Compare iPhone Birding Apps (Update August 1, 2011)

On iPhone this table is best viewed in Landscape mode. Tap the Earth icon in upper right of iPhone screen to open table in Safari. Bold = best, most, etc. See any mistakes? Email: support@ibird.com

iBird Explorer PRO 4.0

The Sibley eGuide to Birds of North America 1.5.1

Audubon Birds - A Field Guide to North American Birds 1.6

National Geographic's Handheld Birds 2.0

Peterson's Birds of North America 1.0

IMPORTANT STUFF iBird Sibley Audubon Nat Geo Peterson
Developer/Publisher Mitch Waite Group Cool Ideas LLC Green Mountain Digital National Geographic Society Appweavers
Latest App Update June 10, 2011 Apr 7, 2011 Apr 8, 2011 Aug 31, 2010 July 4, 2011
Current App Price $19.99 (g) $29.99 $14.99 $9.99 (d) $14.99
Universal App? (works on iPad in full screen mode) Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Number of updates to date 13 (4.0, 3.2, 3.1, 3.0, 2.4, 2.3, 2.2, 1.8.4, 1.7.9, 1.7.0, 1.6.1, 1.5.0, 1.0) 5 (1.6, 1.5.2, 1.5.1, 1.01, 1.0) 7 (1.6, 1.5, 1.4, 1.3.1, 1.3, 1.2, 1.1, 1.0) 4 (2.0.0, 2.0, 1.2, 1.0) 3(1.2.2,1.2.1, 1.1)
Number of species 924 811 776 867 810
AppShopper.com
Top 200 Charts
(click on small charts to see full size sales graphs)
MAJOR INCLUSIONS iBird Sibley Audubon Nat Geo Peterson
Geographical range North America + Hawaii North America North America North America North America + Hawaii*
Hawaii included? Yes No No No Yes (a)
Includes Drawings? Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Includes Photos? Yes No Yes No No
Includes Drawings and Photos? Yes No No No No
Includes Search Engine? Yes Yes (c) Yes Yes Yes
Size of database 494 MB 342 MB 565 MB 85.3 MB 579 MB
Original Launch date Mar 25, 2009 Feb 8, 2010 Oct 11, 2009 May 4, 2009 Dec 18, 2010
Species Pages
Click on a thumbnail to see how each app handles its "species" information pages. These all use the same bird: the Peregrine Falcon.
CUSTOMER FEEDBACK iBird Sibley Audubon Nat Geo Peterson
App store Stars (current version as of 8-1-11)
5

3

4

3.5

3.5
App store Ratings (current version) 335 11 35 33 29
App store Reviews (current version) 176 7 14 19 1
App store Stars (all versions)
4.5

