Review; Audubon Mammals, by Green Mountain Digital
Audubon Mammals, by 2 HD, by Green Mountain Digital (universal binary)
• Multiple methods to look up mammals
• Nice information database
• Must create an account to use checklist option
• Limited use of multimedia
A few weeks ago I reviewed a birdwatch app, so when I saw Audubon Mammals, I thought I would give it a try. Audubon has a few other "nature" based apps that I will be taking a look at as well, for people who might be interested in using their iPhone or iPad when out on trails, hiking, or something like that.
Audubon Mammals is a app designed to help you identify mammals that you may see when you are outside. Ranging from the common squirrel to the somewhat rare jaguar, this guide makes it possible to find, identify, and obtain information about a wide range of mammals found in North America.
One nice thing about this app that I noticed right away is that you can try to identify mammals by general shape. Now, they list general shapes in different mammal categories (cat, bear, mice and rats, etc) so you do need to know something about the animal you see, but it is a big improvement over not being able to use visual characteristics at all. I still wish there was some sort of guided "Q&A" that could be used to help identify mammals (Does it have four legs? Is it bigger than a small dog? Is it brown, black, or tan?) but this is a big step in the right direction for someone who may not be familiar with all types of mammals in North America.
In addition to using the visual guide, you can search for a mammal's name or browse by family. Once you find the animal (or are just looking) you get taken to a page with lots of useful information - range, pictures, voice, description, etc. You can share the fact you just saw an animal (via email or Facebook - no twitter integration), or you can "add a sighting". More on this last feature later.
While there are lots of images of most animals (including sketches, photographs, tracks, and dwelling in most cases), there is no video and no 3-D rendered models. The photographs are nice (not just a picture from a zoo), but the additional video or models would be great to have on the iPad or iPhone. There is a button for "voice", which presumably has a recording, but the animals I tried simply took you to a page that said "we are looking for voice recordings, please send us any you have". The range listing is great, but it doesn't integrate with the GPS (it would be great to have it automatically say "Not found where you are" right on the animal description).
The information about the animals is pretty complete, and there are included reference guides like (How to find mammals" and "natural history of mammals". They even have a list of endangered mammals and a glossary of terms. There is a journal option, but in order to create a journal where you can record what you have seen you need to create an account. As I make it a practice not to create accounts in apps that force you to do so, I can't comment on the method, quality, or ease of making notes about what animals you have seen. I would hope there is a place to incorporate notes and/or video/pictures from your sightings.
All in all, I found this to be a nicely designed field guide for mammals. It is a universal binary, so you can use it on your iPhone or iPad. While there are some obvious features that I think would be great to add (like video), the search and reference features are very handy and easy to use. At $4.99, the price is right for a useful field guide like this. Four out of five stars.
(pictures will be posted later...having a problem with my computer here)
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
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