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Identifying Plants, Flowers and Birds Without an App

It all started when I was landscaping last spring and took a photo of a bush to identify.

I have fat thumbs. That’s not anything I’d normally want to share; but because my hefty digits accidentally showed me capabilities I didn’t realize my phone had while scrolling, it became clear to me that there may be a few others who need to be in the know. Especially those of us in the age group where doing things digitally doesn’t come as naturally as it might to the younger generations — or those of us not interested in buying apps. 

It all started when I was landscaping last spring and took a photo of a bush to send to my mother, a master gardener, to identify. My thumb grazed up the image on my phone and up popped an option to “look up — plant.” I tapped the button and, lo and behold, the answer was found through Siri with applicable links for more information. I was able to use that to identify several of the plants around my new-to- me home, which helped me to more easily prune and care for them. 

More recently, I put some clear bird feeders in my second-story windows to enjoy birds. “What is that?” I said out loud to my non-birding self, having not been this close to such a cute little guy like this before. I snapped a photo, swiped up on my iPhone, and pressed the “look up — bird” option to find my little friend was a black-capped chickadee. 

It is simple, free and fun to start getting answers like this without an app or a wordy Google search. You can also choose to hit the information icon that pops up on the bottom of your screen instead of swiping up. 

Android users can use a similar feature on their phones by snapping a picture, viewing it and tapping the “lens” feature. 

The function can also work on other wildlife as well as works of art, landmarks and more through the camera feature. Of course, you’ll need a more recent phone to have these capabilities, and the search availability can change based on your region. 

Sure, there’s an app for just about anything these days. But it’s just nice to know you don’t need an app for everything. 


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