4

3.5

3.5

4
App store Ratings (all versions) 886 76 277 66 26
App store Reviews (all versions) 424 51 124 37 14
IDENTIFICATION BENEFITS iBird Sibley Audubon Nat Geo Peterson
Automatically shrinks list while typing bird name Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Search engine? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of searchable attributes 35 4 14 5 13
Taxonomic search? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Band Code search? Yes No No No No
Latin name search? Yes No Yes No Yes
SEARCH ENGINE FEATURES iBird Sibley Audubon Nat Geo Peterson
Search by:
Shape Yes Yes (h) Yes No Yes (h)
Size Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Month Yes No Yes Yes Yes
State or province Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Observed State/Month Yes No Yes No No
Region No No Yes No (f) No
Habitat Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Primary color Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Secondary color Yes No No Yes (i) No
Backyard feeder Yes No No No No
Family Yes No No No No
Order Yes No No No Yes
Length, weight, wingspan Yes No No No No
Search by song and song pattern? Yes No Yes No No
Leg color Yes No No No No
Tail shape Yes No No No No
Wing shape Yes No Yes No No
Flight pattern Yes No Yes No No
Bill shape and length Yes No No No No
Pattern related: Head, breast, belly and back pattern Yes No No No No
Game Bird Yes No No No No
Head related Crown, forehead, cere, throat, nape, eye color Yes No No No No
ARTWORK, PHOTOS & SONGS iBird Sibley Audubon Nat Geo Peterson
Multiple photos per species? Yes No Yes No No
Slideshow Feature? Yes No No No No
Multiple illustrations per species? Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Multiple songs per species? Yes Yes Yes No No
Zoomable Images? Yes No (e) Yes Yes Yes
Zoom range 200% none 200% 100% 200%
AUDIO FEATURES          
Animated Waveform? Yes No No No No
Animated Spectrogram? Yes No No No No
Detailed Vocalization explained? Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Similar Sounding? Yes No No No No
Phonetics Text? Yes No No No No
Loop Sounds? Yes No No No No
IDENTIFICATION AIDS iBird Sibley Audubon Nat Geo Peterson
Range maps? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Similar birds? Yes No Yes (b) No Yes
Similar song links? Yes No No No No
Conservation details? Yes No No No No
Family descriptions? Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Flickr? Yes No No No No
Wikipedia? Yes No No No No
Interesting/Cool Facts Yes No No Yes Yes
Depth of database High Low High Medium High
MISCELLANEOUS iBird Sibley Audubon Nat Geo Peterson
Compare 2 Birds No Yes No No No
Camera to add photos No No Yes No Yes
Gallery No No Yes No No
Favorites/checklist Yes No Yes No Yes
Species notes/life list Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Online or iTunes backup Yes No Yes No No
Embedded help Yes Yes Yes No Yes
NAVIGATION iBird Sibley Audubon Nat Geo Peterson
Sequence pages Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Sequence images Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Sequence range maps Yes Yes No No No
Sequence songs Yes No No No No
Sequence everything Yes Yes No No No
PERFORMANCE iBird Sibley Audubon Nat Geo Peterson
Responsiveness (1) Excellent Excellent Fair Fair Poor
Page Refresh Very Fast Quick Very Slow Sluggish Typical
Lookup Speed Very Fast Very Fast Very Slow Typical Sluggish
Startup Time Quick Very Fast Sluggish Typical Very Fast
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESS iBird Sibley Audubon Nat Geo Peterson
Strengths Search engine, zoomable images, large amount of data per species, has both photos and drawings. Large number of drawings per species, excellent Sibley art, large number of bird calls, compare 2 birds. Sighting and life-list built in. Good species details, multiple song vocalizations. Good species information, consistency of artwork. Illustrations are labeled. Peterson's illustrations with "Peterson ID System" arrows. Interesting life list feature.
Weakness Needs more female and juvenile illustrations, needs improved life list features. Illustrations have minimal zoom and are not full screen size, weak search engine and UI. No illustrations, not enough photos; many are fuzzy. Complex UI Illustrations are fuzzy when zoomed. No photos. Many illustrations still do not fit in frames of iPhone.
NOTES
  (g) Summer sale, price may return to $29.99. (c) Sibley search uses broad categories, such as All water birds, Sparrow size, etc. (b) Similar birds doesn't work on iPhone. (d) Price is returning to $14.99 (a) Incomplete data on all Hawaiian birds. Range maps do not include Hawaii.
  (e)Tap an image to see full screen drawings. Zoom is only 10% of original. You can input conflicting ZIP, Region and State/Province at the same time. (f) Region cell is really a State-Province selector. Focus on feeders, nests and eggs.
  (h) Petersen and Sibley use Type. (i) HHB Color search does not distinguish between primary or secondary color, making it difficult to use. (h) Petersen and Sibley use Type.
(1) Responsiveness is the overall mix of all reaction times, including how long does it take to go from tapping a bird name in the browse list to its species page, how long does it take to go from tapping range map button to seeing the range map, etc.
iBird Pro
In iBird the illustration and all the data about it are accessed by a sliding array of 14 buttons at the bottom of the page.

Each button opens a large scrolling screen full of information about each topic.

There are over 14 full pages of data per species.
iBird Full Screen
A single tap opens the illustration in full screen.

The details displayed with the image are crisp, comprehensive and easy to read.

At a glance you will see the Latin name, family name, order, bandcode and overview of the species.
iBird Photo
In addition to beautiful hand drawn illustrations iBird also provides several thousand photos.

In this case we see a detailed flight view of the Peregrine falcon. iBird is the only app that offers BOTH illustrations and photographs.
Sibley
In Sibley the only detail is provided in a short paragraph under the drawing.

Range map and audio are accessed by two buttons.

This lack of information is somewhat compensated by the larger number of drawings of each species.

However the drawings are the same tiny size as those in his book.
Sibley Full Screen
Here is the Sibley drawing after tapping it once to make it full screen.

Note how small the image is and that it can't be zoomed any larger.

Other than it being an adult of the Pacific variety no additional information is provided.

To read about the bird you need to close the screen and scroll the tiny half devoted to text.
Audubon
Audubon has a static menu of 8 buttons at the bottom of the screen.

To read about the species you close the photo and tap the section called Description.

The quality of the information in the app is very good.

The app uses only photos, there are no illustrations like are found in Sibley and iBird.
Audubon Full Screen
Here is the Audubon photo after tapping it once to make it full screen.

Note the image does not use entire screen of the iPhone.

While the photo can be zoomed it becomes fuzzy.
National Geographic
The National Geographic app has a single scrolling page.

To access the remaining information about the bird you scroll down to 5 categories for describing the bird.

The information is adequare but not as extensive as other apps. Suprisingly the company that produces the finest printed field guide on the market did not put the same effort into their app.
National Geographic Full Screen
To see the larger version of the illustration you tap the Images menu.

Unfortunately when the image is zoomed it pixelates and becomes fuzyy as you can see here.

The National Geographic app is also one of the smallest with only about 83 MB while the others are all around 500 MB.
Peterson
Peterson can be a perplexing app to navigate. There is no single isolated image of the species, instead its part of a collage of other drawings.

It's the only app that has no search box where you can access the bird by typing its name. Instead you must manually scroll though "pages" of drawings until you find the composite containing the species you want, tap it, then tap an icon to see the illustration full size.
Peterson Full Size
Here we see the largest view of the species.

Unfortunately Roger Peterson drew a collection of birds which overlap so its not possible to isolate just a single view of any species.

As you can see the head of the female is cut off. There is no way to pan the drawing to bring it into view nor can it be zoomed to see more detail.