ForeFlight Mobile 6.1 Introduces Pack, Now Available on the App Store

Pack Feature Automatically Selects The Data You Need For Your Flight

ForeFlight Mobile 6.1 introduces Pack—a feature that simplifies pre-flight preparation and enhances your safety by ensuring that you have all of the current charts, data, NOTAMS, fuel prices, and the latest pre-departure weather information stored on your device for inflight access. During the flight planning phase, Pack prompts you to download to your iPad or iPhone the relevant information you may need based on your planned flight. Check out our short video that introduces how to use Pack:

 

On the iPad

Enter your desired route in the Route Editor. The Pack icon, or suitcase, is located on the bottom right of the Route Editor.

Pack icon

The Pack icon is located in the lower right of the Route Editor box.

Pack analyzes your planned route against the data you already have downloaded, and then prompts you to download any additional charts, plates, TFRs, METARs, TAFs, AIR/SIGMETs, NOTAMs and fuel price data you may need for offline access.

Pack has a Settings control that toggles Enable Auto-Check on and off. Turning Enable Auto-Check ON enables Pack to automatically start the route analysis process. In the OFF position, you can still trigger Pack manually by tapping on the icon in the Route Editor.

Toggle the auto-enable for Pack in the Settings menu.

Toggle the auto-enable for Pack in the Settings menu.

The red exclamation point badge on the Route Editor icon and on the suitcase icon indicates that you need to pack for your trip.

Pack badges

The red exclamation point badges indicate that you need to pack for your trip.

Tap on the Pack icon to view the download detail for your trip.

Pack view.

View the data you need to download for offline use in the Pack view. Download items individually by tapping the blue download arrows, or trigger the entire set by tapping Pack in the lower right.

Each type of chart or set of data is bundled into a single line item. You can download each line item individually by tapping on the blue arrow(s); or you can trigger the entire set by tapping the Pack button in the lower right corner. To help you manage the available space on your iPad, each line item is labeled with file sizes. The total file size is indicated in the lower left corner.

Modifying your route via typing in the Route Editor in the Maps view; touch planning in the Maps view; typing in the File & Brief view; or accepting expected route notifications (Flight Alerts) triggers a new Pack analysis. The updated route is evaluated and you’ll be presented with any additional data you need to download.

On the iPhone

Pack can be accessed on the iPhone in the Route view. Tap on the Menu button, then scroll to the Routes section. Tap on one of the three recent routes listed, Favorites, Recents, or Create to select the route for which you wish to Pack.

After choosing or entering a route, scroll to the bottom of the Route page to the Pack line. Just like on the iPad, after a few seconds Pack analyzes the route to determine if additional data needs to be downloaded.

Pack is available with version 6.1 of ForeFlight Mobile Standard, Pro, and Canada. ForeFlight Mobile version 6.1 is a free download for subscribers via the Apple Store. For additional information, be sure to review the Pack section of our Pilot’s Guide.

ForeFlight Mobile 6.0.1 Is Now Available At The App Store

ForeFlight Mobile version 6.0.1 is now available to download at the App Store. As a  follow-up to our major 6.0 release, this minor update fixes:
  • An issue where map markers (flight rules, ceiling, etc.) could stay hidden,
  • An issue on iPhone 5 that would cause the app to exit,
  • An issue with flight rules display within the NavLog,
  • And we removed ‘Direct Connect’ features for external GPS accessories that could cause the app to exit.

We also included several performance improvements for a better app experience.

ForeFlight Mobile 6.0.1 is a free update from the App Store and is available to all current subscribers. Click here for instructions on updating to the latest version.

ForeFlight Mobile HD 4 Lands in App Store

ForeFlight Mobile HD 4 is available for download today in the iTunes App Store! This release takes ForeFlight forward in delightful ways and lays the groundwork for brilliant features to come in 2011.

