My wife and I have been leading hikes and trips for what seems like years, but in the grand scheme of things it hasn’t been that long. It has, however, been long enough we can both remember taking papers and books in the field with groups. Being a perpetual “techy”, I couldn’t have been more excited when the “app” revolution began not too long ago.
I first brought an iPod Touch in the field four seasons ago and sadly, was using a competitor’s field guide app. While the hike was successful and folks loved how I was using the app, it was lacking in some areas, most importantly in songs. One of the most requested techniques folks want to learn are bird songs. When you play a song from an app, it better sound like the bird we’re hearing in the field or people’s faces turn to confusion or disbelief, the last thing you want to see when teaching. After a bit of disgust, I went back to the drawing board and found the Audubon Field Guide to North-American Birds. One the smartest features in this golden App is the interface for bird songs, which includes dialect based on the region at which you find yourself. Genius! I can now dial in to not only an Eastern Towhee song, but an Eastern Towhee from New York (typical song of Midwest or the North) or an Eastern Towhee from Florida (typical song from the South). After reading this, I encourage everyone to go check this exact bird song out in the Audubon Field Guide to North-American Birds App and you should notice a major difference in song between these two dialects.
The song interface is one example of where developers go the extra mile. No app is perfect but the beauty of mobile App technology is you can have different versions and brands all on one device. My expertise is more bird-driven where my wife is more of a generalist. Again, this technology and Audubon (Green Mountain Digital) bring to the table, a plethora of apps ranging from Trees to Flowers, Amphibians to Birds, or even basic Apps for enjoying nature while in Florida or out west. We love using this technology in the field but it has to be done discretely and at the right time. We choose to hike along with groups while the technology is in our pockets and then as we take breaks, the technology can come out and do its job.
It’s definitely safe to say the App revolution has changed the world we live in but don’t get so immersed in your devices that you start missing those true moments in Nature.