posted March 8th, 2011; last edited February 4th, 2013 –– David Sibley

The Sibley eGuide to Birds App

The Sibley Guide to Birds – the most popular, most comprehensive, and fastest-selling printed field guide to North American birds – is now available in digital form as an app for several mobile phone platforms.

Scroll down for a description of features. FAQ and trouble-shooting is here.

The entire content of the Sibley Guide to Birds – over 6600 images, every word of text, 800 range maps – along with the songs and calls of nearly every species… and all in your pocket!

for iPhone and iPod touch

for Android OS

for Kindle Fire

for Windows Phone 7

for Blackberry 

Want to test it before you buy?

For iPhone and iPod you can check out the Lite version for free at iTunes. This is a fully functional version of the app that includes only 30 species. See how it works before you buy.

Lite versions for other platforms are coming soon.

Features

All of the content of the printed book is carried over to the electronic edition:

  • Over 6600 images of 810 species
  • Every species illustrated in flight and perched, and every major variation of age, season, or sex is shown
  • Detailed descriptions of songs and calls, comparing similar species
  • Detailed coverage of subspecies and regional variation
  • Detailed maps show winter and summer range, and also migratoin and rare occurrence
  • Measurements of length, wingspan, and weight for every species

In addition, the eGuide does things a printed book can’t do:

  • Play audio recordings of over 2300 different calls and songs, contributed by Lang Elliott, Kevin Colver, and others, the most complete collection of North American bird sounds available in a single package
  • Filter species to show only the birds found in a single state or province, or only the most commonly-seen species
  • Filter species by color, shape, size, and habits
  • Personal sightings log
  • Many future improvements planned

Easy and intuitive navigation

In designing this app I wanted to make the navigation easy and intuitive, requiring a minimum of “taps” or “clicks” to get to the important information.
Find any species in seconds by typing a few letters of its name, or by scrolling through the list (either alphabetically or taxonomically)
Swipe left or right from any species to view the previous or next species in the list1
Swipe up and down to scroll through the full series of images for each species
Tap images to view full screen, and rotate to landscape mode for even larger images
Tap text to view full screen
Icons lead to map, audio, and list features

Filter species by region, and also by the most commonly seen species in that region
Filter by size, color, shape, and habits

The only eGuide that allows you to compare two species images, maps, or sounds at once on the same screen (examples below)

How to use the guide

The updated interface uses swiping motions to navigate: up and down for images of the same species, left and right for other species. Buttons for map and sounds are on the upper right.

A tap on the image expands it to full screen, swiping your finger up and down scrolls through all images of the species, while swiping left or right moves to previous and next species.

Turning the device expands the image further to fill the screen in landscape view, swiping up or down scrolls through all images of the species.

Tapping the text instantly makes it full screen, and rotating to landscape view increases the size of the text for easier reading.

Maps are now higher resolution and can be viewed full screen.

Comparisons of any two species (or even two variations of the same species) are easy to set up, and swiping either species up or down scrolls through all images of that species, while swiping the top image left or right moves to previous or next species.

Comparison species can also be viewed side-by-side in landscape mode simply by turning the device.

Tapping the "voice" icon while in the compare screen makes it easy to compare songs and calls of any two species.

Update Feb 2013

As of the Feb 2013 update, search results show a thumbnail of the bird, and the species names can be displayed in French, Spanish, or Latin, as well as English.

Comparing platforms

The iPhone and Android versions are essentially identical to each other in content and functionality, with only very minor differences. The biggest differences will be seen in the lower resolution screens of some devices running Android OS, but when comparing the app on devices with similar screens users should see virtually no difference between them other than a few inherent differences in user interface.

The Blackberry app includes all of the content and virtually all of the functionality described for the Sibley eGuide (including regional filters as of May 2011), but currently does not include the compare feature found in the iPhone and Android apps. The compare feature cannot run on the small screen of many Blackberry devices, and there are no plans to add it to the Blackberry app. Most Blackberry devices are not operated by touch screen, and therefore the user interface is quite different, but navigation is still quick and easy using the scroll wheel and hardware buttons.

Resources

A discussion forum for users of the product can be found here, please feel free to join in, leave comments, tell us what you like or don’t like. We will be continuing to develop the program.

Instructions and tips for using the program are here

Read an interview with David about the iPhone guide at Birder’s World here

Developed by MyDigitalEarth

Notes

  1. non touch-screen devices use buttons and menus to achieve a similar functionality []

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