★ TouchArcade needs your help. Click here to support us on Patreon.

Flight Simulators for iOS

04-06-2015, 05:25 PM
#1
Junior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Nov 2011
Location: Scotland
Posts: 20
Flight Simulators for iOS

I wanted to discuss the big three flight sims for iOS. First up, this is just from my personal perspective - I'm a professional family man with 2 young kids so I'm not hard core into flight sims. I enjoy just the odd 15 minutes here and there as time allows so I can't justify the time and expense in a full on PC flight sim. Therefore, I really appreciate the quality that is available on the iPad.

So the big three are Infinite Flight, Aerofly 2 and X-Plane 10 and I want to provide my thoughts on each separately and also as a comparison. I have also included a video overview of each. This is quite in depth but I haven't covered everything, just more of the pertinent points for each app from my perspective.

Infinite Flight
https://youtu.be/krPJ3eRRj8U

Infinite Flight is the first flight sim I purchased for iOS. It has the biggest selection of aircraft and regions to choose from and a good selection included in the initial purchase. I also think this is currently the most complete sim available as there is a lot of flexibility within.

First of all, I think this has the best interface of all 3 apps. There are a number of pages/views you can select from to hopefully get things looking how you want. For me, the ability to have a HUD display view only is a real benefit on the limited display area of a tablet. Some people prefer the cockpit view for added realism but I personally find it uses up too much screen area leaving a limited view of the world around. This combined with the fact you still need the relevant data somewhere on screen since the dials etc. do not work in Infinite Flight make the HUD the best option for me - especially as it includes everything you need for monitoring your flight.

Crucially for me, all the controls are down each side of the device meaning you have thumb access to all controls such as power, auto pilot, flaps, gear etc. without the need to take your hands off the device. This is probably the single biggest asset of Infinite Flight for me and I'm surprised the other two do not offer something similar with regards to on screen controls. The only let down with these controls are they are still active when not on screen meaning if you are flying on full throttle and you inadvertently press the area in the middle of the throttle control, you will immediately drop down to around 50% power by accident. Ideally, these controls would not be active when not on screen but unfortunately the developers have not remedied this.

For me, Infinite Flight easily has the best selection of aircraft to choose from. They are not made equal however and some look better and have more detailing/animations than others. The latest updates especially look great however this is mostly concentrated on the outside views. Interior views are limited to the cockpit and while the control stick, throttle and flaps are animated, none of the instruments are.

For the most part, this is a great looking sim, the different times of day look excellent and how this light illuminates the aircraft and animated water is superb at times. The downside however is the scenery. From high up, the ground typically looks like the repeating pattern it is while up close it looks featureless. I could forgive this if there was more detail at the airports such as buildings but there is nothing - you simply come into land at a runway and some grey strips on the ground where the airport should be. This is one of the biggest things that needs to be addressed in Infinite Flight for me. One other main concern is how this scenery scrolls by - it seems quite laggy as if it is running at a fairly low frame rate and this is especially noticeable during takeoff or landing. Coming in to land at a featureless airport with a choppy scrolling display ruins the experience a lot for me. This issue prevails on the latest Air 2 which should be able to cope and indeed this is not an issue for the other two sims.

The navigation in Infinite Flight is easily the best with a map full of airports and waypoints that can be added into a fairly complex flight plan. While the auto pilot will not fly this plan for you, you get notifications on upcoming waypoints and the course change to follow and you can also display a small zoom able map view to monitor progress.

The replay feature is one of those features that is not necessary but everyone enjoys it and will look for it to review that impressive landing they have just completed. The replay function here is the most complete; it can be invoked directly from the play screen and has lots of features such as scrolling, jogging and playback speed. As you would expect, it also allows you to replay from any view.

Infinite Flight also has the Live multiplayer mode which is subscription based and I applaud the developers for what they have delivered here. I haven't taken up the option of subscribing to play in this Live mode however as I don't have the time to make it a value for money addition for me so cannot comment further.
04-06-2015, 05:29 PM
#2
Junior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Nov 2011
Location: Scotland
Posts: 20
Flight Simulators for iOS Part 2

I wanted to discuss the big three flight sims for iOS. First up, this is just from my personal perspective - I'm a professional family man with 2 young kids so I'm not hard core into flight sims. I enjoy just the odd 15 minutes here and there as time allows so I can't justify the time and expense in a full on PC flight sim. Therefore, I really appreciate the quality that is available on the iPad.

So the big three are Infinite Flight, Aerofly 2 and X-Plane 10 and I want to provide my thoughts on each separately and also as a comparison. I have also included a video overview of each. This is quite in depth but I haven't covered everything, just more of the pertinent points for each app from my perspective.

Aerofly 2
https://youtu.be/2AN4RLcXBCA
https://youtu.be/wLtMZG5f9DQ
This for me is overall the best looking of the three. I know looks aren't everything but it does help reel you in and add a sense of immersion when things look good. The aircraft models look excellent although with the lighting, I do think the best of the Infinite Flight models look better. The aircraft in Aerofly 2 appear to have more detail including full, animated interiors and additional things such as wing flex and articulating main gear on the 747. Gliders are also an option for those that want a little more relaxing alternative to the powered aircraft.

