Ocean Maps GmbH
Ever felt that trepidation about dropping onto a new and unseen site? Worry no more, with this virtual dive-site app.
Ease of Use:
4 – The controls take a little getting used to, but anyone who belongs to the PlayStation Generation will have no problems with it. If in doubt, ask a five-year-old.
Value for Money:
3 – Pricier than some of the other offerings in this review, Ocean Maps is nevertheless in a niche of its own, justifying the cost somewhat. If you’re smart about it, there are ways to keep costs to a minimum.
4 – Ocean Maps doesn’t contain any extra features per se, but each site is information-rich and a treat for the eyes.
4/5 – Many a great diver has experienced the butterflies associated with visiting a new site unguided for the first time. Indeed, more than a few have shelled out significant amounts for a guide to help abate the nerves.
This is where Ocean Maps comes in – providing immersive 3D maps for common sites, with a comprehensive fact-file to match.
It’s relatively easy to find the demo version of Ocean Maps, but it can be tricky to locate the site-specific versions on the app stores. One tip is to search by the “Ocean Maps” developer, which will offer you all the versions without a long-winded trawl.
You’ll notice I said versions – yes , Ocean Maps produces a separate app for each geographical area. And because it’s a company relatively new to the scene, these are somewhat limited.
At the time of writing, apps available to UK users cover Florida, Aqaba, Kreidesee (the developer is Austrian) and, if you’re feeling flush, a Stuart Cove-specific version for the Bahamas.
The company is really pitching itself at the commercial market rather than individual recreational divers, hoping that larger dive-centres such as Cove’s will front the costs to survey their local sites. So if you’re after mapping for some far-flung site, don’t hold your breath!
Still, what this app does, it does fantastically. It’s a fabulous asset from which dive-guides can brief and can be used to produce detailed sketch-maps for slates, with the potential to improve navigational safety.
I trialled the Florida version, which seems to be one of the more swept-up offerings. It covered 59 sites, from wrecks to reefs, all in glorious colour.
Though the initial download was free in this case, sites were charged at either £9.99 for single-site lifetime access, or £2.75 a month to view all sites in the app.
For most divers, a month is probably all you need, though don’t forget to cancel that contract once home! Other versions vary in price from nothing for the Aqaba app to an eye-watering £48.99 for the Bahamas!
Aside from the organisational mess Ocean Maps seems to have got into with a multitude of similar apps, these are a great asset so long as your chosen site is, literally, on the map.