Peterson’s Field Guides were made to be taken, quite literally, into the field to help birdwatchers and nature lovers quickly identify specimens that often appear and disappear in a matter of seconds. It remains to be seen whether Appweavers’ new iPhone and iPad app of the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt classic will improve on the book’s utility, but several of the app’s features, however, suggest they might.
Perhaps the most dramatic advantage this format has over the book is the audio feature, which includes countless samples of bird calls. Just as dramatic, if not as obvious, is the apps’ employment of the content as a database searchable in a variety of ways: by group, taxonomy and species, for example. The search function, moreover, allows the user to combine any two or more variables—state, time of year, habitat, nest location, etc.—to narrow down the list of likely suspects. In browsing mode, as in the book, like species are grouped together on the faithfully reproduced illustration pages; unlike the book, the text entry for each species can be quickly accessed with a single tap of the text icon. The app also makes it a snap to keep lists of bird sightings—no more need to cram notes in the blank end pages of the book. Articles on feeding birds at home and stalking them in the wild are informative, if a little difficult to read on the iPhone (though easier on the iPad).
Bound to become a must-have app for tech-savvy birders.