Appletell reviews Butterflies of Britain and Ireland for iPhone, iPod touch

Sections: iPhone, iPhone OS, SDK and hacks, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, iPod, iPod touch, Reviews

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butterflies of britain and ireland iconCategory: Nature guide
Developer: Birdguides Ltd.
Minimum Requirements: iPhone OS 2.2
Compatibility: iPhone and iPod touch
File Size: 62.3 MB
Price: $16.99
Availability: Now
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1

My wife is a hardcore birder, so I understand the mania that nature watchers have about being able to identify the animals and insects they see. She has—I kid you not—field guides with photographs, field guides with paintings, and field guides for identifying the age and sex of a bird by the length of its feathers. Most of the books are heavy enough that if one fell off a book shelf and landed on a toe, some heavy-duty profanity would result. I speak from experience.

It’s all the color illustrations that make these books so heavy, but also so vital: tiny differences in coloration can be crucial in identifying what you’re looking at. These differences are no less important if your hobby is watching butterflies, something my wife is just starting to get into to supplement her birding madness.

swallowtail butterfly

For butterfly watchers across the pond, Birdguides has released their guide to Butterflies of Britain and Ireland on the iPhone. It’s one of those applications that not a lot of people will need, but those who need it will probably use it a lot, if not love it. Featuring the 61 species that regularly occure in those territories, each one gets numerous photos and illustrations depicting the insect at every stage of it’s life; from egg to caterpillar to butterfly.

butterfly distribution

A simple touch-and-flick interface takes you through numerous photos, showing each ‘fly above and below, in flight, at rest, and any sexual dimorphism (the differences between males and females). There’s also a map showing where it’s likely to be found, a “phenogram” chart of its life cycle, and an information page describe the butterfly, a text description, and helpful identification tips.

butterfly close up view

The pictures rotate and are zoomable, which is good, allowing you to get a closer look at the features. While the photos at 100% are bright, clear, and detailed, if you zoom pst 100%, you’ll start to see a lot of artifacting from the compression.

At $16.99, Butterflies of Britain and Ireland ain’t cheap, and its audience is limited. But truly serious British and Irish lepidopterists (and those visiting to add to their list) will consider it a deal to have multiple illustrations and photographs for every butterfly in the islands without having to haul a field guide around with them.

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