Field guide app out now

by Blair
Publish date
10 March 2011
Comments (79)

There are no angry birds in Field Guide to Victorian Fauna, the museum’s new free app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Instead, crazy-coloured snakes, critically endangered species, state faunal emblems, stinging jellies and a Baggy Pants Frog are among the animals included in the first release.

Museum Victoria’s Field Guide to Victorian Fauna A screenshot from MV's Field Guide to Victorian Fauna.
Source: Museum Victoria

The app lets you explore useful and interesting information about each species including: identification, biology, distribution, diet, habitat, scientific classification and endangered status. Wherever you are – a forest, a desert, a rocky shore, at Ararat or Apollo Bay – you’ll be able to find information on more than 700 animals at the swipe of your finger.

And, in a first for the museum, the code for the app is being released as open source. This means that museums and organisations worldwide can take their own data and build their own local field guide, too.

Developer Simon Sherrin and designer Simon O’Shea have built the app based on the Biodiversity Snapshots field guide, which was created for schools by museum sciences staff. In doing so, they’ve made this excellent resource available to anyone with an iDevice, not just school students. And this is just the beginning. We’re preparing more animals every day so that the app will span more of Victoria’s rich biodiversity.

Simon & Simon with the Field Guide app Simon and Simon. These guys are developers, so we can't show their faces on the web.
Image: Nicole Alley
Source: Museum Victoria

Field Guide to Victorian Fauna can be downloaded free from the iTunes App Store. Simon Sherrin will also present the app at several conferences and meetings in the USA in coming weeks. It’s the second in the museum’s developing portfolio of apps which began in 2010 with Please touch the exhibit.

Is your favorite Victorian animal included in the app? If not, let us know what it is in the comments, and why it should be included in a future update of the field guide.

UPDATE: The Android version is now available from Google Play. Hooray!


Field Guide to Victorian Fauna support page

Comments (79)

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John Pearce 10 March, 2011 18:53
Hey folks this is a fabulous app, great work and thanks for all the hard work in getting it together. Hopefully there will be regular updates and a flora and grasses and other similar apps to follow, (once you set the bar so high, the expectations grow correspondingly :).
Bronwyn 11 March, 2011 15:18
This field Ap is amazing - so easy to navigate. Well done MV!
Jo 11 March, 2011 17:02
Awesome job! What a relief that Simon and Simon didn't choose the image of the Baggy Pants Frog for their glamour shot! My 6 year old is downloading the app now (as 6 year olds know how to do these sorts of things)!
Alex Thomas 11 March, 2011 21:59
Terrific. Frog/bird call audio would be really great. Ability to feed observations (with geocoded photo evidence) back to MV (like the WildObs app), and a heuristic key to get to species identity (like Hyland & Whiffin's Aust Tropical Rain Forest Plants key) would be totally awesome.
Elizabeth Taylor 13 March, 2011 17:02
As a non-scientist, I find the app is interesting and informative. Magnificent photographs in all categories!!! Well done all involved at MV.
Britt Gow 14 March, 2011 10:16
WOW - I have been looking for such a guide for a long time - fantastic photos, information and so easy to navigate. You have done a magnificent job. I will be sharing with all my students and fellow teachers in Victoria.
Yvonne Osborn 14 March, 2011 13:38
This is an amazing app.Found out about it via Twitter. Downloaded and explored it today and will be using it in Art Classes with students tomorrow. Congratulations to all concerned with the production.A wonderful resource. I'll be spreading the word.
Peter Neish 14 March, 2011 19:56
Great work everyone. I downloaded this and had a great time exploring all the beasties. The coverage of marine invertebrates was particularly impressive, as was all the frog and bird calls (although I would have liked to have more audio - eg. owls which you often hear rather than see - I'm sure they're in the pipeline). Did have one issue where the app froze for a bit on one of the images, but it sorted itself out after a minute or two. Oh, and one other suggestion would be to have scale bars on the images for insects - I had to go the descriptions to get the dimensions which was a bit fiddly when trying to work out what a bug was. Overall, a really top job and I can't wait for more animals to be added to the app. And brilliant that you are open sourcing the app code - should be more of that!
Zey2 21 March, 2011 21:14
Great app. I've always wanted audio for bird calls in particular when in the field. Victoria is leading the way! (Just trying to guilt other states into following your lead). Well done!
Tim Bawden 22 March, 2011 15:48
What a great app, very well done. Can't argue with the price either :-)
Edward Henry 7 April, 2011 23:04
Fantastic app! I recently went to UK to see my sister and she had a paper field guide similar in concept to this but this just blows everything else away. Having real photos is fantastic when trying to identify various birds, insects etc is brilliant. Also love the audio for the birds as it is so hard to try and distinguish a call from a written description. Coming from UK myself and not growing up here with instilled knowledge it is wonderful to be able to put names to flora and fauna. I would love it if trees and flowers could also be added. For future development it would be great to have field notes that one could add as to where and when various species had been seen or heard. Great job! This app has to be one of the best in the world and to be able to carry this guide around in one's pocket as part of the phone is awesome. On the iPad it is especially brilliant. Keep up the great work!
Rick Hammond 13 April, 2011 13:30
Top work Simon 2.0! We're looking to trial it with students in the Coranderrk bushland up at Healesville Sanctuary.
Diana Droog 30 April, 2011 14:37
This is the best thing since sliced bread. It is amazing - The sound recordings are fascinating. Great job MV!!! It would be fantastic if this can be expanded Nationally.
Britt Gregory 3 May, 2011 11:52
Is the app likely to become available to the android market also??
Simon Sherrin 4 May, 2011 16:53

