Updated Playback: Taking a closer look at new additions & improvements

Better and smarter ways to replay past vessel activity with the MarineTraffic updated Playback

When it comes to shipping, technology is critical and the improvement of reliable tech tools is key. In order to keep up with the times and meet the ever-changing needs of our users, we upgraded our Playback a couple of months ago; one of the most powerful tools on our platform so far. 

Now, we are following up on the launch, presenting how it all works, and in a lot more detail.

The first thing you’ll notice is that we’ve given the Playback a facelift. We’ve updated the design to match the style of our other tools and made it more user-friendly. But we didn’t stop there. We’ve also added some great new capabilities.

This new and improved feature offers a number of benefits we think you’ll love. Keep reading to learn more about what’s changed and some of the benefits it can bring to your business.

What’s new?

As more and more users are using the MarineTraffic Playback, we felt the need to make the feature even easier to use, stronger in what it offers, and thus ensure the smooth operation of such a tool so that everyone can use it undistracted. The team has focused on including all these capabilities that can enhance the user experience, and now present the following:

Changes in the UI, and the new functionality 

1. Playback and Past Track are merged

If you have been a MarineTraffic user for quite some time now, then you probably remember the different, yet two of the most popular features on the platform: Playback and Past Track. These used to be two separate tools, however, now they have become one. Hit the Play button to watch the clip of the vessel movement (Playback) or hit again to Pause and view the vessel’s waypoints (Past Track).

2. A new player and modal are introduced 

Which takes us to the new and enhanced appearance. When a Playback (or Past Track) entry point is clicked (more on this below), a modal appears that allows users to select the Playback Mode and Date Range of their choice. There are predefined time periods to choose from or you may also customise the date range. How far back in time you can go, is defined based on your access rights, and the maximum history limit that can be reached is obvious through the Custom Date Range option.

Apart from choosing to watch a Demo (predefined demos to help users see the functionality of the tool in action with no effort on their end), there are three extra modes to choose from: ‘All in Area’, ‘Vessels’, and ‘Fleet’.

3. Waypoints, weather, events, and nearby traffic info are added

Need to know more than where your vessel has sailed? On the ‘Vessels’ mode, ‘Waypoints’, ‘Weather’, and ‘Events’ have been added as options on the player. Check when the vessel stopped, or when it was underway, when it sailed in high winds, and all the events along with weather contours or wind barbs as all these were introduced for the first time on the player (and not only on the Past Track as it used to be in the past). 

Want to also see who approached the vessel during the trip? The option to click and view the ‘Nearby Traffic’ is also available on the player now, and is much easier to find than before.

4. The duration of the Playback is extended 

Before we launched the latest changes, we offered replays of vessel activity on our Live Map for the past 24 hours. 

However, thanks to our users’ feedback, we soon realised this had to extend, making it an even stronger and more valuable tool. Thus the duration of the new Playback is now seven days (when on the ‘All in Area’ mode), 365 days (when in ‘Vessels’ or ‘Fleet’ mode), and… five whole years for the Fleet Operations Solution users to meet the sector’s specific needs.

Our Fleet Operations Solution provides users with a 5-year history of positional data 

For up to five years back, the users of the particular solution may monitor vessel or fleet movement data in any location around the globe, visualise them and replay their movement in order to go over and study particular vessel conduct, the interactions of multiple vessels, important weather data, and more; all of which help them identify trends, review past incidents and plan future voyages accordingly, among others benefits. 

Five years of history is an open window to the past which most professionals in the ship operations sector can find great value in. Watching the actual voyages and how these turned out in the past, for such a wide time horizon, is invaluable knowledge based on AIS data the world trusts. And monitoring voyages that matter, shaping more efficient future voyage planning while also achieving faster post-voyage reporting, has never been easier.

5. The ability to select an area is added

Our team has now introduced a target on the map (when in small zoom levels), to assist the users in easily selecting the area they want to focus on and automatically start the Playback.

6. The ability to zoom in/out on a selected area is added

When the user has activated the ‘All in Area’ mode, they can zoom in, zoom out, pan and watch automatically the clip covering the area they have chosen or focus on a new one.

7. A replay button is added

Now, there is no need for users to set up the modal and click on the play button again and again. When the clip ends, the Play button turns automatically into the Replay of the selected past activity and repeats the clip.

8. A new speed adjustment slider is added

We’ve also added the ability to playback vessel movements at different speeds. Going faster or slower is your own choice.

Benefits: why is this update valuable for users?

As the two (Playback and Past Track) are now one unique tool, we are able to talk about a common UI and an even more functional experience. This offers users ease and time efficiency when they need to go over past vessel activity and follow a clear process to achieve that in just a few clicks. 

Considering the ‘Nearby Traffic, Weather, and Events’ choices which have been added as additional player options (as discussed earlier) on the ‘Vessels’ mode, the benefits are many; increased awareness of the surroundings of a vessel at that specific point of time a user is looking into, shedding light into the past – but at present. 

Know the weather conditions in the area the vessel sailed, what events and at what exact moment these were recorded, and who was sailing nearby. You may even choose to view the tracks for any similar vessels or fleets which gives you quite a detailed perspective on activity at your chosen period and location. 

Determine the connection between the visualised data, and make safe decisions thanks to the past. All the information you need, is now grouped and available.

