Must-have Florida outdoors apps for iOS, Android devices
Now that you got that new iPad, iPhone or Android tablet or smartphone for Christmas, what do you do with it?
You load it up with apps, of course, and we’ve got a few to recommend to help you better explore Florida’s outdoors:
FLStateParks — A well-organized and comprehensive resource on Florida’s State Parks by hiking guru Sandra Friend, who has written several Florida hiking guides and publishes the web site Florida Hikes! As you might expect, much of the content in this interactive app is geared toward hikers, but she also does considerable justice to other state park activities, especially paddling. The app includes essential information on each park, including photos, maps, phone numbers and links to related subjects, including tours and nearby outfitters. Although arranged alphabetically, there is a state map that plots each park, and each entry measures the distance between your current location and each park.
Available for Apple and Android devices — $2.99; Sutro Media
Florida State Parks and Beaches — This interactive guide by Pocket Ranger is a location-based app that uses GPS coordinates to find parks, beaches and outdoor activities near you. You can also select an activity and retrieve a list of state parks that feature that activity, whether you are looking for beaches, bicycle trails, boating, camping, fishing, hiking and more. You can also retrieve a list of state parks by region from an interactive map. While not as comprehensive as Sandra Friend’s FLStateParks (above), this app is free! Another nice feature is the real-time download of state park news and events.
Available for Apple and Android devices — FREE; ParksByNature Network
FLBeaches – This is more or less a spin-off of FLStateParks, also from Sandra Friend, that focuses on the state’s more popular beaches, including many you’ve never heard about. The easy-to-navigate design, content and organization is very much like FLStateParks, so you’re on familiar territory as far as the app is concerned. Sandra built this app as her response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The descriptions are brief and to the point, and she pays attention to things like which beaches are dog-friendly. Tags on each entry will take you to other dog-friendly beaches. Locator maps are very helpful, especially for hidden beaches.
Available for Apple and Android devices — $1.99 (Sutro Media).
Audubon Nature Florida. Discover the diversity of Florida’s wildlife with the ultimate guide from Audubon. Identify everything from birds and fish to spiders and sea creatures, shells and wildflowers, even butterflies, with more than 4,000 professional photographs. This app has in-depth descriptions for over 1,900 species of birds, butterflies, fish, insects and spiders, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, seashells, seashore creatures, trees, and wildflowers. What’s more you can hear the birds sing! Over 1,100 bird songs and calls. Range maps show migration paths and rookeries.
Available for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch only — $4.99 (Green Mountain Digital)
Launch Points. The good folks at Austin Canoe and Kayak have adapted their 14,000-strong national kayak and canoe launch database for mobile devices, and the app allows users to submit new launches, rate those that are already there, and share your kayak launch secrets with others. You also have access to blogs, videos, “how-to” articles and paddling news. Of course, you can also shop at ACK with this app, which is the whole idea. You can upgrade to the ad-free “Pro” version for 99 cents.
Available for Apple and Android devices — Free; 99 cents for Pro version (Phunware)
Gas Buddy. This app is free, and it belongs on every mobile device, no matter your interests. Gas Buddy will save you money, and not just nickels and dimes. Gas Buddy identifies your location and then delivers the price of gas at every gas station within a pre-set distance, sorted by distance from your location or by price. The prices are updated frequently by the mob — you and other users — and I have found it to be amazingly accurate. Enter a Zip Code or city you expect to pass on your journey, and it will give you a heads up on where to buy gas when you get there (includes maps). Did I say it was indispensable?
Available for Apple, Android and Blackberry devices – Free (Gas Buddy Organization Inc.)
Best “Almost An App”
FloridaRambler.com. Florida Rambler’s responsive web design adjusts to the size of your mobile device, whether it’s a 10-inch, 7-inch or small-screen smartphone. The content focuses on Florida outdoor recreation, and it’s organized by region as well as activity, whether you are bicycling, hiking, visiting a state park, birding or beaching, Florida Rambler is updated frequently with great ideas for exploring the authentic Florida. The freshest articles with stunning photographing pop up on your screen first, and then you can explore our rich depth of articles, outdoor guides and ideas. Among our most popular articles is the Florida Keys Mile-Marker Guide, which takes you down the Overseas Highway and identifies kayak launch points, camping, state parks, restaurants, bars, beaches and more. And yes, we are partial to our own product. Best of all, it’s free!
Available in real time via any browser; no need to download an app! Just bookmark it with your favorites. — Free (Florida Rambler Media Inc.)