpits. We’re looking forward to hearing your feedback on using the Pencil once the new iPads start shipping at the end of this month.

Annotating plates and documents is also easier with a Pencil

Plate annotations made with an Apple Pencil on the original iPad Pro

ForeFlight loves the iPad mini. Unboxing and First Impressions.

Our first batch of iPad mini‘s arrived at ForeFlight HQ yesterday evening. We unboxed one last night, confirmed ForeFlight Mobile is fully operational, and test flew this afternoon it in the DA40 paired with a Bad Elf Pro (the first minis shipped are WiFi only). First impressions?

Love. It.

The mini is smaller and lighter than we imagined. Of course, we could all read the specs ahead of delivery, but there’s nothing like a test drive to really soak in the essence of something. It is light, thin, and has a completely different feel than its predecessors. The feel is a function of the weight, width, and especially the anodized aluminum back.

The new dimensions make the iPad mini a great citizen in space-constrained cockpits. Also, previous iPads were slick enough to potentially slip out of your hand if not enclosed in something like a soft touch polycarbonate case that added a few notches of friction. The “new iPad” released in April also ran hotter than previous generations, leading to potential overheating if left sitting in direct sunlight.  In our initial tests of the iPad mini, it stayed cool throughout the trip.

We are delighted by something the mini brings that previous iPads made a challenge: one handed operation. After a few minutes, we realized that we were using the iPad mini mostly with a single hand. One handed operation is great for reading, briefing approach plates, and even panning sectional charts with one thumb. Also, yoke mounting is now a pleasure.  Minis on suction mounts will block less of the view, and it will be no surprise in the near future to see minis snapped into custom panel enclosures.

The iPad mini is fast, light, cute, fun to hold, and may elicit a big, wide smile from those in smaller cockpits. If you have a first generation iPad, the mini is a worthy upgrade candidate.  We recommend the WiFi+Cellular model which includes a GPS chip, unlike the WiFi only model.

The iPad mini isn’t for everyone, though – fonts are smaller on the 7.9″ screen, and it doesn’t have a “retina” screen like the new iPads and iPhones.  If you plan to do much book reading on your iPad, consider the iPad “4”. The retina screen makes quite a difference, as text display is remarkably sharp and thus much easier on the eyes.

Remember that your individual ForeFlight subscription permits two iPads in addition to your iPhone and iPod touch. Fly with a mini and your old iPad if you want – the safety of a backup doesn’t cost extra. If you need to renew or upgrade, visit our buy page.

The iPad mini: it’s a joy.

Introducing Stratus: Portable ADS-B Weather for ForeFlight Mobile

Introducing Stratus

We’d like to introduce you to Stratus, a new high-performance, battery powered, portable, wire-free ADS-B weather receiver designed to work hand in glove with ForeFlight Mobile.  Stratus is the result of a collaboration between Appareo Systems, ForeFlight, and Sporty’s.

We believe that Stratus is best-in-class when it comes to portable ADS-B weather receivers, and we’re delighted to announce that Stratus support will land with ForeFlight Mobile 4.5, available by April 23.

Stratus uses the ADS-B weather network, so it does not require any additional subscription for in-flight weather services. It is a great option for owner-flown aircraft, flight schools, renters, flying clubs, and even corporate flight departments looking for less expensive in-flight weather options that don’t require retrofitting their aircraft. Even if your aircraft already has in-panel in-flight weather support, Stratus is an inexpensive backup that could come in handy when needed, and is portable between aircraft.

The first time you fly with a fully-charged Stratus is a thrill.  Bring it into your plane, turn it on, don’t connect any wires, and then see the green ADS-B signal indicator light up, indicating receipt of ADS-B transmissions.

Stratus costs $799 and is available for pre-order from Sporty’s at http://www.sportys.com/stratus.

Details

Stratus includes an internal battery that will provide power for up to eight hours; a high-gain, high-performance internal antenna that provides reception in most cockpits without the need for the optional external antenna; and is tested to DO160F standards for magnetic and altitude effects.

Stratus broadcasts weather and other information to the iPad via the Stratus WiFi network, allowing everyone in the aircraft running ForeFlight Mobile to view real-time weather and information as it is received from ADS-B ground stations. Some feature highlights:

  • Compact design with a rugged enclosure measuring 5.8″ x 4.2″ x 1.1″.
  • Internal antenna for wire-free operation in most cockpits.
  • Long battery life, up to 8 hours, and recharges via a standard Micro USB cable.
  • Active WAAS GPS for improved position information and support for fast aircraft speeds.
  • LED indicators with ambient light sensors for battery health, power, and ADS-B station reception.
  • Tested to DO160F for magnetic effect and altitude, ESD, and vibration tested.
  • iPad 2 or iPad 3 strongly recommend.

Stratus is tightly integrated with ForeFlight Mobile, providing national (continental USA) and high-resolution regional NEXRAD radar, METARs, TAFs, winds aloft, AIRMETS/SIGMETS, PIREPS, NOTAMs, and TFRs.

ForeFlight customers will find the transition from using ForeFlight on the ground for pre-flight weather analysis to in-flight weather monitoring a seamless one. The only change is that data sourced from Stratus will include an “ADS-B” label, indicating the source of the data is from the ADS-B system.

