UPDATE: Marine Navigator app (used by many with our own chartpacks) will no longer be available through the Google Play Store. Mr Koenig, the developer of the app, has severed his relationship with the PlayStore and will no longer publish anything on there.
We are working with Mr Koenig to make Marine Navigator (full AIS version) available directly distributable through VMH instead. This could take a few weeks yet, as the solution needs testing.
Advice for VMH users of the play store app and our charts:
Background to removal from PlayStore:
In early June customers let us know the paid version of the app had disappeared from Google Play, and Mr Koenig gave us the following update:
"Google has removed the app due to a new policy which doesn't allow apps to log location updates in the background. I have to add an additional dialog which informs the user that the logger logs location updates. Further, the Playstore only accepts updates which are compiled against Android 10, which requires additional modifications and a thorough test of the updated version. It's ridiculous. Nevertheless, I will try to submit an update as soon as possible. I will keep you up-to-date regarding the progress."
In July the free version Marine Navigator lite also disappeared, and Mr Koenig let us know:
"Google has removed the app because of violation of the Location permission policy. I had a long, disappointing and fruitless discussion with their "Developer support team". At the end I have decided to stop all of my PlayStore activities."
The issue relates to the tracking function which has always been a feature in the app from the start. The fact that it will continue tracking (only if the user turns tracking ON) when the screen goes off with app running in background has fallen foul of some new rule that Google has recently made up.
A bit of a blow for VMH...Chartpacks for use with Marine Navigator are our best selling product by volume, right from 2013 they have proved really popular. Marine Navigator is a simple full featured lightweight app that will run well on old devices as well as new. There are many loyal users who regularly update and buy fresh charts, and use as their "go to" nav app.
Nevertheless, we can't blame Mr Koenig. Being bullied by a USA mega-corp, who change their rules years down the road must be galling, esp. when the user already knowingly has to turn the tracking feature on. Illogical.
There already is an OEM version of the app, VMH and London Chartplotters install this on turn key plotters we make. It's separate from the playstore version, and is updated every few years. It can only be installed on the premises.
The solution we're working on with Mr Koenig involves making a distributable version of this, and selling it directly on VMH, so end users can sideload it.
The disitribution system will work like this:
1.Buyer pays and gets a download of the app. Buyer can install the app on 2 separate devices, activation by entering an activation code. Exactly the same as the chartpacks. For security we will publish the hash of the app, so users can check they are getting Mr Koenig's genuine app. This will be the full AIS version.
2. Any minor app updates/fixes within the following year will be free. Re-installation on target device (using original unlock) will be allowed in case of accidental deletion. No time limits same as the charts. This is not a subscription.
3. New features are only implemented in major releases. There is no need for the customer to purchase new releases except the customer is interested in the new features.
So for those who love using the app, it will still be available on exactly the same basis as our charts. All sales proceeds of the app will go direct to Mr Koenig. We make our profit on chartsales.
Our thought on this:
Repeat purchases by satisfied customers are the absolute backbone of most businesses... but something that was never baked into the PlayStore model.
Marine charts are a niche market, and the big players have all moved to a subscription model.. having started as "buy and keep". All now try to tie you in long term, combining charts and app.
We prefer "buy and keep", trusting the user to renew their charts when they need to, and selling them cheaply enough to make it easy. It works.
It will be the same for the app now. Even if you repurchase the app occasionally and charts every couple of years, it'll really won't be expensive !
Also for the cruising sailor it does not make sense to have your Google account on your navigating tablet. If it gets lost or stolen your personal stuff could be accessed. But if you remove your Google account, your apps will stop working. Catch 22.