Observed

“The world’s first intelligent plant care app” made a splash a few weeks ago by getting another round of seed funding, so we checked it out. The basic premise: it helps you care for your houseplants, especially the watering schedule. Greg’s AI evaluates your plants regularly and adjusts recommendations to make sure it stays healthy and growing.

The much-anticipated NPS app looks great, is easy to use, and solves a longstanding issue for national park visitors: the piecemeal nature of planning a park visit. Now lodging reservations, restaurant info, and offline trail maps are all including in the mobile experience, as well as total access to audio tours at individual parks (and hives of villainy).

Riding the e-commerce alcohol boom, this nifty app lets you scan a wine label and check the reviews and price. The label scan feature has improved year over year and comes in far handier than you think, especially when you want to mix it up and try new things (but don’t want to buy a dud).

Whoop started life as a performance tracker for elite athletes, but it now is available for everybody. The app/wearable is offered via a membership subscription model, and the amount of “actionable” data it collects is tremendous. It monitors your sleep, stress levels, nutrition, and a lot more, then offers wellness and workout recommendations.

As restrictions lift, we all want escape. Be it, say, to the Salt House Inn in Provincetown, Massachusetts, or the Hutton Brickyards of Kingston, New York. Someday, perhaps to the Zahir Country House in Noto, Italy. Tablet is a portal for boutique hotels that’s a very nice go-to for date-planning, gift-giving, and fantasy vacation scheming.

Shopify’s handy “shopping assistant” is a payment app, but its real party trick is scanning your email and/or Amazon account and showing all package shipping info and statuses for your orders. Having all that “traffic” data in one place is nice, plus you can opt in to get notifications when packages are out for delivery.

Gaia GPS is great for exploring trails and roads (offline or online) and whatnot, perfect for venturing upstate (wherever your upstate may be) and further into the woods. It’s fast, reliable, and loaded with bells and whistles, but the standout feature is the quality of the trail maps, which are so legible.

A joint creation from the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, iNaturalist is a sort of “communal science class” where you record your experiences in nature, then share with a larger group of amateurs and experts. You can crowdsource answers (What kind of snake is this?) and track patterns in the wild (or the backyard). Your data can directly help scientists, naturalists, park rangers, and community organizations. 

iNaturalist also makes the superlative Seek plant identifier, which several Small Planeteers use. It’s so, so easy to use … point-click-ID … and a nice way to connect to the “outside” world this summer.

New York state residents: you’ve probably already heard of this way to keep your vax card on hand in your mobile device. What surprised us is how quickly it’s been adopted by small businesses to facilitate easy, safe entry (especially to bars and restaurants). If you got all your shots, the whole process takes 3 minutes, start to finish.

Looking for another plant identifier to play around with? One of the most useful features in the Garden Answers app is a “temperature taker” which tells you if your plant is having trouble with pests or diseases.