Among the multitudes of education apps available for the iPad, a growing trend is the focus on nature applications – both for what they can teach and for the inherent beauty of the content. Covering diverse areas from a variety of nature’s domains, here is a list of our favorite 10 nature apps for the iPad.
1) Leafsnap (Free)
Leafsnap is the first in a series of electronic field guides being developed by Columbia University, University of Maryland and Smithsonian Institution in a joint collaboration. Containing some stunning high-resolution images of leaves, flowers, fruit and much more, this app uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves. All the user needs is a leaf and a white background and the app will do the rest. Leafsnap currently covers the trees native to the Northeast and Washington, D.C., but plans to expand soon.
2) Sci.Spy (Free)
Sci.Spy is a fantastic wildlife photography and observation app that allows the user to take a picture of anything and share it with millions of people worldwide in the name of scientific research. Nature snaps can be submitted to help in the mission to increase the knowledge of the natural world or just to share your own fun observations. Upon submission, all photos are automatically date-stamped, geo-mapped, classified and entered into an online database available at SciSpy.com. They are then available for scientists around the world to analyze and use them in their own research.
When it comes to nature guides for your iPad, Audubon has a wealth of apps covering many branches of science and nature. This multi-subject app is the most comprehensive of the lot, helping the user to identify birds, mammals, wildflowers and trees – all in incredibly beautiful graphics, with literally thousands of images to choose from. The app comes with some very useful features, including functions that allow the user to track and annotate sightings with a personal journal feature and share observations through email and Facebook.
4) Birds Pro HD – Nature Mobile ($11.99)
The Birds Pro HD version of the Nature Mobile series is an extraordinarily detailed app covering approximately 230 common European bird species with 1500 photographs and 460 sounds, as well as comprehensive information about behavior, range and habitat. The photographs are amazingly life-like on the iPad screen, and it’s a great introductory guide for beginners and for browsing at home before you go on a field trip. For each species you can find out even obscure aspects of their physical make-up, and it’s a great companion for the amateur and more seasoned birdwatcher alike.
5) NatureFind (Free)
NatureFind is a very useful app that will locate the closest parks, forests and nature centers for the user. Thousands of places of interest have been carefully selected by NatureFind and are accompanied by descriptions, interactive maps, photos and other features. This app will guide you to parks, zoos, botanical gardens, nature centers, natural history museums, trails, wildlife refuges and much more. It’s a great tool, whether you’re living in a city or out in the suburbs.
6) MyNature Animal Tracks ($6.99)
If you’re a lover of nature and a curious type, then this is the app for you. MyNature Animal Tracks will help those who find themselves wondering about a set of tracks that they have discovered – which way was the animal heading, what animal was it and how long ago was it here? The app’s database includes different categories organized by shape and size, and it comes with excellent illustrations, measurements, styles and intimate details of many different animals. The app also includes excellent photography and some nice features to help you keep track of your finds.
7) Butterfly Collection ($1.99)
Butterfly Collection gives users the rewarding experience of roaming the world of butterflies from the convenience of their iPads. Over 240 members of the beautiful and fascinating family of butterflies and moths are available for the user’s perusal, featuring photographs of actual insects. Not only can you scroll through stunning galleries and alphabetically explore these extraordinary winged creatures, but you can also animate the insects’ wings with superb graphics.
8) World Atlas HD ($1.99)
Maps of the world are transformed into enthralling images with this informative National Geographic app. Functioning as a combination of a traditional atlas and an online map, this app will allow the user to explore faraway places as easily as the local surroundings. ’Detailed information of a location is easily accessed, and National Geographic’s trademark illustrations look great on the iPad. Users will have a lot of fun spinning and zooming around the 3D globe in search of new and interesting places.
9) Great Barrier Reef: The Ultimate Guide ($3.99)
As the name suggests, this app provides a comprehensive guide to anyone with an interest in or planning to visit one of Australia’s and the world’s greatest wonders. The photos are as stunning as you might expect and will whet the appetite of many with designs on taking a trip to the Reef. Details of everything from tourist attractions to secluded beaches and insider tips on the best available accommodations are included, as well as information on the Great Barrier reef itself.
10) Great Migrations (Free)
Based on the National Geographic Channel’s global television series of the same name, Great Migrations takes users on a trip around the world to witness the incredible journeys millions of animals make for the survival of their species. The content is excellent, and the images illuminating, as you get inside the stories of the planet’s species and their movements. The journeys of six animals – including the zebra, elephant and monarch butterfly – are documented and accompanied by migration maps, photos and video.
Main image captured from Butterfly Collection
All thumbnails captured from iTunes