iPhone app: how much do you rely on it?

I have the iNat app on my iPhone but have not used it much over last year or so. I find the functionality is just not that great, but it is useful (necessary, actually) for uploading photos taken on my phone to the website when I submit records. But beyond that, I use the main iNat website on my phone (or computer) to do almost everything else, including checking notifications and IDing records or leaving comments for others. Am I missing something about the app’s functionality or is that how others mainly use it?


Strictly the iPhone app, or would you be interested in Android app experience too?

I don’t use the Android app but have heard it’s better for various iNat functions.


Ditto. I use it to submit observations because that’s more convenient than pushing my photos to my PC and then uploading, but I use the website for literally everything else because of how limited the app’s functionality is.

I find it especially frustrating that the iPhone app doesn’t even have a place to see private messages. Now I know to add a comment saying “PM sent” on an observation when I’m trying to chat with someone (following up on a record for a research paper), but I didn’t originally realize that and wondered why some users never responded, and leaving those breadcrumbs adds needless clutter anyway. I don’t think this forum is there, either.

The search filters that allow more interesting data diving are almost entirely missing, and sometimes I’ve asked identifiers why they didn’t explicitly disagree on a higher-level ID when their text indicated that they meant to (i.e., it’s genus X but not species Aus) and whaddaya know, it’s because the iPhone app doesn’t have that functionality.

When I introduce iNat to people, I tell them to stay far away from the app and only interact with it as a website.


I basically use it the same way. I will upload the pictures taken on my phone through the app (which can take a while). When making observations I use the system default Camera app and not even the iNat app camera since you have to to through a couple steps between pictures, in which time whatever I’m observing (usually unless it’s a plant) tries to escape so I can’t get any more pictures.

Notifications on iOS app only show updates for your own observations, so to see the notifications for things the app doesn’t show, like updates on observations you are following, project updates, and new observations from people, places, etc you are following, you have to open up the website to view those notifications.

Most of the functionality that is available in the iOS app is available in a much more developed form on the website, when it’s available in the app at all, since there is a lot of functionality that isn’t even present in the app.


I started out as a (completely clueless noob) app user and very quickly became a website user. I only use the phone app when I’m traveling and just can’t wait to upload some cool thing I saw, and then I have the challenge of sorting out my phone vs. “real camera” observations when I come home.

I know of some sad instances where I’ve tried to hook science-loving friends on iNat and they have lost interest and given up quickly because they only used the app, and may have only used it in a location where upload speed was so slow that the app didn’t function well. Unfortunately, a lot of people just don’t have much patience with a new app that doesn’t work perfectly the first time.

When we take photos with our phone, we usually upload them to inat via the iPhone app. We also check on id’s via the activity tab on the app. We use the app daily.

We use the web site via computer when we are uploading camera photos. We don’t prefer uploading observations via the web site on a computer because for some reason when we copy our photos over to the upload page, they always show up out of order and we have to play match-them. (They are from a camera that doesn’t allow us to set the date/time or geotag, if that influences the order for some reason.)

We use the web site on computer for identifying and for checking notifications; namely, regarding id’s we’ve made. Also for duplicating observations (such as when the observation has multiple species).

We don’t use the web site every day but several days per week

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I almost never use the iPhone app to submit observations, but I use it ALL THE TIME to preview what’s on a particular trail, where I last saw a particular plant, the location of something someone posted that I’d like to visit, the types of sedges to be found in a particular marsh, etc. These are all in the “explore” tab of the mobile app. if you are missing out on “explore” with the mobile app you are missing the best part!


I use the iOS app to upload obs from my iPhone camera, i also use it to make a sound observation directly in the app, since you cannot use the app to upload a sound file.

It is frustrating that so many key functionalities and most of the niceties are missing.

Otherwise I used the website via iPad or iPhone (also problematic).


The Explore function is pretty neat. I should use it more.

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Yes, I don’t recall the sound recording feature when I first got the app unless I missed it, but sound files were often a problem for me and that feature is a good one. Assuming I remember to use it instead of the recorder feature on my phone.


Android app has private messages, and it might possibly show a wider variety of notifications than the iPhone app (I cant say for sure having only ever used Android.) I actually prefer Android over the website for reviewing notifications for a few reasons
–they don’t disappear after you’ve opened the menu
–they change color when read
–they’re sorted in to 3 tabs: your own observations, other people’s observations, and journal posts of projects you follow/the iNat blog

I recall reading a post by someone on iNat staff in late 2021 that said that the app would become the same across both operating systems (modeled on the Android version) this year.

Not sure if I am misremembering but the android version sounds great so I hope not.


I almost never use it. Even if I take photos with my phone, I’ll typically send those to my laptop first and go from there.

I use to submit photos taken with my phone (so many bugs at rest stops…) and sometimes the explore options handy but other than that I’m not hugely found of it. Seems very limited compared to the desktop interface

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definitely!! the explore feature on the app is so good i use it all the time


I upload on the app and sometimes will ID a little bit while observations are uploading. That’s really it. It’s not very helpful for anything else. I guess I do check out what areas look like on there but that’s just if I am on the app already. If I’m on the website and want to look at what an area looks like, I just do it on there.

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Can we change this to be inclusive for Android users?

I use the Android app quite a bit. I like to check my notifications on my phone, mainly because I can pick and choose which to look at and which to save for later. I upload photo-less observations there when I want to have precise location data, but otherwise I don’t do much else on it.

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I have a tad over 600 observations uploaded atm and all of them have been through the iPhone app. I also usually identify using the app because I’m not sure how to see the CV suggestions on the website; I don’t typically rely on it for ID but it can be very helpful confirming or pointing in the right direction

I do get jealous reading about all the features I never even knew Android users have been enjoying. Thankfully I think there is a big update coming to the iPhone app soon, from what I’ve heard

Two ways, at least.

  1. In an individual observation or the Identify portal, click ‘Compare’ and change ‘Source’ in the top to “Visually Similar”
  2. In an individual observation, click the species box and wait for a list to load.
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