As we developed version 4, we set out these goals and themes:

  • Add airspace and A/FD data: provide the chart margin data and make the airport pages of the “green” A/FDs accessible. Provide this information in an interesting way. Include airspace information, MOA operating hours and frequencies, tower hours, and more.
  • Improve instrument plate organization and productivity: make it simple for both VFR and IFR pilots to organize sets of plates and airport diagrams for trips or practice sessions, and make switching between a plate, airport details page, or map simple.
  • Improve the way pilots interact with the map: allow a pilot to tap anywhere on the map for information on airspace, MOAs, alert and warning areas, or airports.
  • Radically improve the navigation log: provide the pilot more inflight intelligence about trip progress and allow customization of the dashboard/HUD to show desired trip information like ETEs, ETAs, course information, or other important stats (taking the route being flown into account). Auto-sequence waypoints and visually distinguish previous, current, and future trip legs. Make the new navlog and dashboard design smart and sexy.
  • Introduce personal waypoints: give the backcountry pilot, a Gulf helicopter pilot, or CFI flying to the practice area the ability to add custom waypoints and use them in flight plans. Let the pilot configure waypoints from the map or import their own database of waypoints.
  • Performance, performance, performance: make everything faster and smoother.
  • Make ForeFlight Mobile HD 4 a platform for the future: put the plumbing in place for the big features we plan to release in 2011 and cut ties with older, slower technology.
We’ve hit each of these goals in ForeFlight Mobile HD 4 and the app is ready for you to take it around the block. The Pilots’ Guide to ForeFlight  is updated with the latest ForeFlight 4 features.  A media kit including high resolution screenshots is also available on our website. All the version 4 details follow!

Integrated FAA A/FD

There’s just some airport information that is only available in those green A/FDs, so we decided to include them. Now appearing on an airports page is a new segment titled “A/FD”. Click that and you’ll see the relevant page for that airport from the FAA’s A/FD. If the airport is big enough to have warranted multiple pages in the book, simply swipe left or right to get to the next page.

All New Navlog

The new navlog design is sexy, sexy, sexy. Pilots have written in frequently asking “how hard is it to include ETE and ETA!”. Well, ETE and ETA are not hard to compute. However, taking the route and active leg into account and, more importantly, displaying that information in ForeFlight style took a bit of extra chiseling.

Now available from the Maps page is a new, wider navlog that shows important metrics like summary trip information, leg times and distances remaining, and ETA. Current leg is shown in black, previous legs are faded, and you can fly a leg or fly direct to a waypoint by tapping the new arrow button shown on each leg.

Configurable Dashboard

“Make it so that I can configure my dashboard”. Done! Tap on any of the blocks in the dashboard and select the instrument you want displayed. You can choose from fifteen different instrument types, including ETE to waypoint and destination, ETA to waypoint and destination, cross-track error, bearing to next waypoint or destination, Zulu time, GPS Accuracy, and more.

Interactive Map with Airspace Information

Need to know what airspace you are coming up on or if that MOA is active? Tap within an airspace boundary or special use airspace like a MOA, warning, alert, or prohibited area and all the required details are displayed. Want to know the details of that airport ahead? Simply tap on the airport and a popover is displayed with the airport information and a button to hop to that Airport’s details.

Plates Binders

The new Plates tab on the iPad makes it simple for both VFR and IFR pilots to organize sets of plates and airport diagrams for trips or practice sessions.  Easily add new plates to your binder from the Plates tab or when viewing a plate from Airports. Search for plates by keywords, like “KMIA ILS”.  Create multiple binders to store your trips and easily toggle between them.

Personal Waypoints

Flying in the backcountry, Alaska, Africa, Gulf of Mexico, or even to the local practice area often means flying to places that aren’t specifically marked on a sectional or enroute chart. With the new personal waypoints feature, you can import a large set of waypoints from a text file or use the map to add a waypoint for any location you touch. Give that personal waypoint a name and you can include it in your route search. Download the Pilot’s Guide for instructions.

Video

We’ve made a short video that goes over the new additions and shows a quick demo of it in action.

Get it Today!

ForeFlight Mobile HD 4 is a big step forward, providing more information and content than ever before, more ways to improve productivity and organize your materials before a flight, a new navlog and configurable dashboard for monitoring progress, and even more performance and stability.  All of our screenshots show the iPad, but these great new features are available on the iPhone version, too.  The only exception is the Plates tab, which is only available on the iPad due to screen size requirements.

ForeFlight Mobile HD 4 is a free update for existing subscribers.  Click here to learn how to update your app.

