Inside the New Tides Weather App
By Henry Lyons, CIO, Marine Parts Express
We have been working hard on the unique Tides and Weather application for more than a year now and it has finally made it through the rigorous Apple Computer, Inc. approval process. Typically, we wait about five business days to get approval on any changes and, of course, it is very exciting because this is our first app in the app store.
Tides Weather HD debuted in March and soon thereafter we released Tides Weather for the iPhone and iPod Touch. We had a few problems getting fast tide information, which we resolved quickly by contacting our ISP (Internet Service Provider), Time Warner and adding a reverse lookup entry in their DNS (domain name service).
The next issue that surfaced (marine pun intended) had to do with the number of tide locations we provide. It seems that the format of the data had changed in the past few months since we originally imported it and we had missed about 900 tide locations! This is frustrating because it did not surface until we released the app and there are so many locations, it would have been a real miracle if we had caught this in testing. But 900 is a pretty large number and we had some customers in Hawaii and Chesapeake Bay in particular who wrote to us and said they were looking for those tides and were frustrated.
Again, this is complicated not only by the fact that the format changed, but also by the fact that tide calculations are handled in two different groups. The first group is tides that are reported by a local measurement, and the second set of tides is calculated based on a nearby reporting station. So if you are an hour north of some location that consistently reports tides at a difference of so many minutes, then we calculate that on the spot. All our data is available ahead of time so you can look up tides for five-day periods throughout the year if you are depending on a certain water level.
The most recent version of the app has incorporated these new tide locations and is getting good praise, although we know it is not yet perfect. We are quite interested in your thoughts and suggestions for what we should incorporate next. We chose to make it free for now, because we are mostly interested in getting people acquainted with our business as well as our software and while we might charge some time in the future for more features, we plan to always offer a free version.
One of the things that sets Tides Weather (The Mariner’s Tide and Weather Advisor is the full title of the app) apart from some other apps that are out there is the use of Google Maps to find tide locations. We use the maps for both your weather location and your boat location and you can set different locations for each, as well as for each boat you own. We purposely wanted to make all your vital boat information easy to locate, one of the things that these smart devices are good for, and help you to keep track of serial numbers and part numbers so you can order things you need without having to actually be at your boat. Please take advantage of the place we have provided for filter changes and other maintenance reminders.
Finally, you may not have noticed, but there is also a place to put pictures of your boat or your boating adventures. Feel free to send them to us and show off. We will post your boating pictures to our Web site, just ask! Our goal here is to grow our family of customers and to make your life a little easier at the same time. Feel free to let us know how that’s working out for you!
Click here to see our Web page about the app that has links to the app store if you need them.
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Marine Parts Express is a division of Water Resources, Inc., a privately held Maine Corporation.
For all your marine engine parts needs, call us toll free at 877.621.2628, or outside the U.S. at 207.882.6165.
April 26, 2011 / JD Neeson / 5
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