Ah, the great outdoors. We should all make an effort to get out into nature occasionally. It’s a fantastic way to clear your mind and de-stress, not to mention the health benefits associated with fresh air and some light exercise.
Of course, one of the best parts about being outdoors is not having any tech to distract you. But if you’re a nature lover, perhaps you should take your phone with you. The Google Play Store is packed with apps for people who enjoy hanging out in the elements.
Let’s look at several awesome Android apps for nature lovers.
1. Audubon Birds of North America
Audubon Birds of North America is the premier bird catalog app for anyone living in the United States. It features images, descriptions, sounds, and habitat locations of 808 species.
One of the app’s best features is NatureShare. It’s a social network of birdwatchers who share sightings, photos, maps, and other information to help you track down the species you’re looking for.
The app also draws on the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s eBird database, thus letting it provide information about which species other people recently saw in your location.
Download: Audubon Birds of North America (Free)
2. MyNature Animal Tracks
If you’re more interested in land-based animals, MyNature Animal Tracks is the app for you.
It helps you identify animals’ tracks using a combination of paw print images, information about their droppings, and example sounds. You can also view the database in the context of your location, helping you narrow your search more effectively.
Download: MyNature Animal Tracks ($5) [No longer available]
3. PlantNet Plant Identification
Hopefully, the previous two apps will help you identify the fauna in your location. Now it’s time to focus on the flora. The Play Store offers quite a few apps to help you recognize plants, but the best is arguably PlantNet Plant Identification.
The app is a collaborative piece from four French research organizations (CIRAD, INRA, INRIA, and IRD). It features thousands of planet records in its database. Better yet, the database is continually growing thanks to fully-moderated user submissions.
The app really shines thanks to its photo recognition. If you take a snapshot of a plant leaf, the app will search its vast database for a match. For best results, put the leaf on a white background before taking the photo.
Download: PlantNet Plant Identification (Free)
4. Smart Tools
When you’re out in the wild, there are some essential tools you should always have with you.
Clearly, you can’t use your phone as a hammer or pickaxe, but it can still fulfill some other functions. The Smart Tools app offers many utilities that outdoor people can make use of. They include a compass, a ruler, a sound meter, a metal detector, and a magnifying glass.
Importantly, the app does not require a data connection in order to function.
Download: Smart Tools ($3)
Note: Your phone needs a magnetic sensor for the app to work.
5. National Parks
Chimani’s National Parks app is essential for anyone in the U.S. who enjoys exploring the country’s parks and coastline. It offers details on more than 400 locations, including all 60 national parks.
Each park comes with a map and information about its history and key features. The maps are interactive, showing points of interest and public facilities. To make your life easier, the app uses the same symbols and icons as the National Park Service.
It’s also worth grabbing some of the company’s park-specific apps. They include more detailed information such as calendars of Ranger events, sunrise and sunset times, hiking trails, and local transport information.
Download: National Parks (Free)
If you have young children, give WildTime a try. It’ll help to pique their interest in wildlife and nature.
The app tries to get kids outside by giving them nature-themed tasks. You select how long you want your task to last (anywhere from 10 minutes to half a day), and WildTime will offer some suggestions.
Example tasks include building a wild den, identifying three birds in your back garden, and finding something natural to match every color of the rainbow.
Download: WildTime (Free) [No longer available]
7. Tree ID – British Trees
Here’s one for any readers in the United Kingdom.
Tree ID – British Trees will help you identify more than 70 species of trees found in the British Isles. You can search using a tree’s bark, leaves, flowers, leaf buds, fruit, or twig.
Each tree has an extensive database entry which includes facts, folklore, history, and human uses, as well as the obligatory high-resolution photo library.
Download: Tree ID – British Trees (Free)
8. Nature’s Notebook
Nature’s Notebook lets you record the wildlife and plant life that you see during the year. You can use it to track bird migrations, log plant flowerings, and a whole lot more.
The app is operated by the USA National Phenology Network. It uses the data you enter in tandem with records from professional scientists to create one of the largest citizen science projects in the world.
You will need to make an account and log your location before you can start recording your sightings.
Download: Nature’s Notebook (Free)
iNaturalist is one part social network, one part wiki.
If you’re not sure what plant or creature you’re looking at, take a picture and post it on the app. The app’s community, which boasts more than 400,000 scientists and naturalists, will help you identify it.
The app also has a group feature. Typically, the groups are centered on specific species or locations and are full of enthusiasts.
Download: iNaturalist (Free)
10. Relaxio Nature Sounds
Let’s end with an app that can replicate the sounds of nature in your own home. It’s perfect if you find yourself lacking the motivation to get wrapped up and go splashing through muddy puddles.
Relaxio Nature Sounds comes with 13 sounds of nature, including:
- Relaxing Ocean
- Mountain Forest
- Windy Mountains
- Evening Lake
- Rain on Grass
- Calm Night
- Warm Camp Fire
You can combine sounds to create customized atmospheres and can set timers so the noises will stop after a predefined amount of time.
Download: Relaxio Nature Sounds (Free)
It’s Time to Go Outdoors With Android
If this list of 10 apps has inspired you to venture outside your front door, make sure you check out some of our other articles before you leave.
Keen walkers should read our list of apps every hiker needs. People who love lying under the stars need to look at our checklist of best camping apps, and anyone with kids in tow should try some outdoor-themed games.