For new users, ForeFlight Mobile HD 4 is a free download from the App Store and comes with a 30 day trial.

Thanks for making ForeFlight part of your flight bag and enjoy the update!

ForeFlight HD 3.8 with Terminal Procedure Printing, Offline NOTAMs, and Improved Airway Support

ForeFlight Mobile HD version 3.8 is now available for your iPad and iPhone! Download it today from the App Store and grab the latest update to the user manual.

Here is a rundown of the new features and bug fixes in 3.8:

  • Print Instrument Procedures with iOS 4.2 AirPrint (iPad only).  Only a small number of printers are supported now, but Apple is working to add more in the future.
  • NOTAMs are saved to your device after viewing.
  • Native city- or airport name-based search – no internet connection required. Put quotes around multi-word queries like “San Diego”.
  • Redesigned N-number/aircraft search with improved Aircraft views.
  • Soft-lock on procedures view now locks rotation on iPad, since the iPad lock-switch is now a mute switch in iOS 4.2.
  • iOS 4.2 compatibility with better fast-app switching support for iPad.
  • Improved airway support
    • Detection of intersection automatically when two airways put side by side
    • Automatically uses closest VOR on airway as exit/entry point when airport is adjacent to an airway in a route
    • Better support for joining airway to SID/STAR
  • Improved SID/STAR support (e.g. fixed issue where some waypoints would repeat).
  • Better performance in flight plan filing form on iOS 4.2 and fix for possible crash when exiting form on iPhone.
  • Fixed bug where BYOP procedures are not accessible from Favorites and Recents.
  • Fixed bug where maps would get clipped after rotating iPad on another view.
  • Fixed location tracking bug.
  • New settings (see ForeFlight section in iPad Settings app)
    • Change type of aircraft shown on Maps when in motion.
    • Disable auto-hide of toolbar in full screen approach plate viewer.
  • Fixed issue preventing a tap of the top status/time bar from scrolling to top of view in Airport details (iPhone).

The Pilot’s Guide to ForeFlight Mobile

We’ve updated our user manual, the Pilot’s Guide to ForeFlight Mobile HD.  Click here to get the latest version of the manual.

How to Get 3.8

New to ForeFlight?  Download ForeFlight Mobile HD today from the App Store!

Already have the app?  Follow these instructions for updating the app on your iPad or iPhone.

Need a group plan or backup subscription? View group pricing here.

ForeFlight Mobile HD 3.7 with Airport Fuel Prices, Airways, SID/STAR, Direct-To, and iPhone Touch Planning

ForeFlight Mobile HD version 3.7 is now available! Download it today from the App Store and grab the latest version of the user manual.

This update is a big one, delivering a breadth of new functionality to both the iPad and iPhone. Included are features we have all wanted for a while – like airway ‘cracking’, airport fuel prices, and FBO comments. Also, our iPhone-only customers have patiently awaited the iPad’s touch planning capabilities.  Today, their wait is over – this release includes fully integrated touch planning on the iPhone. The first time we saw it, we were pretty excited. Hopefully it blows your hair back a bit!

We took our time with each of these big new features and added some very ForeFlight-esque user experience gems along the way. We also polished up some of our screens, giving them a fresh face to improve contrast and readability.

On our team and in the ForeFlight community, we’re using iPads and iPhones more often than browsers now when planning flights. The new features in version 3.7 bring even more resources to your devices, allowing you to further cut the cord from your browser and desktop computer. With the introduction of iPhone and iPad airport fuel prices, airway support, FBO comments, and more in version 3.7, you will be more productive with ForeFlight HD than ever before!

First, here’s a short video introducing the big new features:


Fuel Prices and Fuel Updates

We’re really excited to bring fuel prices to ForeFlight Mobile, and we’ve added this feature in a very ForeFlight way. Not only do we provide 100LL/JetA fuel prices for thousands of FBOs, but ForeFlight customers can submit their own price updates. Coverage is awesome, and includes more than 2,300 FBOs across the US and Canada, showing prices in the appropriate currency and measurement units.

We built two new fuel price maps – a 100LL map and a Jet-A map – that show you the lowest prices at any given airport and, via some statistical magic, dynamically color code the prices region.  It shows what’s most economical (green), average (yellow), and expensive (red) according to the region in which the FBO is located. Expensive in Texas may be cheap in California, so ForeFlight dynamically adjusts the display for regional differences.