Hi Britt,

Currently, we don't have plans to release an Android version of the Field Guide as we do not have the in-house resources to do so. We will be releasing the source code for the Field Guide builder by the end of June. Our hope is that another organisation with Android development skills will create an Android version of the builder. If that occurs, we will definitely consider publishing the Field Guide to Victorian Animals as an Android app.

nigel 26 September, 2012 15:46
hi ffolks any news re. an Android version of this app? I'm hangin' out!
Pete Spring 19 May, 2011 19:11
What a great App! One problem though. On my iPhone I get the bird sound, but on my iPad, no sound when I touch on the button. Any clues?
Tim Anderson 22 May, 2011 10:53
Great App agree with above coments that a flora guide would be great. Mostly I want to appeal for the field guide's to be made avaiable for Android and Windows phones as well. There are many of us who have abandoned Apple's monopolist philosophy and market minupulation
Leigh 22 May, 2011 17:01
Hi thanks for the great app! It is fabulous but just one thing. You do not have any seahorses listed only the weedy seadragon. When you do an update could you please include them in it? Thanks again for an unbelievably great app :)
Gregg Muller 23 May, 2011 17:24
Had a quick look on an i-colleague's device, and it seems very handy. A real pity this isn't available on non-apple platform, otherwise would use it with my students - I can't in conscience use or recommend a resource that would disadvantage students who don't own or can't afford an i-device.
Greg 25 May, 2011 14:59
Great app, my kids love it (although the White Italian Snail isn't native).
Peter 25 May, 2011 18:41
Hi - I agree with all the above - it is a great app. A few interesting omissions that occur to me - the Red Tailed Cockatoo, Great White Shark, Giant Gippsland Worm. These seem to me to be iconic Vic fauna - any reason they are not included?
Blair 30 May, 2011 15:38
we are now close to the first update for the app which will include additional species like the ones mentioned above so keep an eye out or keep the comments coming about what you’d like to see in the app
glenn henke 30 May, 2011 16:20
Can you new app be downloaded onto a macbookpro computer. If so could you assist me.
Kate C 31 May, 2011 10:08
Hi Glenn. The field guide is only available as an app for iPhone and iPad. If you wish to run it on a computer, the closest thing is the Biodiversity Snapshots field guide but this requires you to be online to use it.
Judit 27 June, 2011 09:55
Is there a way to support this project?
Monique 29 June, 2011 21:29
I have just bought an ipad and am enjoying your app immensely but i too cannot hear any sounds at all. Other apps work with sound. Do I need to have an apple sound program loaded on the ipad ? Any help greatly appreciated.
Kevin 5 November, 2013 10:01
I have the same problem. Used to get sound but no more. Have downloaded three times with no success. Downloaded beside another iPad - it worked OK. Is there an issue with my iPad?
Graeme Butler 2 September, 2011 08:27
This sounds like a great app but when will government agencies realise that Android OS phones outnumber iphones and are typically cheaper- developing apps for Apple only is not responsible government.
willeford 6 September, 2011 18:07
like the app i might by it.
Ruth 14 October, 2011 14:45
This is fast becoming one of my favourite new apps. I'm showing it off to everybody! It's a great resource for finding out more about the animals living around me in Melbourne. Can't wait to use it next time I'm in the country, too!
Lyn 26 October, 2011 00:03
I too would love to use this with my students if it was available as an android app.
Discovery Centre 26 October, 2011 14:28

We have had many enquiries about whether we will be releasing the Field Guide to Victoria Fauna as an Android app. The Field Guide was developed fully in house at Museum Victoria. Our developer used the project as an opportunity for professional development, to extend and develop skills in writing code for a native app. We chose to write for iOS devices as we had to make a decision one way or another. We are very aware that there is interest in the community to have the app also available as an Android app but, currently simply don’t have the developer resources in house to make it happen.

We have since released the code for the app as Open Source, in the hope that someone in the developer community will port the code over to Android. No one has taken up the challenge so far.

For the documentation for the Open Source code and the blog that goes with it click here.

