I don’t usually pay much attention when my iPad is syncing. It is, in my opinion, a little bit like watching a washing machine at work. It’s a simple process which doesn’t demand much (if any) human intervention. Any involvement with it beyond plugging in the device and giving the “sync” command seems a waste of time.
This doesn’t, of course, prevent me from taking an occasional glance at the machine. A short while ago, I happened to look down and notice that my iPad was updating Audubon Insects and Spiders – A Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders. And it is this particular app (and the explanation for its update) that sparked the idea for today’s post.
I began purchasing this particular series of apps nearly as soon as the Audubon Society released them. While I proudly own a full set of the original field guides (many of which were gifts from my fiancé), I’ve found that toting them everywhere I go can be a bit exhausting. The apps provide the perfect solution.
Instead of flipping through pages of colored plates in the hope that one might match up with the species in view, users can speed the identification process through an advanced search feature. It’s possible to quickly narrow a search to a specific region, season, color pattern, wing shape, and more… often producing a correct match within a matter of seconds.
The apps also provide a unique social feature. Through the use of GPS tracking, users can track and report their sightings to other users. This allows both amateur and professional naturalists to record the habits of various species and aids in conservation efforts.
Eleven separate guidebooks are offered in the North American Series with four of these guidebooks (Birds, Mammals, Wildflowers, and Trees) available as a combination within a single app. (Unlike the hardbound guidebooks, the Birds, Trees, and Wildflowers apps cover both Eastern and Western varieties.) If you aren’t interested in just an individual topic, take a look at the Ultimate Nature Series. Divided by region rather than subject matter, these provide a great resource for hikers, bikers, campers, climbers, and adventurers throughout the United States. Guides are available for iPod, iPhone, iPad, Android, Nook and Kindle – starting at just a few dollars apiece.
I smiled as I examined the explanation for the update to my Insects and Spiders Field guide: “Minor Bug Fixes.” I laughed and went back to work. As a regular user of the apps, I can tell you that these fixes (which I presume were to the app and not the insects featured inside) are minor, indeed. I wholeheartedly recommend these guides to anyone fascinated by nature and interested in playing an active role in conservation efforts.