FBO and Airport Comments

ForeFlight users are some of the smartest pilots on the runway. Learn from their experience by viewing comments for an airport or an FBO.  Have something to share?  Submit your own comment about an airport or FBO from inside the app. We review all comments to ensure they are courteous and professional, and the usually appear in the app within 24 hours.


Airway and SID/STAR Support

ForeFlight Mobile HD now supports airways (victor, jet, etc). The app supports complex, multi-runway departures, entrances and exits from airways,  and even allows round-trip-editing with touch planning. Have you ever wanted to see where an entire airway runs from and to? Search for just an airway identifier to see all its elements on the map (try V16 in the Maps view) or include an airway in the middle of your routing.  Airways require a start and end point when used in a route, for example: MOONN V90 DKK

3.7 also includes SID/STAR support in the Routes and Maps view. For example, type in KCLT 36R.MERIL5 RDU J209 ORF J121 SIE CAMRN4 KJFK. Want to see what other pilots are flying? View cleared ATC routes from a departure to a destination, and cycle through each of the available options to see the route of flight with all airway and waypoints drawn on the map.

Always refer to the official arrival/departure plate from the Airport view, as the ForeFlight Maps view is not able to show vectors, altitude info, and certain other details you’ll need.  If an arrival or departure requires a particular runway input, you will be prompted to provide it, with an example.


Revamped Maps with Direct-To and iPhone Touch Planning

We rewrote our map engine to make it more flexible and support some great new features.  Direct-To is available from a waypoint or directly from touch planning.  Just tap the direct-to D to get a direct-to-routing. You can also jump directly from a waypoint to the Airports details page by tapping the blue > icon.

With 3.7, touch planning is now available for the iPhone.  This works just like touch planning on the iPad – we were all blown away the first time we saw it in action.


Simplified Download Settings and Turbo Mode

The download settings are now greatly simplified: just pick your regions once, the data you care about once, then hit Download to grab the data. You no longer need to select individual states within each catalog. If you’re upgrading from an earlier version, all of your settings will be migrated to the new system.

Users with an iPad, iPhone 3GS, or iPhone 4 can take advantage of turbo downloads. Depending on your connection speed, up to four downloads will run at the same time. And no matter what device you’re running on, VFR and IFR charts will install much faster than earlier versions – usually in under a second!

Other Enhancements:

  • More runway details including displaced threshold lengths, runway headings, and more.
  • ATC routes now load in Maps when selected.
  • Edit button on File & Brief to easily delete flight plants.
  • Maps button on File & Brief to jump over to maps and visualize your route of flight.
  • Sunrise/set times now honor the “show local times” on/off setting.
  • Over 60 new high-res images for iPhone 4’s retina screen.  Almost all of the images have been converted now.
  • Freshened the design of the airport, METAR, TAF, and FBO views for a cleaner and more compact look.
  • Support for DUATS’ degree and min lat/lon in Routes/Maps. Ex: 3006/-08045
  • Support for a new waypoint/bearing/distance format in Routes/Maps.  Ex: GSO230015
  • ScratchPad uses slightly smaller line when drawing.

Bug fixes:

  • Better handling of downloads with low disk space.
  • Faster deletion of downloads.
  • Fixed bug on Maps where current location indicator and pop-ups appeared beneath route line.
  • Fixed bug on main iPhone screen where badge indicator had black background instead of a pretty shadow.
  • Fixed bug on iPhone with per-airport downloads of procedures.

The Pilot’s Guide to ForeFlight Mobile

We’ve updated our user manual, the Pilot’s Guide to ForeFlight Mobile HD.  Click here to get the latest version of the manual.

How to Get 3.7

New to ForeFlight?  Download ForeFlight Mobile HD today from the App Store!

Already have the app?  Follow these instructions for updating the app on your iPad or iPhone.

Need a group plan or backup subscription? View group pricing here.

ForeFlight HD v3.6.2 and Runway Hotspot Diagrams

ForeFlight Mobile HD v3.6.2 is in the App Store.  This update contains some important download improvements for both the iPad and iPhone app. We recommend that all users update to v3.6.2 before downloading the next data cycle.

