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Garmin Helm iPad & iPhone App review

Garmin Helm Display App for iOS (iPhone/iPad)
Garmin Helm Display App for iOS (iPhone/iPad)

Garmin announced the new Garmin Helm remote control App for iOS (iPhone/iPad) this

Garmin Helm Display App for iOS (iPhone/iPad)
Garmin Helm Display App for iOS (iPhone/iPad)

week. So far it only supports the new Garmin GPSMAP 8000 series via Wi-Fi. Later other GPSMAP models will be included. But since we have a Garmin GPSMAP 8008 on the test-bed, we decided to take the Garmin Helm app for a test-run.

The Garmin Helm Test-Rig

As we don’t have a Garmin Wi-Fi access-point – we rigged up our own with a Cradlepoint MBR1400 router.  We configured the CradlePoint so 2 of the Ethernet ports and one virtual Wi-Fi access-points is routed to Garmin normal B class (176.16.x.x/ – then we plugged the Garmin 8008 into the CradlePoint router.

That setup gave us the advantage of having full Wi-Fi internet access while still being able to use the Garmin Helm Application which is multiple times better than what Garmin proposes with their Wi-Fi access-point.

 The First Garmin Helm Connect

First time lucky? Or well – My Garmin 8008 had software 3.40 in it. But Garmin Helm required version 3.5 that was just released. That was also the first real update of functions since first 3.2 versions. All other updates have been “minor”

Garmin Helm First connect attempt
Garmin Helm First connect attempt

And this is what it looked like on the iPhone:

Garmin Helm iPhone App 1
Garmin Helm iPhone – First Connect – Needs software update

So after a bit of updating – that also updated the card reader to version 3.3 we had success.

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Garmin Helm Ipad – Updating Card Reader

And after the Garmin GPSMAP 8008 finished updating the Card reader and rebooted – we had full access the the GPSMAP.

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The Main menu on the Garmin Helm iPad


Garmin Helm Chart Display

I put the Garmin GPSMAP 8008 into simulate mode to enable all the screens. Below is the map display on the iPad. Looks just like the real thing. Just notice the to arrows pointing towards each-other on the left hand side. Press that and you pull out the small menu. There are not a lot of options on that yet. But pinch-to-zoom works on the iPad – but I could not get it to work on the iPhone.

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iPad view of chart in Garmin Helm App


And here is what it looks like on the iPhone: but using the iPhone versions “zoom bar” to the right to over-zoom in on the route.

Garmin Helm iPhone App 2
Zoomed in Garmin Helm display on iPhone.




Garmin Helm Sonar Display on iPad

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Sonar on Garmin Helm iPad


And Radar Display

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Garmin Helm Radar on iPad

And Engine Display

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Engine Display on Garmin Helm

Garmin Helm App – Review Round-up and conclusion:

Well – this is a really nice first try from Garmin. The Garmin Helm App delivers. It is fast – and works well and it is free to download.

You can also connect multiple iPads and iPhones to the same GPSMAP under control at the same time. The iPhone app can control the GPSMAP 8000 series – where some competing App’s for other MFD’s on iPhone is “View only”

The negatives – hmm – there is no security. So ANYONE can access your GPSMAPS if they have the Wi-Fi password. Some competing MFD displays require “on screen” authentication for each Screen that each device needs access to. Even if that is a PITA – it is better than NO security.

I also spotted a little “bug” in the iPhone App – even after updating to the latest version of the Garmin Helm App.. The iPhone app still thinks my GPSMAP 8008 needs updating. But shows the active screen from the 8008 moving. 🙂 And I would still like “pinch-to-zoom” to work on the iPhone as well as the iPad.

Garmin Helm iPhone App 5
Bug in Garmin Helm iPhone – it IS updated….

Now we are waiting for the update for the Garmin 700/6000 and 8000 series so we can check those as well with the Garmin Helm App.  Once the Garmin GPSMAP 741xs update is available – I’ll update with more screenshots and info since it .. might .. seem like the Ethernet (Garmin Marine Network) port will be enabled in the next release.

But I do wish Garmin would get a real marine Wi-Fi access point as their current “loaner” model made by Ubiquiti is not suited for marine usage at all. So that is still embarrassing!

But all in all – a great first try from Garmin. Go ahead – download it from iTunes here


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