Scenery is very detailed for a mobile sim, especially on the Air 2 although this does come at the expense of a large installation size. I also love that all the airports are very well modelled and they look great as you come in to land. There are some additional models such as bridges and even the island prison of Alcatraz. I also think the lighting at night time when landing looks better than Infinite Flight but the aircraft lighting itself isn't quite as impressive.

Given all the impressive visuals on screen, the scrolling in Aerofly 2 is buttery smooth and makes it even harder to comprehend why this is such an issue for Infinite Flight. The developer has also stated they are not using Metal for rendering on iOS so I can only imagine how things could improve if they could incorporate some of the benefits of using it.

Navigation is present here and while not at the same level as Infinite Flight, it is actually quite useful. You can pick your current location, be it sitting at the airport, on a selected runway ready for takeoff, in the air on final approach to a selected runway as well as any random place on the map. You then have the option of picking a destination on the navigation screen so you can choose an airport and then select a runway to land at and from which direction. In flight, this is represented by a small navigation aid in the top right showing the path to follow, the name of the selected location/runway and also the distance remaining. You can also tap this aid at anytime to make changes to the destination. There are no way points as such but you have this direct flight guide to the selected airport which covers the basics for me.

The replay feature in Aerofly is not as extensive as Infinite Flight but works very well with the basics covered such as choosing any view and being able to scrub through the replay. The number of views available don't number as high as Infinite Flight either but there is still a great selection with perhaps only an airport/tower view missing. I would love to see this added as the tower view is great for replays of take offs and landings.

The main onscreen controls are down the side which is great and the auto pilot controls have been moved to along the bottom in the latest update making them easier to use without your hand obscuring the screen.

Selecting the time of day is a convoluted process in Aerofly 2. Instead of selecting from one of four time/lighting levels like the other two apps, you select the actual time of day in 24 hour format. This causes confusion because if you select midnight, you would expect it to be night time. Enter the game and it is bright sunshine. To get night time, you need to select in the range of 8am - noon. This is due to the time selector reflecting the UTC time zone but the region is based on the US west coast using PST. I'm assuming the thinking behind this is for a possible update involving flying between regions but as things stand just now, there is just a single region and selecting day, dusk, night or sun rise instead would seem like an easier option. Another possible reason for this however is the dynamic lighting - changing the time by a couple of hours changes the position of the sun in the sky and the resultant lighting. This is perhaps overkill for a mobile flight sim but it is interesting that you can effectively dial in a specific type of lighting with shadows to match. Some people may love this but I'm not fussed either way.
In some situations, I don't think the lighting is perfect such as with the sun low in the sky to one side, the aircraft side facing it is lit up but the opposite side is less in shadow than I would expect. Not a major issue but I think it isn't as natural as could be and perhaps this is the amateur photographer in me being sensitive to how the lighting looks. These dynamic shadows also have some flaws - they can be blocky up close and for some reason, some aircraft landing gear to not produce a shadow. Infinite Flight just has a basic, blurry shadow under the aircraft regardless of the time of day which I'm assuming is technically easier to achieve but for me does the job well enough.

Last edited by donka; 04-06-2015 at 05:33 PM.

04-06-2015, 05:31 PM
#3
Junior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Nov 2011
Location: Scotland
Posts: 20
Flight Simulators for iOS Part 3

I wanted to discuss the big three flight sims for iOS. First up, this is just from my personal perspective - I'm a professional family man with 2 young kids so I'm not hard core into flight sims. I enjoy just the odd 15 minutes here and there as time allows so I can't justify the time and expense in a full on PC flight sim. Therefore, I really appreciate the quality that is available on the iPad.

So the big three are Infinite Flight, Aerofly 2 and X-Plane 10 and I want to provide my thoughts on each separately and also as a comparison. I have also included a video overview of each. This is quite in depth but I haven't covered everything, just more of the pertinent points for each app from my perspective.

X-Plane 10
https://youtu.be/2KZFc2effgM

I'll say up front that X-Plane 10 has a lot of potential and does a lot of things very well indeed. I'm looking at this purely from a flight sim perspective so I am discounting some of the 'game' elements of this one such as dog fighting and bombing missions.

First up, overall this app looks good. The planes look very good, they have great interiors which are almost as good as Aerofly 2 and are fully functional, not just the dials work but you can also work controls like throttle and gear when in the cockpit view.

On the interface, the main flight controls are down either side but again, the auto pilot controls are up top presenting the same issues that Aerofly 2 has.

The scenery is not up to Aerofly 2's standard but certainly surpasses Infinite Flight and Airports are also well modelled and look good as you come in to land. This all again runs buttery smooth and way better than Infinite Flight. The night lighting though for me is the best of the bunch, runways look great as you come in to land and even the towns and airports are lit up at night as you fly overhead which the others haven't even attempted.

