Whether you're leaving on a jet plane or picking up Mom at the airport, a flight tracker app is an essential tool for your iPhone. You can use it to keep tabs on your departure time, confirm when Mom is arriving, and even check her plane's position in the air. And if you're an airline geek right like me, you might even check it just for fun.
There are a handful of flight tracker apps available in the iTunes App Store, but up until now I wasn't sure which offered the best experience. So to find out, I downloaded six titles and tracked a sample flight on each one. Below you'll find what I consider to be the upsides and downsides of each app, plus my overall assessments and a screenshot. For a further peek at the maps for each title, check out this related slideshow.
Note: For this roundup, I chose only standalone Flight Tracker apps. I did not include more comprehensive trip planning titles that happen to include flight tracker functionality.
FlightTrack Developer: Mobiata Price: $4.99 Can it track international flights? Yes, even when outside the United States.
What's good: FlightTrack offers a lot of information without saddling you with an overwhelming interface. For each flight, it not only lists the scheduled departure and arrival times (when the plane leaves from and arrives at the gate), but also when it will take off and land. Delay information is clearly marked, as well, and you view the aircraft type, departure gate, and scheduled flight time.
Once a flight is in the air, FlightTrack shows the airspeed, arrival gate, baggage claim number, and present altitude. And if that isn't enough, you can jot notes on a separate page, access a shortcut to the airline's phone number, and look up the local time and temperature of the departure and arrival cities.
The maps are gorgeous, and that's not an overstatement. You get a full satellite view with weather radar data and I really like that you can zoom way in and scroll around the map using your finger.
What's not: The satellite maps can take a long time to load depending on your connection, and you can't switch to a simpler format.
The final word: FlightTrack offers a clean, data-rich interface with the best maps of the bunch. Don't let the $4.99 price tag scare you off; FlightTrack is my top choice and well worth the money.
Neat bonus: You also can shake your iPhone to see a random flight.
Other versions available? A Pro version ($9.99) adds push notifications, weather, and TripIt integration. You'll need a subscription, though. … Read more