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10 Free Fall Foliage Apps You Need

Download Fun, Helpful Apps Before You Go Leaf Peeping This Fall

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Fall Foliage Apps

Here's a peek at the fall foliage apps I've loaded on my iPhone. Enhance your leaf peeping experience with these free tools, games and photo apps.

iPhone screenshot © 2013 Kim Knox Beckius

Which apps are on your New England Expert's iPhone as she hits the road this fall foliage season? Well, I'm a frugal Yankee, of course, so you can be sure that if I'm going to download and field test a fall foliage app, it's going to be free! I'm also a photography addict and a fan of anything that allows me to capture New England's fall splendor creatively. And... my 10-year-old daughter and I are embarking on our first "Girls Gone Leaf Peeping" getaway, so I've made sure to load my phone with apps to entertain us during down times... like while we're waiting in line for cider donuts.

If you've discovered a cool fall foliage app I've missed, please share your suggestion in the New England Forum:

Yankee Foliage Leaf Peepr

(Download free for iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad from iTunes)
(Download free for Android devices from Google Play)

Yankee magazine's free fall foliage app relies on the generosity and good eyes of "Peeps": app users who supply foliage reports and photos from the field. Take a picture with your phone, use a slider to indicate where leaves are on the spectrum from Green to Gone, add a description of what you see, and "Peep it!" The input is aggregated on a color-coded map of New England, so users can see at a glance what conditions are being reported throughout the New England states. Zoom in on the map, touch a specific location, and you'll see the latest images and reports. Cool, eh? My daughter was easily able to add her first report from our backyard, and it appeared in minutes. Keep in mind that, as with all crowd-sourced data, accuracy may be a bit lacking. A check of Windham County, Vermont, for example, shows one user reporting leaves are at "moderate," another saying they're still "green" two days later and a third reporting "peak" conditions two days after that! Still, an impressive number of "Peeps" are contributing, and it's fun to see real-time reports and images from all over New England as the season progresses. 

Leafsnap

(Download free for iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad from iTunes)

Bright minds are behind Leafsnap, a leaf identification app developed by researchers from Columbia University, the University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution. As someone who has collected and pressed leaves for years and who even mails them free to folks who miss New England in the fall, I love the idea of a simple app that allows me to snap a photo of a leaf and learn not only which tree it's fallen from but rich detail about its mother tree. In my first experiments with the Leafsnap app, I've found it intuitive to use and fairly accurate. But the finicky requirement that leaves be photographed against a solid white background makes this electronic field guide tricky to use while I'm out hiking in the autumn woods. My solution thus far: Carry a white napkin along on my treks.

If you're really into trees, download TreeID, too. It's not as snazzy or user-friendly as Leafsnap, but if you know your palmate from your pinnate leaves, it'll provide additional insights and even has a photo-filled guide to how trees turn colors during fall foliage season.

Trover

(Download free for iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad from iTunes)

I first discovered Trover when it was nominated for Best Travel App in About.com's Readers' Choice Awards. Trover allows travelers to share artistic, quirky and scenic places they stumble upon. To contribute, you simply snap a picture with your iPhone's camera and upload it: Geographic information is automatically attached to the image. Then, when another traveler is in the vicinity, your discovery will pop up as a neat, nearby thing to see or do. Search Trover for "Kim Knox Beckius," and you can see the oddities I've found in my New England travels... including a giant beaver and an actual fork in the road! Many Trover users add picturesque spots, which makes the app particularly helpful for shutterbugs aiming to capture interesting fall scenes.

The Ultimate Drive

(Download free for iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad from iTunes)
(Download free for Android devices from Google Play)
(Download free from the Facebook AppCenter)

BMW Financial Services gives us this free app that's ideal for travelers looking for the scenic route this fall. After all, a GPS will likely direct you to highways, and during the autumn months, that's definitely not the best way to go! The Ultimate Drive allows driving enthusiasts to map their favorite lesser-known "Road Stretches." Whether or not you own a BMW, you can share advice with other drivers and seek out scenic byways and backroads near your current location.

New Hampshire Foliage Tracker

(Download free for iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad from iTunes)
(Download free for Android devices from Google Play)

The New Hamphsire Division of Travel and Tourism Development's free Foliage Tracker app is slick! If New Hampshire is your autumn destination, it's simply a must-have. Key features include one-touch access to the latest foliage reports for all regions of New Hampshire with detailed advice on where leaves are at their best, itinerary suggestions and in-app maps to help you locate attractions along your route, plus an interactive Foliage Timeline map that will help you time your trip based on historic peak data. There's also a Gallery: Post a photo and caption to help other leaf peepers find gorgeous leaves. What's lacking, though, is the date each photo was taken and the exact geographic location. Perhaps the app will be enhanced with these features in time for fall '14!

Leaves Paint

(Download free for iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad from iTunes)

I love apps that are fun for kids from 3 to 93! This sweet little app allows you to make line drawings or trace provided images, then, choose colorful leaves that will cascade and stick to your sketch as they fall. Green, red, yellow, blue, pink and silver leaves aren't the only embellishments: Butterflies, bees, ladybugs and acorns can dress your drawings, too. While the basic app is free, you'll need to pay $1.99 for an ad-free upgrade that allows you to save your creations. The free app is a perfectly usable version, though, that may buy you some "Are we there yet?"-free fall driving time.

Postagram

(Download free for iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad from iTunes)
(Download free for Android devices from Google Play)

I've always embraced new technologies. Heck--I've been producing this Web site since 1998, when the Internet was an infant and my dial-up connection was slower than slow. But I can't be the only traveler who still likes to send real glossy postcards in the good ol' U.S. mail, especially to surprise older relatives and friends afar. When you snap vivid foliage photos this fall, don't settle for simply posting them on Facebook, where they'll fade off the page--and into oblivion--faster than the leaves fall from trees. The Postagram app makes it simple to transform images that live in your phone's Photo Library--or on Instagram, Facebook or in Dropbox--into genuine postcards that arrive in the mail in about a week. Add your message and a recipient's address, and your postcard will be on its way. No, you can't add your personal signature and doodles, but you'll still make someone's day. As of this writing, your first three postcards are mailed free.

I'm also keeping an eye on the ByPost app, which provides a similar service. The postcards they offer are even more customizable, plus they're two-sided. But... I can't complete the process to create a postcard: ByPost continually crashes on me.

Autumn Free

(Download free for iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad from iTunes)

Autumn Free is the simplest fall foliage app on my iPhone. Essentially, it's an autumn scene with leaves drifting and falling in the foreground. Touch your device's screen, and the leaves respond to your fingertip. "You can create a wind storm," says my daughter, by swirling your finger rapidly. This fall foliage app might not keep you--or the kids--enthralled for long, but if you're trapped inside a cubicle on a perfect fall day, it might just be the quick de-stressor you need to muscle through the day.

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