The Playback duration is now extended! Depending on the access each user has, the replays of vessel activity can go back to one whole year (with a maximum time window of seven continuous days in the ‘All in Area’ mode or 30 continuous days on the ‘Vessels’ or ‘Fleet’ mode) or as far back as five years (for Fleet Operations Solution users only). Watch how the ships moved in a selected area for a whole week at any time in the past year, and make sure you know how your vessel of choice or your fleet moved for a whole month during that last year too.

This allows for more flexibility and fewer time constraints which in the past limited the user’s access to valuable information. More data, more insights. More insights mean better-informed decisions are reached. Simple as that. 

On a more practical note, the new UI helps users to zoom in/out on their area of interest or focus on a new one, eliminating distractions and surrounding ‘noise’ when the focus is a priority. Being in control of the Playback speed allows you to take a closer look at what happened and replay the data at a slower speed. Or if you’re just trying to get an overview, you can speed things up.

How to use the new feature

Now, let me walk you through the steps of using the new and updated Playback.

First, all you have to do is to log in with your account on MarineTraffic, open the Playback from the sidebar, and set your preferences. The new player appears at the bottom of the Live Map screen. Depending on the access you have, the modes (All in Area, Vessels, Fleet, or Demo), and the options you can enable or disable may differ. The options are the following:

  •   Tracks
  •   Vessel names
  •   MMSI
  •   Vessel speed
  •   Nearby traffic
  •   Weather contour and wind barbs
  •   Events on track
  •   Waypoints with past-track info

What any Playback user needs to remember is that the ways to activate the feature are more than one. In more detail, the 3+ available entry points are the following:  

  1. By clicking the ▶️ play button, on the left side panel of the Live Map.
  2. By clicking the Past Track button on a Vessel Info Window.
  3. By clicking the Past Track button on a Vessel Details Page.
  4. By clicking on the burger menu option when you are using the Explore tool (and specifically when exploring the following):
  • Position History
  • Position History and Weather
  • Voyage Timeline
  • Events

FAQs 

  • “Can I still find and use Past Track on MarineTraffic?”

Yes, you sure can. Though not as a separate entry point. The ‘Waypoints’ button on the new player actually gives you the ability to view the past-track waypoints information in the Playback when on ‘Vessels’ mode as seen below.

  • “Can I get the five-year history?”

If you are a Fleet Operations Solution user, you already have access to it. If not, then you will be able to enjoy up to seven whole days of past vessel activity when you select to watch the replay on the ‘All in Area’ mode or up to 365 days if you are in either the ‘Vessels’ or ‘Fleet’ mode.

  • “Can I watch all five years of a vessel’s activity in one session?”

No. What you can watch is up to one full year of activity that has taken place any time in the past five years if you are a Fleet Operations Solution user. 

  • “How can I access the updated Playback?”

As a guest user, you are able to access the ‘Vessels’ ( (24 hours of past voyage replays) and ‘Demo’ modes but not possible the ‘All in Area’ or ‘Fleet’ Playback modes. Now as a basic user, you can enjoy three full days of vessel Playback.

Feeling that you need to unlock more and explore more? The sky is the limit! Enjoy the service either by upgrading to the Professional (30 days of past voyage replays) or the Professional+ (one year of past voyage replays) plans, the Fleet Operations Solution (five years of past voyage replays), or purchase the feature as a single service.

Tips and tricks

And now it is about time to share with you some insider tips on how to get the most out of the updated Playback version:

  • Play to see the Playback, and pause to see the Past Track of your choice.
  • The ‘Nearby Traffic’ option is easier to find and select, however, it is only available when you have clicked to watch the Playback of just one vessel (on the ‘Vessels’ mode). If you select more than one vessel for a Playback, then you may not view the ‘Nearby Traffic’.
  • Press the cogwheel of the Playback player to change your preferences, without having to exit the tool.
  • You can view more than one vessel’s past tracks concurrently (up to 10 vessels) by accessing the Past Track from the Vessel Details page. If you want to reset the view, exit the tool by right-clicking on our Live Map or just hit the x button on the player.
  • The ‘All in Area’ Playback is available for zoom level 10 or higher only.
  • When you select the ‘All in Area’ mode from the new Playback modal, then the target appears (if the zoom level is lower than 10).
  • Drag and move the Live Map – the target will always be found right at the center of it.
  • To zoom in (and start Playback), click on the target or on the “Zoom in now” option.
  • If the zoom level is 10 or higher, then the target or snackbar is not available.

An example of how people are already using the updated Playback

Take a look at the redesigned feature in practice to get inspired:

Related reading: Going it alone

Closing thoughts 

Before I wrap up this blog post, let me highlight what I consider great about the update and why you should check it out:

When something is not obvious, when questions arise or just when curiosity is triggered as regards past activity at sea, being able to watch replays of voyages, events and/or incidents that took place so long ago, is what can (and most probably will) bring all the answers to the surface. The updated Playback has gotten so good that can help users onshore view detailed, key information for a better understanding of what has happened at sea. 

What’s even greater is the fact that all the historical positional data for the past five years has now become accessible to the professionals who have purchased the powerful Fleet Operations Solution; the “one-stop shop” for every ship owner, ship manager, and operator.

If you want to learn more about the Fleet Operations Solution and all the capabilities that come with it, click below or reach out to our team for even more information.

Fleet Operations Solution | MarineTraffic

As we are evolving, one thing is for sure. More developments and further advancements will keep coming. The MarineTraffic team always evolves, and welcomes users’ feedback, suggestions, and comments, being ready to keep delivering the most value out of the latest technology and maritime intelligence based on all this reliable data we are experts in. 

Keep an eye out for more exciting updates on our blog and make sure you follow us on our social media for more too.