Dirk 30 November, 2011 19:36
I really like your field guide app and am using it in South Australia. There is plenty of scope for developing this sort of tool nationwide or other regions. It would be rather nice to see a similar app for plants in Australia. Thanks for making the code open source. The link didn't work since it does not contain the domain, the following link does work
Discovery Centre 3 December, 2011 10:51

Hello Dirk,

Thanks for letting us know about the broken link – it should work correctly now.

Catherine Kraina 19 December, 2011 14:02
Brilliant. Helped me identify the masked lapwing, which has been taunting me with its call every evening. Well done. Bring on the flora app.
Margot Craddock 19 January, 2012 11:34
A well set out and a great refferal tool. There a few honeyeaters not included, eg State bird emblem and missing some robins.
Neil 19 January, 2012 20:15
I think it is a disgrace that taxpayer's money is being spent to develop something only for certain people in the community (iPhone owners). The argument that you do not have the funds and the developer used the project for "personal development" is very weak. If you can allow your developer to spend time developing this for iPhones then you should allow her/him to get the experience on Android as well, which is, as stated earlier the more common platform. You developed the app almost a year ago so you have had plenty of time to turn it into an Android app. It seems the ABC are also only developing for Apple.
Nick 2 February, 2012 18:24
This app is amazing! I really think it needs to be promoted a little as I only discovered this by coincidence, but very very happy that I have found it. A suggestion for the future would be to allow it to become an open source platform in which a wikipedia like community can form i.e. people can upload photos of fauna and flora, input information, report sightings, and build the database up and up! This is by far the best app I have seen in a long time! Congratulations.
George Radion 11 February, 2012 23:46
Nice app - I have seen it on an ipad. Will it be ported to Android? as I wish to use it. George
Discovery Centre 12 February, 2012 10:26
Hi George, We don't have plans to release an Android version of the Field Guide as we do not have the in-house resources to do so. We have released the code for the app as Open Source. We hope another organisation with Android development skills will create an Android version of the builder. If that occurs, we will definitely consider publishing the Field Guide as an Android app. For the documentation for the Open Source code and the blog that goes with it click here.
Andolasoft 29 February, 2012 22:34
Nice to read this post.
Suzanne Coghill 13 April, 2012 00:19
Absolutely wonderful. Fascinated a young son of a friend in the US.
Leah 13 April, 2012 11:55
Will you be releasing a plant guide at all?
Discovery Centre 14 April, 2012 15:09
Hi there Leah, the museum doesn't research or collect in the area of botany, but what a great idea for an app!
Bobble 24 April, 2012 08:28
Hi there, am enjoying the app. On May 30, 2011 you said an update was close. Has that happened yet? To those who think the lack of an Android app is unfair, let's be thankful that there is any app at all. MV weren't required by law to make an app, but they did anyway and didn't even charge for it.
Robyn 12 June, 2012 13:56
I love this app. Its easy to use, has beautiful photos and great information. My kids love exploring the animals! But PLEASE can you make an app for android?
Shane 13 June, 2012 15:28
Please someone get on board and help make the android version a reality. We already love the i-version, but.....please help us android users!!
Discovery Centre 13 June, 2012 15:29

Hi everyone,
Great news! Museum Victoria will be expanding the Field Guide app, making it available on more devices. It will also provide State and Territory specific versions, and all for free thanks to the Unlocking Australia's Potential grant program. More information will be provided on the MV website in the near future, so watch this space...! 


Shane 13 June, 2012 20:17
Great App like to see some sort of Shazam app function that allow recording then match to bird sound database to identify bird sounds.
Anne Edwards 14 June, 2012 09:28
No change then for android users.
Discovery Centre 18 June, 2012 16:56
Hi Bobble, thanks for your comments. The Field Guide app was originally released only for i-devices (iPhones, iPod touch and iPads) as this was what we could manage with the funds and in-house developer skills. We have received a number of enquiries about getting the Field Guide released for Android devices. We’re pleased to announce that we have received a grant from the Federal Government under the Inspiring Australia program that will allow us to create a version of the Field Guide for Android devices. We anticipate releasing this later in 2012.


As well as creating the Android version, the new grant will allow us to address another common feedback comment – “can you do one for Queensland?” or “I live in NSW, is there an app coming for us?” Using the Inspiring Australia grant, we will work in collaboration with six other Museums around the country to create a series of apps for animals right around Australia. These apps will have a similar format and presentation to the existing app, will also be free, and will be released for both i-devices and for Android devices. The new apps are due to be created over the next year and we plan to have them all delivered by December 2013.

