This App Identifies Plants and Animals Using Your Smartphone’s Camera


One of the greatest things about smartphone photography is that the sheer volume of photographs being produced now dwarfs any output through collected history prior to the advent of the iPhone and its ilk. But do we know what we’re photographing?

Image via iNaturalist

Often the answer is no and, unless you are a botanist, the many beautiful mysteries of the natural world in your photography might escape your notice.

That is why iNaturalist developed an app called Seek that not only identifies plants but also animals using your smartphone’s camera. It is being likened in the press to a kind of Shazam for nature.

For those of you that might not know, Shazam is an app owned by Apple that can identify background music using advanced algorithms to match its signature to a database of audio files. Seek’s database currently consists of some 30,000 plants and animals that it can identify using it AI.

Like Shazam, Seek will also keep track of the plants and animals you identify using the app and log them into your own personal journal.

In a bit of a gamification of the app, Seek will also award you badges for the things you discover.

The description for the app reads in part, “Drawing from millions of wildlife observations on iNaturalist, Seek shows you lists of commonly recorded insects, birds, plants, amphibians, and more in your area…Scan the environment with the Seek Camera to identify organisms using the tree of life.”

As of right now you can get Seek for iOS and related devices and we’re sure that an Android edition is right around the corner.

What do you think about Seek? Does it sound like something that you would use? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


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About Author

Kehl is our staff photography news writer and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here

Can’t wait for an android version. i love trees and it would be great to know which is which, my favorite is sycamore and i can recognize it as well as birch. must be something about the white bark trees that draws my attention. plants and flowers also on my list of wanting to know all their names.

Fantastic to see this type of app. This is what technology should be used for – using it to help the planet and recognise plants and animals. Also a great educational tool for kids. I have downloaded the app immediately but also noticed that iNaturalist have their own app. So, what’s the difference between Seek and iNaturalist ?

Y’all know this isn’t exactly revolutionary…. Google lens is built into Android and can do a lot of the same things.

I have the Seek app and love it! However I accidentally deleted one of the pictures on my picture app which took it out of the observation too! What can I do? I don’t see any way to delete this observation so I can try again!

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