The biggest draw with X-Plane 10 though is the weather, in addition to wind you have cloud, rain and lightning. You can configure two levels of clouds as well as their thickness and it works well considering this is a mobile device. The rain effect is surprisingly immersive, perhaps because it doesn't feature in the other apps. Further little effects such as tyre smoke, exhaust fumes etc. are nice little additions.

The biggest let down with X-Plane 10 though is the lack of any navigation system as such; there are no maps or aids to guide you around and you have no way of finding other airports in a region apart from aimlessly flying around so you are effectively taking off and flying back to the same place - you can't even select different starting locations. Given I have only used the basic entry level slow plane in this sim though, I can't confirm for sure how many additional airports per region there are as I haven't had the time to fully explore them but I have only found one extra airport in the Setac region so far as an example.

This is one issue with X-Plane 10, it is initially free but you only get a single, basic aircraft. This is somewhat mitigated though by the excellent try before you buy option where you can get access to any of the purchasable aircraft for a 1 minute demo or unlock it for 24 hours if you share on Facebook. At least you can get a decent look at an aircraft before purchasing. You also have the option of a helicopter which is unique in this company. I would love to see more Airliners added to the roster - once navigation and other airports are added of course.

Back to the regions and there are five in total which are quite diverse and a good choice. I would like to see these fleshed out a bit more with multiple airports and I suspect this is one of the reasons why there is no navigation system so these may well go hand in hand in a future update. Truth be told, until we at least get a navigation system, I find it hard to recommend this sim although given it is initially free it is certainly worth checking out and I think the potential is big.

X-Plane 10's replay feature set is virtually identical to Aerofly as are the views available and although a HUD is also available - it isn't as comprehensive as Infinite Flight but it covers the basics.

** It looks like there is an upcoming update for X-Plane 10 Mobile that will introduce a navigation system.
04-17-2015, 08:13 AM
#4
Junior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Nov 2011
Location: Scotland
Posts: 20
A couple of updates:


Aerofly 2 has been updated with a new aircraft and bug fixes.


X-Plane 10 Mobile has been updated with some new aircraft and a much needed navigation feature.
04-17-2015, 10:05 AM
#5
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 10,963
Quote:
Originally Posted by donka View Post
X-Plane 10 Mobile has been updated with some new aircraft and a much needed navigation feature.
It's about time - I was really excited for X-Plane 10, then baffled when it was free.

I enjoyed it for what it was, but quickly went back to the 4G version which is so much more complete (and got more legible on my 6+ )

Quote:
Originally Posted by NickFalk View Post
Squids!?

Worst idea ever!
04-17-2015, 10:14 AM
#6
Junior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Nov 2011
Location: Scotland
Posts: 20
yes, I think X-Plane 10 Mobile is still lacking a bit but signs are encouraging.
04-28-2015, 03:14 AM
#7
Sorry to bump in the thread with a shameless plug but we have a small studio doing flight sims for iOS, and this fits in this thread, you can read an interview with us here:

http://www.flightsim.com/vbfs/conten...oper-Interview

FlightSim.com did also an article on mobile flight sims in general, which mentions Infinite Flight and other great and well known examples available for iOS:
http://www.flightsim.com/vbfs/conten...ght-Simulation

Cheers!
04-28-2015, 08:37 AM
#8
Junior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Nov 2011
Location: Scotland
Posts: 20
Just took a look a look at the Lite version. Definitely a game more than a flight sim but some nice things going on there. I like the look of it and the fact you have nice looking terrain with trees. Any plans to develop something more substantial with regards to a true flight sim?
06-15-2015, 03:13 PM
#9
Some things that you missed...
- X-Plane's flight model has been said, from the developer, to be about 90% as accurate as the desktop PC version, which is majorly impressive.

X-Plane also has THE best weather system off all of these thus far, and coupled with the ability to damage/break the chosen aircraft in every possible way, pretty much means that approaches and landings in this one are limitless in variety.

And, also, each aircraft in X-Plane comes with unique flying challenges, across a range of difficulties. And it also has a basic player vs player combat mode.

- The time of day selection in AeroFly 2 is odd that way because, despite what you implied, the sim is not limited to just the San Fransisco region - it is a full global model. You can fly south down to San Diego, for instance, and keep going down into Mexico.

At this point in time, the photoscenery will gradually degrade in resolution, until it is just a vast expanse of empty land and water, but the Points of Interest will continue to detail landmarks and cities, and the navigation aids are already programmed. All the coastlines are accurately mapped. Some people have even flown around the entire globe!

The developer has said that the next area to be added in photoscenery is Switzerland, and beyond that they aren't sure what to do, and are exploring ways of delivering more photoscenery without filling up your entire mobile device.
06-15-2015, 03:25 PM
#10
Junior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Nov 2011
Location: Scotland
Posts: 20
Regarding Aerofly 2, I have actually flown around the world and the ability to do that is very impressive. The issue is if you wish to start a new flight, you need to select somewhere in the San Francisco region as this is the only area that has been mapped ie high resolution and airports. Until new sceneries are added, a more simple time of day selection would have been sufficient IMHO.