Sunday, March 24, 2013

Product Review: BirdLog eBird App

BirdLog is a bird checklist app for your mobile device. According to its advertisers, BirdLog is a breakthrough because it is the app which "for the first time allows quick-and-easy data entry directly from the field".

Let me get straight to the point: BirdLog is a rip off. The burn is twice as intense because I broke one of my own rules when I was considering the purchase of this app: I believed the hype about it. I read the glowing reviews on eBird as well as other praise lavished upon this app around the internet. I should have taken it as a warning, but instead I uncritically jumped on the bandwagon.

There are two deceptive aspects of the way this product is marketed. The first one is that the developers have not made it sufficiently clear that this app is only useful in the field if you have an data plan on your device and you are in proximity to an available cellular network. I have an iPad that is WiFi only. Perhaps I should have realized that I needed a data plan for the maps to work correctly away from a wireless connection, but I didn't. My second complaint is that the folks at eBird who provided such glowing reviews have an undeclared (or at least insufficiently declared) conflict of interest in that a portion of each sale is donated to them. The eBird endorsements were the most influential on me in terms of my purchase decision, however I did not realize at the time that eBird and BirdLog were in cahoots. Not only did I make an improvident bargain, I have also been disillusioned.

In conclusion, BirdLog only does one useful thing that the regular eBird doesn't, namely it enables you to enter your location using the GPS capability of your mobile device. If you only have access to WiFi you will find this feature to be unavailable in the field.

For someone with an iPhone with a data plan, eBird might be mildly helpful. From my perspective, BirdLog is an over-hyped waste of money.

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