Keeping up with the latest on the App Store can be daunting, as the rapid release of new apps designed to make your life easier — or complicate it more — seems to happen daily. And while it’s easy to argue in equal measure whether technology heralded the demise of our species or whether it will be our saving grace, it’s safe to say that some of the nifty apps available to us are sometimes quite handy.
My wife and I are avid hikers, backpackers and nature enthusiasts. That’s a big reason we settled on the West Rim, which offers a wealth of outdoor opportunities just steps from our front door. Over the past few years, our home screens have become increasingly cluttered with apps that we use as we walk through the woods. Thought I’d share some personal reviews of some of our favorites.
“Seek” is the first app that came to mind when I was considering this segment. When we are on the trail, I often find that the reason my wife has fallen so far behind is that she discovers the benefits of tea tree squaw or confirms that indeed, has been a monarch butterfly and they are actually found in western Colorado. This plant and animal identification app is user-friendly and known to give very accurate results.
Published by iNaturalist, “Seek” uses image recognition technology powered by serious data collection stored on their servers. Users simply point the camera at a plant, fungus, insect, bird, or bear (watch out for that last one) and a host of data, including its scientific name, attributes, and more, is presented to users – even in the field, far away from a wifi connection. This is great for novice mushroom hunters who don’t want to spend the next seven hours in an altered state or just curious adventurers who just want to learn more about the world around them.
“Seek” is available for both Apple and Android users, and at the time of this review, it’s still completely free to use. With excellent ratings on the App Store and Google Play, it is well worth the free download for nature lovers. It’s a great app for kids, who can earn badges through identification, encouraging young citizen science no matter where they live. The database covers flora and fauna from all over the world, which also makes it the ideal companion for holidays abroad.
The Look for app has been dubbed Pokémon Go or Shazam for nature. If you don’t know what these things are, try keeping up. I do my best, even if it gets harder every year. I hope you find this, and future app reviews, helpful in deciding what to make room for on your own state-of-the-art walkie-talkie devices. “Seek” is one of our favorites. It’s fun, it’s free, and it’s packed with knowledge – something we’ll never have enough of.