Mercury Marine has recently introduced a mobile app that can provide most of the information, and even function in addition to, the Vessel View screen that monitors the functioning of its engines and propulsion systems. This new app can be installed on any smartphone, and when a SmartCraft VesselView Mobile module is installed on the diagnostic pigtail on the engine, Bluetooth connectivity takes data from the module and displays it on the screen. The cost of the system is far less expensive than the dash-mounted Vessel View screen it largely mimics -- something under $300.
The Following are basic operations of the app—
1. When the app is turned on, the first thing displayed is the home screen with all pertinent data shown.
2. A horizontal bar at the top of the screen shows the system’s status -- green for “OK” and red and a “!” for a fault.
3. If there is a fault, it shows up here as a notification. The fault is stored in the cloud so a service tech can be called. The tech can pull up the fault in a dealer portal and can either solve the problem =remotely= or schedule a visit to a servicing dealer.
4. The owner’s preferred dealer can be found by clicking on the menu. When away from home, the app will show the location of the nearest Mercury dealer. Because Mercury has the largest network of dealers in the marine industry, the chances of one being close by are all but guaranteed.
5. By selecting “RPM,” other data comes up on the screen, including coolant temperature, battery voltage, engine hours and when regularly scheduled service is due -- in this example, in 91 engine hours.
6. The amount of fuel on board must be plugged in by the operator on the screen, as seen above. The software then calculates time to empty in real time given the fuel flow at the moment. In the above example, there is enough fuel to operate the boat for 83 hours and 13 minutes at 600 rpm.
7. Another screen will show current speed, average speed and peak speed.
8. If the boat has twin engines, the mobile app will read out for each engine, as shown above. The operator can then drill down for each engine to find out more information.
9. The app also works the same with triple or quad engine applications. On this screen, we see identified on the far left the port, port center, starboard center and starboard engines all showing engine RPM, temp and charge at a glance. For each engine, there’s a green bar that shows the system status, all OK here. Note the blue line that indicates “maintenance.” By selecting it, the hours remaining until regularly-scheduled maintenance will be displayed.
10. The maintenance screen will also tell us how many hours remain before designated service items need to be inspected and replaced. In the above example, the top item is “Belt,” which needs to be inspected in 91 hours and replaced in 291 hours. If these items were past due for inspection or replacement, the circles would be red instead of green.
11. A menu on the mobile app can be accessed at any time by touching the three bars in the upper right. This is how the dealer locator is found, and it also has a function to give Mercury “feedback.”
12. Because a GPS is embedded in the smartphone, it knows the unit’s location, and a touch will bring up local points of interest, such as marinas, fuel docks and restaurants. Touch one of these icons and even more information is provided.
13. We particularly like the “Pre-Departure” checklist function on the app. In this list, we are reminded to check all fluid levels and ensure our registration card is aboard and that the fire extinguishers are current, among other things. Operators can even make their own checklist.
14. Other Functions. There are too many functions to explore here, but some of them include a place to record maintenance, details of where fish were caught and their description, a place to save photos, an events calendar, and even a hole-shot game, among other things.
The advantages of this mobile app are obvious. Because it can do much of what the Vessel View can do, its price tag of under $300 represents large savings. We like the dealer locator function and ability to give Mercury feedback. It also serves as a single, well-organized place to keep all information about an owner’s boat, as well as providing engine diagnostics.
In the future, it is hard to imagine that any boat will leave the dock without the owner having something like this valuable app either in his hand or on the boat’s panel.