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The research, which appears in the journal Ambio, says while there are some good examples of imaginative products, far more could be done to interpret visits to nature reserves or link up with central biodiversity sites using apps. The ‘holy grail’ of nature-based apps would be one that could identify a bird call or animal noises, which would not only engage the public but also might help scientists classify and assess the health of the natural world, says the research.
Dr Paul Jepson and Professor Richard Ladle analysed nature-themed apps on the Google Play store five years after the launch of the Android market in 2009. They retrieved 6,300 apps that had any sort of nature theme, a 'tiny' fraction of over one million available apps. They found that the majority were personalisation apps (41%), such as wallpapers and ring-tones, and games (37%).