Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Fourteen Thousand Plants in your Pocket

For those that haven't seen it, this is my current article in the Gardener News:
When I got my iphone® three years ago, it transformed the way that I do business. I don’t have to travel with a heavy computer anymore. I have easy internet access at my fingertips. I can update my blog from my phone. I can see what my friends have posted on Facebook. It’s like having a little computer in the palm of your hands. One of the best features of the phone is that third party vendors can create applications or apps that run on the phone.

There are thousands of apps now available for the iphone®, but until recently there has been very few garden applications. In early December 10-20 media released a fantastic iphone® application called the Garden Pilot™. Garden Pilot™ is a handheld garden guide to plants, vegetables, trees and shrubs. Its like having an entire gardening encyclopedia in your phone. It has over 14,000 plants in its library. These pictures are not stored in the phone but are accessed from the database that 10-20 media has spent years compiling. (an internet connection is required) There are a several powerful search capabilities. Touch the seach icon on the bottom of the screen and you can search by a botanic name or common name. Results are instantly brought up in list form. Touch one of the choices and a full color picture fills the screen. Want more info? There is a little picture of a plant tag on the top right of the screen. Touch the tag, and the picture flips over revealing information such as growing height, bloom season, uses and zone hardiness.

You can also search by the browse button. Tap browse, and you can search 14 plant categories including annuals, perennials, roses and aquatics. Hidden in this feature is a feature where you can then filter the items. Tap the button on the top right (says 1 of x) to open the filter screen. Then you can filter by options such as color, light requirement, water requirement, etc. You can even filter plants that were just released in 2010, or 2009. A perfect way to start planning your garden.

If you were traveling and wanted to actually buy a searched plant, you could touch the find it button on the top corner, and the iphone’s® GPS finds stores that are local to you. Tap the phone number and you can ask if it is in stock. Tap the map button and get directions to the store.
Another cool feature available on GardenPilot™ version 1.0 is the Joe section. It’s great when you’re sitting at Starbucks sipping a coffee and want to read up on one of Joes gardening tips. Joe Lamp'l is currently the host of GardenSMART on PBS. Joe has provided GardenPilot™ with timely articles to make you a better gardener. Joe is a frequent guest expert on shows such as The Today Show, Good Morning America and The Victory Garden. There are currently articles in twelve different categories. Categories include eco-friendly ideas, to flower gardening, to insects and pests including deer, to roses, to vegetable gardening.
There are a few minor things that I don’t like about the program, but this is only version 1.0. I would have had the search enabled where you didn’t have to type in the complete name, just a few characters. This option is available but hidden under filters. This would help spelling impaired people like myself have more success. It would also be nice if you could filter by more than one color at a time. I would also like to see support added where you could zoom into a picture like you can with other iphone pictures. I also noticed that sometimes images render on the screen with the wrong aspect ratio making them look a bit stretched out. Again a minor problem.

Iphone® application prices are always subject to change, but when I wrote this article the cost of the application was only $2.99. That’s less money than a single garden magazine. You’ll notice that your thumb will get greener with every use. Go direct to the apple store by clicking the link below.
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