Apps to use outside when the weather’s nice
- myGardenAnswers: Take a picture of a flower, app shows closest matches. You can also browse through pictures you’ve already taken. Can be a little hit or miss, but you can learn about other flowers and plants in the process!
- Free, but some features require an email address to activate
- Audubon Birds - A Field Guide to North American Birds: Keep a birdwatching journal in the app. Identify birds by looking up characteristics. . Can’t identify birds from photos like myGardenAnswers, but the search function is pretty easy to use.
- Google Translate: You can enter text to translate to/from over 100 languages. Certain languages can be downloaded so you can translate even without internet/data connection. Handwriting recognition (a little difficult to use on a small screen, but still neat). Use camera to translate text from signs, books, pretty much anything in real time! Everything’s free, and it helps to download a few languages before using it
- Star Chart / NASA: Uses your location to show you what stars and constellations are visible around you. Unlike Google Translate, Star Chart doesn’t use Augmented Reality, just coordinates of what you *should* be able to see. Just like if you were star-gazing without an app, Star Chart is best used in places where there isn’t a lot of light pollution and you can actually see the stars above you. NASA offers stories, history and videos to watch, too.
- Pokemon Go! Our old friend has received some major updates since the last time we talked about it. New characters and more precise tracking features make the game more appealing to new users.
- Photo & Video apps: Some of the apps that we’ve talked about before, like Instagram and Snapchat, offer special location-based filters and stickers to make your posts more special when you’re out and about. On IG, you can search by Location Tags to see pictures that other people have posted at a particular location. You don’t have to be near the location to search for tags.
Sites to explore when the weather’s not so nice
- VR Headsets/360 Videos. VR Headsets, especially simple ones like Google Cardboard, act like modern Holmes Stereoscope, using your phone instead of stereoscopic cards. Special camera rigs are used to film scenes and environments in 360 degrees, then when you view them on a VR headset, you can look all around you as if you were there. Without a VR headset, you can usually still click and drag or swipe around a 360 video to see the environment from all different angles. You can find 360 videos of everything from nature exploration to extreme sports to concerts and museum tours. If you are using a VR headset to watch, take frequent breaks so your eyes don’t get tired and to avoid motion sickness.
- National Parks app by National Geographic: Explore photos and maps of about half of the country’s 59 national parks. Official park & trail guides are available for in-app purchase, but you can use Google Maps or another similar app to explore the National Parks more in-depth.
- Check out audiobooks and e-books from your local library. Library card required. Browse your library’s collection. Downloaded items will disappear once they’re due (no late fees!). You can request a hold on something that’s already checked out or request an extension if you’re not finish reading/listening by the return date.