I was surfing around for sciency holiday e-cards, when I came across this cute albino alligator looking for a kiss from the California Academy of Sciences. You can choose one of several e-gifts, including polar bear wallpaper, a catchy tune, or a Golden Gate Park field guide mobile application .
If you download the Golden Gate Park Field Guide iPhone app this month, you can just show it at the ticket window for $5 off admission through December 24th. That's a great deal if you happen to be in the San Francisco area.
That inspired me to see what other biology-related free iPhone/iPod Touch applications I could find. I haven't had a chance to try them out yet, but the ones below looked the most interesting. I've noted which ones are available for Android devices as well.
Wildlife and Nature
While the Audubon and Petersons field guides will cost you, there are several apps that allow you to find, record and share wildlife sightings for free.
Project Noah (iPhone App store): Field guide, share wildlife sightings. They have a special project to document the impact of the Gulf oil spill on wildlife. You can your Google account to sign in and share your sightings and photos.
WildObs Observer (iPhone App store; Android Market): Record and share wildlife encounters. Has companion apps: WildObs Lookup (iPhone App store) field guide; WildObs Lookout (iPhone App st0re) to find out what others have observed around your location; and WildObs Naturalist (iPhone App store) to "keep your encounters and re-use them". WildObs is a partner of the National Wildlife Federation's Wildlife Watch. A free WildObs account is required.
Get science-related news.
Nature.com (iPhone App Store): Science news stories and the latest published research in Nature and the other journals from the Nature Publishing Group. News articles, abstracts and some research articles are free.
Molecules and Anatomy
For exploring the bits that organisms are made of.
BioCourseWare: Apps developed by the University of Nottingham, aimed at students in the biological sciences. Their free offerings include a Biology Dictionary, History of Genetics, and Genetic Decoder.
Nature Human Genome Special Edition (iPad App): Nature's Human Genome at 10, repackaged into an interactive app for the iPad. It looks pretty neat, but it's not available for the iPhone.
For learning about animals that no longer walk the Earth.
MEanderthal Mobile App (iPhone App Store, Android): This app from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History allows you to morph yourself into a Neanderthal. I suspect the novelty of this wears off pretty quickly.
If any of you use one of the wildlife spotting apps, how well does it work for you? Is there a better free option?