Nature Mobile Apps
This is a personal guide to the smartphone (iPhone, iPad) nature apps we use when out and about in Beyond. We've listed the apps we actually use, some good (and used regularly) and some less good (used a few times and we're still thinking about them). We use our personal nature apps on the Apple iPhone and iPad. We haven't checked, but many of them are probably available other smartphone platforms as well.
Birds Mobile Apps
Birds of Northern Europe
This is a very good field reference guide. Birds can be listed alphabetic or by group. (Minor gripe: groups are all opened to list all their entries, making it longer to scroll through the list.)
Bird details include multiple photos, distribution maps, complete descriptions. You can select the language used for the bird names and the group (family) names, but the descriptions remain in English.
Collins Bird Guide
The Collins Bird Guide is a large, complete reference, but not it's not that easy to use. Probably better as an at-home reference rather than a field guide.
Birds of Europe
The possibilities groups are good, with silhouettes for quick recognition. This is an OK field guide. You start by selecting a country and the month, to get a list of possibilities. On the plus side, identification might be faster if you're not confronted with out-of-season birds. However, it's not a good overall reference, because you're limited to the birds expected during a specified month at a time.
Birds Pedia Volume 4
Birds Vol 4 isn't a good searching reference, because there is no grouping of types of birds. All birds are in a single alphabetic list only - but there is a search function. No maps.
Select a bird from the list (photos and names), get description and audio of the sound.
Listen/record the birdsong, then identify via ChirpOMatic (similar to Shazam for music). It's accuracy is questionable, but fun to play with.
The Warblr app works the same way.
Butterflies of Europe
Flora, Wildflowers Mobile Apps
Wild Flowers - Fleurs en poche
Excellent to identify wildflowers by combinations of color, petals, etc.
Tree identification, by bark, leaf, etc. Quite good.
A Shazam style plant identifier via the smartphone camera. The interface is confusing. We haven't used it enough to know if it really works.
Hiking Mobile App
IGN, IphiGéNie Hiking
This is an online version of the famous French IGN (1:20'000) hiking maps, but includes other scales as well. The most detailed scale (about 1:1500) gives a satellite-image view.
If you're going to be hiking for more than a week or two, or doing serious hiking in or across France, we strongly recommend this IphiGéNie app. (An unfortunately "cute" name, we just call it the IGN app).
The app is free, of course, but the complete maps of France cost about 15 euros for a year's subscription. We've been using it for a few years now.
Map segments are downloaded dynamically, at whatever scale you want. The downloaded map segments remain on your mobile device, for use out in the wilderness where there's no internet and no cellphone coverage. Before setting out on a hike in a remote area, you download the maps for that area from the comfort of your home (or hotel) wifi,
The IGN map app displays the map, of course, with finger swipes/pinches to change the scale dynamically, and your current position. You can put on a trace that follows you on your hike (and can be named saved), drop pins (that can be named and saved). The trace displays the elapsed time, distance, altitude change and average speed.