Adding to the experience is deep integration between Stratus and ForeFlight Mobile, like the ability to control the brightness of the three Stratus LED indicators from within ForeFlight, a satellite status indicator for the Stratus’ on-board WAAS GPS, ADS-B ground station signal information, ages for both text and radar products, Stratus power options, and battery levels.

Here’s a short video introduction to Stratus, produced by Sporty’s.

Stratus at Sun ‘n Fun

The Stratus will be on display at these three locations during Sun ‘n Fun:

  • ForeFlight Booth C-92
  • Sporty’s Booth C-90
  • Appareo Systems Booth A-080

ADS-B and Coverage Information

The ADS-B system is a network of transceivers commissioned by the FAA. The ADS-B system broadcasts two classes of information, referred to as TIS-B (for traffic) and FIS-B (for weather and flight information). Stratus supports receipt of the FIS-B, which includes a range of weather and flight related information.

If you fly within any of the blue areas below, you will be able to enjoy Stratus for in-flight weather information, including national NEXRAD, high-resolution regional NEXRAD, AIRMETS and SIGMETS, TFRs, METARs, TAFs, Winds Aloft, PIREPs, and NOTAMs. In our flight testing, we were able to receive ADS-B ground stations in fringe areas outside the locations depicted below when using Stratus’ optional external antenna, especially at cruise altitudes.

The FAA is quickly building out the ADS-B system, and coverage may be available in your area in the near future. We will update the coverage map as more tower location information is made available.

Additional Stratus Information

Additional information is available at:

About Appareo

Appareo is a recognized leader in the custom development and manufacture of low-cost innovative avionic solutions for original equipment manufacturers. Through the creative application of cutting-edge technologies, Appareo creates complex end-to-end solutions that include both airborne and ground station components. Appareo offers turn-key services from product conceptualization through attainment of supplemental type certificate. In addition, the company is an accredited FAA Parts Manufacturing facility. Appareo is based in Fargo, N.D. Visit Appareo on the web at http://www.appareo.com
About Sporty’s
Now in its 51st year, Sporty’s has grown from a one-man operation launched by Hal Shevers to the world’s largest pilot shop and an iconic general aviation brand. Sporty’s operations extend to airport management, avionics installation and repair, aircraft maintenance, a residential airport community, new aircraft sales and flight training, including for the University of Cincinnati’s professional pilot program. Located at Clermont County/Sporty’s Airport (I69), Sporty’s is philanthropically dedicated to expanding the general aviation community with both pilots and skilled technicians.

Mobile Link XM Weather for iPad: Where to Buy and Holiday Deals

Baron Services emailed us last week and informed us they are running a holiday special on Mobile Link bundles, available through the end of the year. They are offering $150.00 off the regular bundle price. Visit the Baron WxWorx shop at https://www.wxworx.com/shop/aviation/mobile-integration and use the promotion code “150OFFMLFF” to take advantage of the offer.

Sporty’s is also running a holiday special on Mobile Link bundles with $100 off. Visit http://www.sportys.com/PilotShop/product/16956 to purchase their “XM Weather Package for iPad” bundle.

We’ve also updated the ForeFlight iPad Buying Guide for Pilots.  This guide contains information on which iPad we recommend buying and the iPad accessories we’re currently using on our flights.

iPad Proficiency Video

With the meteoric rise of the iPad in aviation, we’ve started a program to promote better knowledge about using the iPad in the cockpit.  We call it “iPad Proficiency.”

We had the privilege to hold multiple presentations at Oshkosh 2011 focused on this topic.  However, we want to share that knowledge more broadly, so we’ve created a video version of our presentation.  It runs about 15 minutes and covers the basics of using the iPad in the cockpit.  Much of it applies to the iPhone as well.

If you’d like to hold your own Proficiency seminars, please take a look at our materials, and let us know how it goes!

External iPad GPS Receivers for ForeFlight HD

ForeFlight is announcing support for external GPS receivers for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch. We’ve collected a great deal of data about how the iPad and iPhone built-in GPS receivers work in the cockpit, and quickly came to the conclusion that an external GPS receiver option is sorely needed for these devices.  With those needs in mind, we tested a variety of options over the last few months and finally found two hardware solutions that are up to the task of keeping oriented in the flight environment.

For the latest recommended devices, please visit ForeFlight’s iPad Buying Guide for Pilots. This page has the most up-to-date recommendations.

Pilots flying with ForeFlight can benefit from an external GPS.  For iPad WIFI+3G owners, these devices can replace the built-in GPS receiver for significantly better reliability and more consistent accuracy values.  For customers with devices lacking an internal GPS receiver, like the iPad WiFi-only model, these devices allow in-flight GPS positioning that isn’t otherwise possible.  These devices are authorized by Apple and require no special modifications to iPad or iPhone hardware.

Many of our customer know that we believed the GPS receiver in the iPad was not up to certain tasks and thus we intentionally avoided building in features that would lead pilots to believe otherwise. For example, showing GPS location on an approach plate without higher-quality GPS hardware was a bad idea, in our opinion – too many customers reported intermittent loss of GPS signal from the iPad or iPhone. With the availability of this newer hardware, however, we intend to open access to features that can benefit from this enhanced hardware. Stay tuned.