As with many people, I went through a gradual change in my views of smart devices. They went from being the spawn of technological Satan to a darn, useful tool for various things.
Many apps such as guidebooks, camera, note taker, books, etc. all make a smart device a useful item to take. And I realized it is the connectivity (or expected connectivity rather) that made me not overly fond of said devices.
But as Chris Townsend said, it is just a tool in the end. Use it wisely and have the appropriate skills when a mission-critical function (such as navigation) is not working on the phone.
And one app that I’ve grown to like recently is Seek by the same folks who make iNaturalist; and done in conjunction with National Geographic as well.
If iNaturalist is “a citizen science project and online social network of naturalists, citizen scientists, and biologists built on the concept of mapping and sharing observations of biodiversity across the globe. ” then Seek is Shazam for the natural world. Meaning, Seek quickly identifies plants, trees, various forms of animal life, and even fungi.
The app is simple to use. Let the GPS on your smart device set the location, or enter a location manually, and take a photo or load one up taken previously. If you have a cellular or wifi connection, the app will automagically identify the species with some information available such as the range, the taxonomy, the season, and even where iNaturalist people recorded their sitings.
There are some other aspects such as challenges and points, but I have not played around that aspect of the app too much.
I find the app works best for after a trip. Similar to how I used traditional guidebooks in the past, I’ll look at my photos and try to identify the flower or animal that way. Except Seek makes the task much more manageable with more information available overall vs. a book specifically on wildflowers (for example).
In the end, I find Seek to be an excellent and valuable resource available for both iOS and Android platforms. And the price is right: Free!
Get it, use it, and I think you’ll like it.