I think the iNaturalist app is causing people to underrate iNaturalist.org

Hello my fellow iNatters :-)
As a heavy iNaturalist.org user, I have been annoyed by how useless iNaturalist app is compared to the web version. I understand that it is much more simple and portable, however it lacks almost all the useful functions of iNaturalist.org like explore, identify, filtering, direct message, profile, and many more, and I have been finding that most app users end up quitting iNaturalist without knowing the true usefulness of iNaturalist.org.

The app version of iNaturalist is in fact less useful than other similar apps such as Biome, which makes a clear reason for people to not to use it, and also most app users never realise nor respond to comments on their observations, probably because they can’t be bothered to check their email every time.
I really hope iNat app to clearly recommend iNaturalist.org when anyone downloads it until iNat app has all the functions available on iNat.org.
I would like to hear people’s opinions about this.


It depends on your workflow, I suspect. The app is good for a quick snap of a critter when you’re out in the field, an initial identification and some supporting search features, but not much else. Meanwhile the web app is where the magic happens and the productivity increases back at base.

Basically you can’t keep everyone happy all of the time.


On earlier threads, depending on which version of the app, observers are not ignoring notifications. They do not GET notifications to ignore.

Also there is no prompt from the app … you have been enjoying the app, now come and try the website!


Is this the Apple app for iNaturalist that you’re referring to? I use the Android app for iNaturalist almost exclusively and it has all the features you’ve mentioned.

The only thing I use the web version of iNaturalist for is mass identifying observations and checking the forums, which is a lot easier on a laptop.


Yes, I agree that app is sometimes useful in the field, but my concern is that people who find iNaturalist app boring often assume that iNaturalist.org is the same thing. It is absolutely different.


That’s interesting. I’ve never used android- sounds like it’s much better than the iPhone app!
Thanks for the information.

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If they do not get notifications, it is worse. iNaturalist is all about intracting with people and iPhone app lacks most of functions which make it possible… :(


Comments they should see.
If they come back to look.


That’s the nature (pun intended) of mobile versus desktop app design. They are always going to be different, and some are better for certain use cases than others. There are very few mobile apps that can deliver the same functions that desktop apps can, and vice versa. This is due to differences in form factor (portrait vs widescreen), input devices (mouse and keyboard vs touch) and the presence of peripherals (camera, microphone, etc). Each plays to their strengths. The difference isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. If people don’t get that, then there’s not much that can be done.


The iPhone does currently have fewer features than the Android app, however, staff are working on a universal app that should help address some of these issues :)
(see https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/inaturalist-mobile-app-development-news/27157)


App is the main reason for a half of iNat users to even use iNat. Its main purpose is making observations, you can’t make photos and measure coordinates with website version.


You are choosing to use app or website.
Many / most app users have no idea they have made their choice as they don’t know there is a website.


[quote=“igor117, post:11, topic:35349”]
Its main purpose is making observations, you can’t make photos and measure coordinates with website version.
[/quote] Exactly. You can make a thick fat app with other functionality but it will only take valuable space on your phone. I prefer a lean and mean app only for making observations.


no Withdraw ID option in the IOS app



Which is an ongoing problem if app users have no idea, but wait there’s more, on the website


Why can’t you make observations in a website version? You make a photo (phone or camera) and download them on web version. If there are GPS data in your gadget, it will download automatically as metadata. And you can correct it manually if you see that GPS has wandered somewhat (which is quite often, by the way and it is much easier to check in web version). I find web version much easier and more precise. When I am talking about iNaturalist to potential newbies, I always advise to have both app and web versions.


As someone who has been using Inaturalist Web for some time and just recently had the app installed on my phone (my old phone didn’t support it), it is safe to say the app is underwhelming and leaves a lot to be desired. For example, nearby observation spots of the same species don’t even display on the map. Don’t get me wrong, with the right UI/UX approach the app can be vastly improved to come much closer to Web experience but it will never be the same experience. In general, I prefer doing anything on computer vs phone.


The inaturalist app, like many apps derived from web, has its shortcomings, but is far from useless.
I get notifications for ID updates, and comments. I’ve used the Explore page to browse regional observations. The app always crashes when I explore beyond 2 pages, or thereabout.

Primarily, I use the app for observation uploads since observations are made on my phone these days. Thus, more convenient to sync mobile photos to mobile app.

I’ve responded to messages. And read user profiles. Negative about following users in-app.

Maybe you should spend more time on the app for a comprehensive user experience.

  1. It’s much faster simply to do it all in the app = more observations.
  2. Coordinates in the metadata of photo are not always very precise, while in the app it determines accuracy of coordinates and it is much more accurate. When it says “accuracy 10 m” it’s more or less precise, while with coordinates in metadata it could be within 100 m and sometimes even worse. I’ve tested a lot with observations from my home and I just know for sure that it’s much more accurate this way.
  3. Most of the regular users doesn’t care about accuracy of information, in the browser version they can put location very roughly, while the app is doing it accurately without their intent, so it’s simply a more reliable source of information when observation is made with app if we’re talking about casual users.
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But still you can upload OBs on the web site, can’t you? Also, you can upload from various gadgets and there is no problem when there is no good connection, besides, you can crop and edit photos prior to uploading when on website. And finally, you cannot browse on various items or data you want to see in iNat when having only app. Another thing - it is much more inconvenient to check the AI suggestions in other internet resources when on phone. I use AI to determine higher taxonomic levels for the organisms which I do not know, so I need checking how realistic the suggestions are. Of course, it is possible to return to them when on web browser but it is double use of time.

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@glycymeris I got the point of your post and I support the message you are trying to spread.

Regarding the app, first of all I think that I can break a lance for it since it is extremely convenient for uploading observations in a nearly real-time manner. And, sincerely, I could not blame those who prefer not to enter too much the “world of iNat” and to limit themselves to use just the app.
On the other hand, agreeing with you, I fear that using just the app, especially for newbies, and remaining unaware of what iNat potentialities really are, could be detrimental for their possible increase in knowledge of natural sciences. If this is possibly hard to explain to a person who would like to use iNat for the first time, anyway I think that subjects such as educators or those who organize events based on the use of the app could play an important role in making people aware of what iNat is in its entirety. As regards, I would never suggest a newbie who is clearly totally unaware of what iNat is to use the app without making a brief course on the most important features of iNat.