Identifying for others on my phone

Maybe there’s already a topic out there for this… but it’s tough for me to sort through topics right now. You see, I’m on my phone.
So there is always a little downtime at work while I’m waiting for something. I used to use my work computer, with a large monitor, to use the time to ID stuff. We’ve had security changes however, and no more of that for me! Now that the storm of change has passed, I once again have a few minutes to look at others’ observations. I am trying to do so on my phone but navigation isn’t easy. Does anyone else do this and have any tips?
I’m using Safari on an iPhone. I find it easier than the app. But that’s about as far as I’ve gotten.


We rarely identify on iphone because we can’t get close enough to see adequately. When we do id on iPhone, we stick to audio observations on safari because the sound function is suitable. Maybe at work your could use earbuds? Makes us think of the movie the big year. Someone thinks jack black is rocking out to tunes on his device but he is practicing learning bird calls


It was said app is generally not for iding, there’re people who do id on the phone, but it is as you describe much harder, you can do that if you wish as you do, with browser, but maybe it’d be more productive to do something for preparing to id later, on computer?


I mainly use my iPhone when on the site. Sometimes an iPad. I’ve always perceived it as pretty easy, but that’s probably because it’s always been my main way of using the site. And the forum, actually.

I like using the “identify” page on Safari because I can keep going back to the same page with ease, since a new page opens when you go to an observation’s page. And if I want to identify one by one all in a row, there’s arrows so you can go through observations with those without it opening a brand new page. I’m not sure how identifying without the identify tool would be because I don’t really do that much.

In general, I find it a pretty friendly site for mobile devices, but some stuff takes time to learn and adjust to since it’s not made for phones as much as it is made for computers.

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Make use of zooming. When you’re identifying, always zoom in when you’re going to press a button! That’s my tip :)


I am trying both ways now. I like being able to page through the observations with the arrows but it does have its drawbacks- seems harder to zoom in on the photo (unless I am missing an easy way to do so) and I do miss the identification suggestions (I’m terrible at spelling some of these names).
I think I prefer opening up a new window and it works reasonably well but sometimes when I zoom in on a photo I wind up getting “stuck” in it and I can’t get to the X to close it out again. I have a hard time moving a zoomed-in picture to the area I want to see, also. I’m thinking I will probably be identifying very obvious cases where I don’t need to see so much detail through my phone. And I just can’t expect to process IDs with the speed I once had… very sad.

Yes - I’m pretty sure half my problems are a result of “fat fingers!” I also need to figure out how to reopen a tab I accidentally closed. They say it’s easy…

I personally find projects through the app the best way to ID on the phone. Find a nice broad project in your area of expertise (ex: I often go through Butterflies of Indiana on my phone). Really depends on what organisms you ID though.


I also do some IDing using the webpage on my iPhone with Safari. Not as good as having a large screen and my fat fingers mean I have to be more careful, but it works.

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I much prefer using the Identify feature on desktop, but like you I cannot resist filling my spare moments with some ID time. Here are some things I do to make it a little easier. I am an Android app user, some things may differ between our operating systems.

  • The app crashes for me a lot while identifying (or needs a restart as it will not let me search and add a new ID). I try to keep an eye on the date and restrict the date search to where I remember I left off so I can save myself scrolling past observations I already IDed.

  • The app does not yet have the ability to filter out reviewed observations. The best way to chronologically stay on track is to use search filters to sort observations by Date Observed and try to search within date ranges such as within one month. To avoid seeing reviewed observations if the app crashes mid-session, you can switch between the Date Observed being Ascending or Descending. I usually go through as far as I can either way and if it crashes and I cannot remember the range of observations I have yet to review, I jump to the next month. You may miss some observations in the middle but you can get back to them on desktop Identify.

  • The app will slow down the more you ID as it is caching all the photos you have seen before. To fix this, go into your app settings on your phone and clear the cache regularly.

I hope these help.


I personally prefer an entirely separate page, too. Zooming is difficult in general for me on Safari, but my preference is to zoom the entire page onto the image, rather than clicking on the actual image itself, because that makes navigating the screen pretty difficult. So much of this is just what I am used to always doing so I’m forgetting to mention keypoints!

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I cannot use the “Identify” tab at all on my phone. The split screen effect, with half for the picture and half for the map and identifications, means that I get a picture cropped tall and narrow, impossible to see what it is. Maybe I could try it with my phone turned sideways, using the auto-rotate, but I really prefer a large screen to see the picture clearly.

I have done a fair amount of identifying on the website via my iPhone. I can’t stand logging into a laptop after work. I have more recently gotten an iPad that is the perfect balance for me. I still ID on my phone though, because I always have it.

I use chrome on my iPhone (and iPad). I have a journal page that has my frequent ID links as well as scripted comments (I mostly ID unknowns). I open an identification link (eg My Area Unknowns) in a new tab, keeping my journal tab open. Each observation I look at opens in a new tab. I can easily zoom on the photos and navigate between them easily. I rarely intentionally click on the photo to get the large pop up because it is unwieldy.

I copy a comment script (usually standard unknowns), suggest an ID, close the tab and go back to identify to get a new observation. I try to stick with the standard unknowns script for a while because copying text accurately is a bit of a pain on the phone. When a number of captive/cultivated, multi-species pile up, I switch scripts and ID those.

If I’m not IDing unknowns, the process is similar, but without scripts, so I pick things where I don’t think a comment will make a difference or spend more time typing out comments. Editing text is the most painful part of IDing on a phone for me.


This actually touches on an issue for me. I will ID from my ipad at home and soemtimes it opens a new tab, but sometimes it opens a pop-up window instead which takes a long time to load and I often have to refresh the page.

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I only use desktop version to ID observations. Probably the only reason why I will use the app is to quick upload photos from my phone camera roll.

Echoing @iisipscomment above

I was strictly an android app user for identifying until recently, when I tried @arboretum_amy’s link for IDing Gambelia which is strictly browser based.

The verdict?

  • Desktop web interface with Keyboard Shortcuts is 3-6x faster for ID than the app.
  • Desktop web interface doesn’t slow down or become unstable after 40-50 IDs, where app would require restarting and reapplying a limited set of filters.
  • Desktop web interface lets you combine places, for example adding &place_id=917,962,2738 lets me ID three counties at once.

So what do I use the app for now?

  • Still faster for observations since I can photograph, crop, arrange, and upload through one tool.
  • Good for following activity: people identifying, commenting, or tagging observations.
  • Good for commenting on observations.
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