Sunday, April 05, 2009

I Need an iPhone Tree Guide

One of the great things about iPhone (and other smart phones as well to be fair) is the ability to have great references with you at all times. This is why I bought the $20 iBird Plus program. It's huge, with a library of practically every bird I'm likely to see in North America, complete with descriptions, range, birdcalls, etc. I'm not a 'serious birder', but I do enjoy identifying birds on occasion and I always have my iPhone with me.

With that in mind, I wanted to have a tree identification reference with me as well. So I looked, both for iPhone Apps and on the Kindle store for paper reference books that had been converted for Kindle use. I'm sad to say I didn't find anything that would work for me.

There were a couple of iPhone Apps, but they were too limited for what I had in mind. Maybe the North Woods tree identifier would work every now and then, but not down here in Texas.

On the Kindle store, I browsed on the web and clicked the 'send a sample' link for a couple of them. Unfortunately, I mostly got academic texts with long introductions. If there were useful tree identification pages in those books, I couldn't tell it from the sample section, and they were too expensive for me to risk buying sight unseen.

I think there's a real market here that seems unfilled. Tree books, flower books, field and meadow guides of all kinds–but designed as ebooks with a good index up front to help someone standing in the mud to make an identification quickly and move on. I'd even buy a well-designed iPhone App to serve that purpose, but please make it as easy to use as iBird.

Now, if I've just overlooked the perfect solution for my problem, be sure to drop me a comment and point me in the right direction.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Henry,

I saw this post a while back. It has been in the back of my mind to watch for iPhone apps to id plants. Had an opportunity to check with some folks in the know who assured me there weren't any. Just ran across an article about citizen scientists in CNN that refers to "Researchers at several universities" working on just such apps. ( http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/05/04/citizen.science.climate.change/index.html?iref=t2test_techmon)

So stay alert, they are on the way.

Cheers, Joel

Jase said...

I'm anxiously awaiting a good dendrology iPhone app. Check this out -- someone is definitely working on one, and it looks like it might be seriously good. I hope it is available soon.

http://www.designundersky.com/dus/2009/5/11/fieldwork-mobile-tree-identification.html

James C. said...

I would buy this in a second.

Anonymous said...

Nice post, I've had similar thoughts so I built this. www.botanybuddy.com

Anonymous said...

check out tree id iphone app

Henry Melton said...

I have loaded Tree ID and it looks good, but I'm in the middle of a science fiction convention Archon, and haven't had time to test it out.

Georgia said...

If anyone lives in NYC, check out the Trees Near You iPhone app.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if you live in the US or not, but the Arbor Day Foundation has a tree id product for iPhone.

http://tinyurl.com/6ynkdol