Release notes:
✣ Better recovery of failed downloads and more retry attempts.
✣ Fixed bug when trying to sign out of your account.
✣ Fixed bug where viewing nearby airports on the iPhone could cause the app to exit.

Click here for instructions on updating your app to the latest version.

We’re also excited to announce that FAA runway hotspot diagrams are now available for U.S. airports. These diagrams are in the next data cycle, and can be viewed in the “Other” procedures.

Aviation Touch Planning on the iPad with ForeFlight Mobile HD 3.6

Attention pilots: the “Touch Planning” release is here! ForeFlight Mobile HD v3.6 is now available in the App Store. Tap out flight plans in seconds with your fingers, bend routes around weather, move waypoints, delete waypoints, and more. “Touch Plan” your flight to Airventure, send us a screenshot, and we’ll post it on the ForeFlight Facebook Page!

Please note: touch planning is an iPad-only feature for now. We hope to add it to the iPhone version in a future release.

Touch Planning Instructions [Video]:
* Tap-and-hold anywhere on the map until a pop-up appears. Select the lat/lon location under your finger, or select one of the nearby locations.
* Tap-and-hold somewhere else on the map and select the location. This location will be added to your route.
* Tap-and-hold the route line until it changes color, then drag to break and bend the route.
* Tap-and-hold a location marker to move it or delete it.
* Rinse and repeat for silky smooth flight plans!

This version also introduces “Bring your Own Procedures” (BYOP). Build a zip file of PDFs you want to display within an Airport’s procedures list – terminal procedures from your home country, specialized kneeboard PDFs, airport diagrams showing incursion hotspots, classified military guides, or procedures from other digital sources. Any PDF is supported. View the ForeFlight Support web site for full instructions.

Additional Features in ForeFlight Mobile v3.6
✣ Fast app switching for iPhone OS 4
✣ Enhanced graphics for iPhone 4’s retina display
✣ GPS position tracking activates on Maps view automatically now
✣ New “Cockpit” button on moving map to engage the heads up display (iPad-only); targeting location now toggles auto-center mode
✣ Worldwide international navigational aids (search for country code, a colon, then the navaid IDENT, e.g. “CA:2Z”)
✣ In Settings, select whether to use the white street basemap or dark basemap when viewing Radar and Satellite Maps
✣ In Settings, select your preferred latitude/longitude display format
✣ Enhanced FBO fuel availability information
✣ Gulf of Mexico block navigation data for Bristow, PHI, and other GOM transport providers supporting gulf drilling operations

Ready to join the iPad Aviation Revolution?  ForeFlight Mobile HD is a free download in the App Store and includes the first 30 days of your subscription.

Already a ForeFlighter?  View instructions for how to update to the app.

Important Note for Users Updating to v3.6.
After updating the app, please check the Accounts screen to make sure your expiration date is correct. We are seeing an occasional bug during app updates where the account information is lost. If this happens, please sign in using your ForeFlight Account information.

Please be assured we are doing everything we can to track down this bug and get it fixed. If you run into any problems, email us and we will get you back up and running ASAP.

Moving Map and Routes on the iPad, ForeFlight Mobile 3.5

The iPad Aviation era keeps getting better. ForeFlight Mobile HD 3.5 is now in the App Store, bringing our moving map, heads-up display to the iPad! Tap the locate button to see your aircraft position and track. Users who enjoyed spitballing routes with the iPhone version will be happy to find this integrated into the ‘Maps’ tab on the iPad. With v3.5, all of the functionality in the iPhone version is available on the iPad! We also improved the radar and satellite on both the iPhone and iPad, with color-coded freezing precipitation, county-level warnings, and a new visible+infrared composite satellite.

New users can download ForeFlight Mobile 3.5 HD from the App Store today!
Already have the app? Click here for instructions on how to update to v3.5.

ForeFlight Slip Maps™ on the iPad and iPhone are amazing, with full-screen HD NEXRAD, satellite, flight rules, sectionals and more. Version 3.5 brings these to the next level, with killer new features done ‘ForeFlight Style’!

