First, a disclaimer: When it comes to technology, I’m a late adopter. And using a smartphone is certainly no exception. Sure, I’ve figured out how to make and receive phone calls, but apps? What do I need those for?!
But now that I’ve had my iPhone 4 for a few months, I’m beginning to discover ways to use it for connecting with nature when we’re on the go.
My small collection of favorites will continue to grow in time, I’m sure. But for now, here are my 5 favorite apps for getting in touch with nature when we’re out and about:
Geocaching ($9.99; iPhone, iPod touch & iPad, Android)
Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played with a GPS device. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors.
How we use it: We don’t have a separate GPS device, so this app allows us to go geocaching anytime we have the phone. Which has translated into much more geocaching.
iBird Explorer Western (on sale for $4.99; iPhone & iPad)
There are five versions of iBird covering major regions of North America (and another in Canada). iBird offers identification, behavior, habitat and ecology information, plus photographs, range maps and playable calls.
How we use it: We’ve used iBird to help us identify backyard bird calls. And on the go to try to figure out the species of a bird we’ve spotted.
Instagram (Free; iPhone, iPod touch & iPad)
Snap a photo, choose a filter to transform the look and feel and share with friends. It’ll store all your photos in one handy location, too.
How we use it: Taking a picture on my phone is quick and easy – so much so that the kids and I are capturing many more moments in nature than ever before. Moments I missed in the past running off to find the camera.
MomMaps (Free; iPhone, iPod touch & iPad, Android)
MomMaps features more than 28,000 locations from 28 metro areas and counting. Search for kid-friendly parks, playgrounds, restaurants, museums and indoor play areas. You’ll find contact information, reviews by parents and directions.
How we use it: I search the Park category for new spots to explore near us before we head out. We’ve also used it on the go to find a park in an area we weren’t familiar with.
ParkFinder (Free; iPhone, iPod touch & iPad)
After you enter your zip code or city and select an activity – say bird watching, picnicking or hiking – ParkFinder directs you to nearby national parks, state parks, or national forests that fit the bill.
How we use it: So far, I’ve used it to plan future nature adventures, but I envision using it while we travel, too.
PLUS, even more apps for nature and outdoor enthusiasts:
- 25+ Nature and Wildlife Mobile Apps from the National Wildlife Federation
- There’s an outdoor app for that … from OutsideMom.com
Your turn! What’s your favorite app for connecting with nature?