NOAA tests app for Android tablets

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is testing MyNOAACharts, a new mobile app that allows users to download NOAA nautical charts and editions of the U.S. Coast Pilot.

The app, which is only designed for Android tablets for the testing period, will be released today, NOAA announced.

MyNOAACharts, which can be used on land and on the water, has built-in GPS capabilities that allow users to find their position on a NOAA nautical chart. Users can zoom in on any specific location or zoom out for the big picture to plan their route.

The Coast Pilot has "geotagged" some of the major locations — embedding geographical information, such as latitude and longitude, directly into the chart so it is readable in the app — and provides links to appropriate federal regulations. The app can be downloaded from the Google Play app store.

"Easy and workable access to nautical charts is important for boating safety," NOAA Office of Coast Survey director Rear Adm. Gerd Glang said in a statement.

The beta test for MyNOAACharts will expire on Labor Day, which is Sept. 2. Coast Survey will then evaluate usage and user feedback to decide whether to release a finished version of the app.

"Expanding the app across a multitude of platforms, ensuring easy accessibility to over a thousand charts and nearly 5,000 pages of U.S. Coast Pilot, will take considerable resources," Glang said. "We can do it if the boating community likes the app. We truly want the users to let us know if the app meets their needs."

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