Dan 2 July, 2012 16:17
Hi, I am going to show my ignorance here, but I have downloaded this app and installed it successfully on my iPhone. But how do I access it? No shortcut has been created despite the app listed in the 'App Store'. Any suggestions?
Discovery Centre 7 July, 2012 16:40

Hi Dan

We've checked with our app experts, and we think instead of downloading the app 'proper' (from the iTunes app store), you may have downloaded the source code - this won't show up as an icon on your phone or iPad, as this is the 'back end' programming, which we've made available here for other programmers to use how they wish. To dowload the operable app, go to the iTunes app store.

Hope this helps!

zelpha 24 August, 2012 17:03
How come its not out on android? I saw it on my friends iPhone and there is nothing about Australian fauna in android so can u make it for android
Discovery Centre 25 August, 2012 12:11

Hi Zelpha,

Please see the answer two comments up to Bobble on the 18th of June. I hope that helps!

Kate 16 September, 2012 16:54
Wonderful app - I've downloaded it onto all of the school's ipads and its used across the school prep to 12. Please, please, people who funded this wonderful project - put the money into one on plants too.
Katie 21 September, 2012 22:19
It's such fantastic news that you're producing an Android version! I first discovered it at work during an iPad training session, and it's honestly the app I'm most excited about getting on my shiny new phone. I check at least every couple of weeks to see if it's been released (no pressure!) - happy coding :-D
Bryan Corkran 26 September, 2012 21:21
Great App I notice that there is no audio call for the Buff Banded Rail,I have one living on our block do you want a wave file of its call ?
Discovery Centre 30 September, 2012 10:42
Hi Bryan, thank you for your offer, just to let you know the web developer is in the US at present so there will be a bit of a delay until he can reply.
Discovery Centre 6 October, 2012 13:20

Hi Bryan,

We’re happy to receive these items from the public but we cannot guarantee the given media will be used in the products.

Gregg Muller 8 October, 2012 16:02
Great news about the non apple versions. Keep up the good work. As a keen user of field guides, would really love to see the ability to add user notes, pictures and maps - this is the major shortcoming of the birding app I use.
Dale 16 October, 2012 19:00
Love the app. just cant make the sound work. Any ideas?
Tony 18 October, 2012 20:06
Howdy Museum Vic. The kids love the app - any idea how the android development is coming along? Many thanks, Tony
Katie 14 December, 2012 12:07
All I want for Christmas is an update on the Android field guide :-)
Discovery Centre 19 December, 2012 16:52

Hi Katie, It’s coming! The MV Field Guide app will be launched on Google Play for Android devices in early 2013. We’re also working on 6 new field guide apps, one for each state/territory in Australia. And we’ll be delivering several significant updates to the existing MV Field Guide over the next 12 months – new species, improved design and some cool new functions. Stay tuned... (and a very Merry Christmas to you!).

PM 14 December, 2012 17:43
Would like to see an Android app, and would be nice to include weeds and native flora for identification
sare 5 January, 2013 07:57
I work at a child care center in Melbourne and we love this app. The kids were interested in birds but the bird poster just wasn't cutting it. We downloaded this app and the kids love the interactive side of it with the great photos and the bird noises. Well done MV!!!
Jun 15 February, 2013 11:49
Thank you for creating these great apps! Is there any plan to publish the android version of this app too? It would be great if yes.
Brian 2 March, 2013 16:46
When will the android version of app be available?
Discovery Centre 4 March, 2013 15:24

Hi Brian, sadly, we still don’t have an official date for the Android version. But, we can tell you that it is being worked on and finalised at the moment so shouldn’t be too far away!

Rick 13 March, 2013 22:15
Any new updates coming with some more species?
Discovery Centre 15 March, 2013 13:49
Hi Rick - our scientists and developers will update and add species over time. Have a look at the Field Guide page here.
Giovanni 30 May, 2013 20:37
Very cool App! When will be available the source code of the Android version? Thanks.
Nicole Kearney 13 June, 2013 12:20
We are pleased to announce that the MV Field Guide to Victorian Fauna app is now available in the Google Play store (for Android devices). We have also recently released an upgrade of the Apple app (available now in the iTunes store). The app now contains over 730 species and has 86 new animal calls. You can read more about the new releases of the MV Field Guide app here.
Cameron 27 July, 2013 10:17
Now that an Android version is available, is there plans to port it to windows phone. This should be fairly simple to port. I hope it is planned.
Nicole Kearney 25 August, 2013 11:40
Hi Cameron, I'm afraid there are no plans to create a Windows version of the MV Field Guide to Victorian Fauna app. However, we are in the process of developing Field Guide apps for every other state and territory in Australia (for both iOS and Android devices).
Jeanette O'Shea 12 November, 2014 14:33
Any plans to add audio of vocalizations to this app? Would be a great feature.
Discovery Centre 14 November, 2014 11:33

Hi Jeanette - the app does contain many audio files of vocalisations of birds, frogs and some mammals, just tap the icon shaped like a speech bubble with a musical note in it to select any associated audio file

Hope this helps

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