March 1, 2017 (Vol. 37, No. 5)
Strong Points: Handy animal reference for identification and education purposes
Weak Points: Some features not working, coarse spatial resolution
The Map of Life app allows users to interact with the natural world around them (as long as they have Internet access or a data plan, at least). Based on the user’s location, the app allows the user to browse a list of species expected to be in the area based on the species’ natural range. (As a result of this, the spatial resolution of this feature is rather coarse. For example, I doubt that I will actual encounter a southern copperhead pit viper in downtown Boston…) Despite this limitation, the feature is a useful tool for species identification purposes if one encounters an interesting animal in the wild, and the app acts as a handy reference to learn about animals in one’s vicinity (pulling information from Wikipedia). In theory, users can submit reports of their own animal sightings; however, this feature is not working at the time of this review.