  • Moving-map, heads up display for iPad with groundspeed, track, altitude, and GPS accuracy
  • Locator icon changes to an aircraft when track available
  • Animated radar and satellite for iPad
  • New visible+infrared composite satellite
  • Airport-level radar and satellite (see cells on or around the airport)
  • Redesigned artwork for lightning, mesocyclone, tornado, and hail activity
  • New base-map for radar and satellite providing street and airport level detail

With v3.5, routes are fully integrated into the iPad version. Instead of making routes a standalone window like the iPhone, we took advantage of the huge iPad screen and integrated them into our Maps. Search for a route in the top-right of Maps tab to see both the route line and a navlog overlay with detailed information about distance, course, fuel burn, and time. Want to see more of the map? Just tap the minimize button and the navlog gets out of your way!

  • View the navlog with ETE, fuel, distance, and headwind component
  • One tap to file a flight plan, look up ATC routes, or reverse the route
  • Favorite routes and recent routes
  • Remembers and displays your last saved route after you exit
  • Great circle route drawing
  • Routes can now include lat/lon values like 32.3N/82.2W

Version 3.5 is also stock full of performance improvements and bug fixes:

  • Improved memory management
  • iPhone OS 4 compatibility
  • Fixed a bug that could cause a download to fail
  • Fixed a crash caused by zooming on long routes
  • Fixed a bug that caused blank tiles on sectional maps

Announcing ForeFlight File: iPhone Flight Plan Filing

Today we’re proud to unveil ForeFlight File, our latest iPhone aviation app. If you haven’t been ready to take the plunge into our more full-featured iPhone aviation application, ForeFlight File is a great way to get an inexpensive peek at one of the many features available in the ForeFlight Mobile suite.

iPhone Aviation

ForeFlight File is a simple flight plan filing utility for pilots designed for iPhone and iPod touch. File can submit flight plans without any special setup requirements, or you can file plans using your DUATS Access Code and get the extra assurance some pilots prefer. File was designed with the same attention to detail that ForeFlight customers expect, including such user interface gems as our Intelligent Aircraft Color Picker, altitude corrections for VFR and IFR flight plans, detailed email confirmations, detailed status messages when a flight plan fails to file for any reason, and a Fix feature for correcting flight plans that could not be filed for any reason.

Finally, a simple iPhone flight plan filing utility designed for pilots, by pilots!

Other features include:

  • Intelligent Altitude Selector sets the proper altitudes based on type of flight plan filed
  • iPhone-style pickers for time en route, fuel aboard, departure time, and cruise altitude
  • Previous and Next buttons to quickly progress from field to field
  • Complete history of all flight plans filed
  • A copy function to file a new flight plan from an existing flight plan
  • A delete function to remove old flight plans
  • Email confirmations that include a flight plan summary, flight plan details, current and forecast weather observations, and ForeFlight confirmation codes

ForeFlight File is available for purchase in the iPhone App Store for $4.99. All of the functionality in ForeFlight File can be found in the Flight Plans tab inside ForeFlight Mobile, so existing customers of ForeFlight Mobile need not purchase ForeFlight File.

Visit our web site to explore features and learn more about the latest addition to the ForeFlight family.

Night Flights & Sunny Runways: Developing iPhone Aviation Apps

By Adam Houghton, Principal Developer

Mobile applications are powerful because they are so portable. Devoted iPhone and Blackberry owners carry their devices everywhere. I’ve been known to forget my keys and I accidentally drove most of September without a license, but I never leave home without my iPhone. The emergence of location-aware, carry-everywhere mobile devices is ushering in the next great computing platform. The Internet on my desk is occasionally useful; the Internet in my pocket is always useful.

But for a mobile software developer, portability brings a new set of challenges. Traditional desktop applications like Quicken or iPhoto are run on big screens in homes and offices with a user’s undivided attention. iPhone users don’t sit at desks – they’re more likely to launch apps while waiting for a taxi on a rainy street corner. And whether it’s powered by RIM, Apple, or Android, a phone’s screen is highly reflective and usually smaller than a deck of cards.

Case Study: ForeFlight Checklist

At ForeFlight, we develop iPhone aviation apps. Pilots use ForeFlight Mobile, our flagship app, to check the weather report for the day’s flight during breakfast or file a flight plan from the airport terminal. In September, we introduced our second iPhone application: ForeFlight Checklist – Intelligent Aviation Checklists for Pilots.

