Collins Bird Guide App for iPhone & iPad etc.
If I had three thumbs they would all be up!
The first part of this review is from a ‘guest reviewer’ who is well known to me. My brief comments follow…
What is it
I'll start here as it seems the best place, although many of you will already know exactly what it is I'm talking about, for those who don't the Collins Bird guide is the premiere European field guide to birds, and they have recently released (with the help of Touch Press) an iPhone/iPad app for it (yeah bird books in Europe are way behind when it comes to technology). The app is basically an interactive version of the book (no idea why it isn't on android yet or even if it will be).
Ease of use
It is a very simple app (at first appearance), open it up and you have a list of the bird families found in Europe (these can be listed taxonomically or alphabetically through the settings), touching one of the family groups will list all the birds in that category for you to browse through, you are then able to select the bird you are looking. All nice and simple.
What is there
Once you are looking at the birds, you will see a nice group of drawings (the images from the book) that can be zoomed into fully (ideal for identification) or you can look at distribution maps, bird atlas data (UK data via in app purchase of £1.99) video (assuming you have paid [vol 1 - £3.99, vol 2 - 5.99] for and downloaded them) or similar species comparisons. You will also find a call button (sorry can't think what better to call it) by pressing this you can hear the bird call (assuming there is one in the system, not all birds have one). Below all this is the excellent text from the original book, as well as the option to add the bird to lists (life list is the standard but you can add new lists yourself).
How well does it work
So far so good, I used it just the other day to make sure I was looking at what I thought I was looking at while in the field. So far the only limitations are with the iPhone not the app (I have a 5c) sometimes things are a little small, but you can zoom up, and the calls can be a little quiet (you can turn them into looping via the settings). I've not found a single issue so far (and I'm quite confident I won't), it is really easy to use and really useful to have with you (sure saves carrying a book around with me, and I have the calls for instant playback if I hear something I'm not sure of.
An excellent app, intuitive, useful and nice to use, full of all you could want/need to identify the bird you have found, and right in your pocket (assuming you have the iPhone app)an European/UK birder with an iPhone/iPad should own this app! High praise indeed. My only gripe is having to pay extra for videos (2 sets) and the bird atlas (although as some money goes to organisers of the atlas - The BTO - so I'm not worried about that, I just think you could increase the full cost and have them already there).
I can certainly add my endorsement of all of the foregoing and more. I downloaded the maps and regard them as essential… if I were the Collins App people I would have built this in and up the price accordingly as I consider it en essential part of the app.
I went all the way and downloaded all the videos – and am glad I did, perhaps no essential but a welcome addition, which was well worth paying for.
As for the App itself, there is a great deal more to be discovered… like comparing confusion species built in and the ability to search by multiples such as searching for all birds with a crest that are found in France… I am sure there is more to discover and I am looking forward to playing more in the field than I have been able to so far.
The Collins Field Guide to Europe has hardly been matched and not surpassed since its publication… if you are not too technically challenged you will find it has now been surpassed by doing all it did on paper and adding in what is possible on an iPad. I now carry my iPad whenever I can and find the large size pictures essential to my aging eyes.
If I had three thumbs they would all be up for this – Europe’s best birding app by far.
28th August 2014