Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Anchor Alarm App Is No Drag

ActiveCaptain's latest iPhone app gives boaters peace of mind while at anchor overnight...


Jeff Siegel, the founder of ActiveCaptain, contacted us over the holidays to tell us about a new mobile app that he has created and is offering absolutely free. As Jeff knows, we never pass up an opportunity to let our readers know about new boating apps as they become available, and everybody loves free stuff.

But please don't call us hypocrites for telling you about a new app just one day after guest contributor Vin Pica stated that "we are right at the cusp of technology overload", and that "can’t be good for safety of life at sea."

Technology has its (growing) place on every vessel; and running an app that helps you get some shut eye without worrying about drifting is one use of a mobile device that will certainly not result in a distracted operator situation. And helping put your mind at ease by keeping you and other boaters safer is exactly what this app does...


Background
ActiveCaptain's last newsletter before Christmas explains how Jeff was increasingly dissatisfied with the anchor alarm choices available for mobile devices, especially for the iPhone. So, one weekend last September, he did what any engineer-entrepreneur would do - he whipped up a prototype of a very simple alarm that provided the things he wanted in an app that would watch over him, his wife Karen, and their two dogs overnight on their boat, aCappella.

After coming up with the prototype, Jeff put it to the test. And not just for one night or two. According to his newsletter, he actually used the alarm for two months, testing and tweaking it nightly until it exceeded his own rigorous standards. By mid-December, he was ready to submit it to the iTunes store and was surprised when they approved it in a remarkable two days.

DragQueen
Oh, did we mention it's called "DragQueen"? Cool name, right? Bold. Perhaps controversial. But it's also descriptive. Here's what the app does, as described on iTunes:
DragQueen is a simple anchor alarm. It provides distance and GPS accuracy alarms along with an alarm delay. The alarm is quite annoying and is the perfect thing to waken you at night if it detects anchor dragging to your specifications. 
The reviews posted so far to iTunes are all 100% positive, though there are only 3 so far - forgivable considering it is a new boating app released over the winter.

Future?
What does the future of DragQueen look like? Jeff's newsletter states that the app will "will remain free forever". He also promises an Android version soon, based on the same source code. Even if Jeff doesn't do anything further with DragQueen, he's giving other people the chance to do so. He's released the source code for the product along with the following to-do list of things he already thought of to improve it:
  • Selection of feet or meters
  • A dimming capability for night and to save power
  • Better screen size support for Android
  • Better handling for tablet devices
  • A graphical display of the anchor area with a trace of where you've been
  • A way to set the anchor by current position, angle, and distance
  • ...and much more
To download your free version of DragQueen, visit iTunes. To learn more about what else Jeff Siegel is building to help boaters, visit ActiveCaptain.com. If you haven't been there before, we think you'll be impressed.

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