Sunday, April 24, 2011

Review: Audubon Birds for Android

I recently downloaded the Audubon Birds app to my Android phone.  I've been using this app and the Sibley eGuide interchangeably in the field.  I've had some great compare and contrast between the two.  I really like the Audubon Birds app for a variety of reasons.


User-friendliness - I really enjoy Audubon's thumb-sized circles and icons to tap for accessing the various browse options; especially because of the fat-thumbing issues I have discussed before.

Intuitiveness - this app is just so easy to navigate and it doesn't take any complicated effort to figure it out.

Speed - while it does take a little while to download initially and to load for daily use (it is a large app afterall), once the app is open it navigates quickly and smoothly.

Reliability - I have never had the Audubon Bird app shut down on me or "force close".  Unfortunately, that is a big problem for the Sibley eGuide.


Search-ability - Audubon has the ability to search for birds by shape, by name, by family, and by an advanced search tool .  Within the "Advanced Search" you can look up birds by their scientific, common, and even alternate names.  You can narrow your search by habitat, region, color, size, shape, wing shape, type of call or song, and even by flight or running pattern.  It can also show you species by the likelihood in your state or province, even by month!  When it comes down to it, I pretty much only use the "Browse by Name" tool, but its cool that those other search resources are available, especially to new birders.

Beautiful - everything from the photos to the color schemes on this app are just really pleasant to look at.

There are at least a couple photos for each species and they are great quality images.  Males and females are almost always shown, but it may be lacking in some more birds in juvenile plumages.  The biggest weakness of the photos in this app is the lack of text describing what it is you are looking at.

The range maps are pretty good and will sometimes have two maps showing the birds range into Central and South America.  The section for calls and songs works well.  I would like to know in what general region they were recorded in because that does matter for some species.  The descriptive text is thorough.  There is also an icon you can click on to view and compare similar species.  Sibley does have an edge up on this because you can view both birds on one screen, but still I am able to flip back and forth quickly and well enough to be effective in the Audubon Birds app.

Conclusion:


For $9.99, this is a solid birding field guide app and a fantastic value!  I highly recommend this app to all birders.  It is also available for iOS.

8 comments:

  1. Thanks Robert. My Droid phone arrives this week. This will be the first app I buy. Any others I can't live without?

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  2. I have been wondering how well this App operates. You answered my questions. Thanks!

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  3. ...I'll have to look this one up. Thanks for the review. I've been using iBird Pro and like it, but I'll try this one too.

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  4. The reviews indicated some problems and concerns about size of the app. Do you have any of these concerns? Thanks for your review!

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  5. @wolf21m - thanks for the comments, I'll respond to you by email

    @Jean - glad this review helped!

    @Kelly - iBird Pro is pretty cool. Jim had reviewed it for me here a while back. I have the lite version right now just to see how it works and it is really neat.

    @The Zen Birdfeeder - Audubon Birds is a big app and it took me a long time to download it and it takes a minute or two to load each time you open it - at least on my device, but other than that it seems to work smoothly.

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  6. Thanks! Maybe I'll give it a second look.

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  7. Thanks for the review. Unlike many reviews regarding this app, yours provided me the information detail I needed to make a more informed decision on purchasing it. I use an iPad, so hopefully the features are fairly similar.

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  8. I thought I'd mention there's a new free bird identification app for the Northeast and North-Central US, for Android: http://bit.ly/birdidapp - it's the opposite of elaborate, just a simple checklist of characteristics for identifying birds, giving results for those checked. Advantages are that it's tiny (even fits on my terrible smartphone), free, stable, and helps train beginners in the things to look for when birdwatching.

    Full disclosure: my older son (in college) wrote it. That said, it's based on solid data and includes nearly 300 species. My web version is here (accessible by anything with a browser): http://www.realtimerendering.com/birds/birds.html - just a hobby, no advertising nor money to be made. I live in Ithaca, NY, so the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has helped inspire me to do my little bit for birding.

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