Before releasing Checklist, we took it on quite a few test runs, constantly redesigning and tweaking the user interface to make it a natural fit in a pilot’s workflow. ForeFlight Checklist 1.0 received a fantastic reception, and as pilots have started using it out in the field, we’ve heard some great suggestions for new features. Two items in particular kept coming up, and illustrate the wide variety of environments and usage scenarios for mobile applications.

Scenario 1: Sunny Runways

The common use case for ForeFlight Checklist is running through a preflight checklist out on the runway. Each aircraft type has a customized list with dozens of items to check, such as verifying the tires are inflated and the fuel vent is unobstructed. Here is a preflight checklist for a Cessna 152 as seen in ForeFlight Checklist 1.0:

Preflight checklist for Cessna 152 in ForeFlight Checklist 1.0

ForeFlight Checklist 1.0: Cessna 152 preflight checklist

You can check an item by tapping it directly, or by tapping the green ‘Check’ button on the bottom. Pilots can consciously skip an item by tapping the yellow ‘Skip’ button. The table automatically scrolls the active item to the center and highlights it with a yellow background (“Fuel shutoff valve”). This, along with clearly defined indicators once a list is complete, keeps you from accidentally missing an item on the list.

After using Checklist out on the runway, a few pilots emailed us with an observation: the selected item was hard to see on a sunny day because the yellow background got drowned out. If you were wearing polarized sunglasses (a common scenario for pilots), it was even harder to see.

The solution for this was easy: change the background of the selected item to provide better contrast. We already had written code to special-case the background color, so we changed the color to blue (the standard iPhone color for indicating selections) and lightened the text color. Here is the same screen in ForeFlight Checklist 1.1, with a better contrasting background on the selected item, “Fuel shutoff valve”:

Cessna 152 preflight  checklist

ForeFlight Checklist 1.1: Cessna 152 preflight checklist

Scenario 2: Night Flight

Another handful of pilots emailed us with feedback on an opposite problem: when using Checklist in the evening, the app’s white background shone super brightly and was hard on the eyes. Even with the iPhone’s brightness setting turned all the way down, it was too bright.

To help out these pilots, we created “night mode“, a new color scheme available in ForeFlight Checklist 1.1. Inspired by the excellent Bloomberg iPhone app, night mode uses a black background with orange, gray, and white text. To ensure it’s easy on the eyes, while writing the code for this feature we actually turned off all the lights in the office and worked in the dark! Here’s a screenshot of the same Cessna 152 preflight checklist under night mode:

Night Mode in ForeFlight Checklist 1.1

Night Mode in ForeFlight Checklist 1.1

To toggle between night mode and the classic look (now called “day mode”), we added a new sun/moon icon on the bottom-right of the main screen:

Day mode vs night mode

Day Mode vs Night Mode in ForeFlight Checklist 1.1

If a checklist item has additional notes, a right arrow indicator is shown (e.g. “Rudder gust lock” and “Control surfaces” in the screenshots above). Tapping the arrow brings up the item detail screen, as shown below. Unfortunately, when creating night mode, this screen presented a challenge. Under day mode, the screen uses the iPhone’s “Grouped Table View” style, with floating white cells on a blue background. (This is familiar to anyone who has used the iPhone’s Contact app.) Unfortunately, this can’t be styled with a black background – it has to be white on blue. Instead, we created a new screen using the iPhone’s “Plain Table View” style, which doesn’t have floating cells and allows for a great deal more customization. (This style is used by Apple’s Mail app and Phone app, and is also the primary table view used elsewhere in Checklist.)

Here is the detail view under day and night mode for checking the Cessna’s RPM lever:

Detail view in ForeFlight Checklist 1.1

Detail view in ForeFlight Checklist 1.1

Creating night mode took quite a bit of work, but we’re very pleased with the outcome. Everyone on the ForeFlight team now uses it as their primary interface for Checklist – even during the day!

Know the Environment

When creating mobile applications, it is important to know your users. Whether it’s a sunny runway or a foggy afternoon, an iPhone app should feel at home in any environment.