All About Birds Blog

Merlin Bird ID App: Frequently Asked Questions

By on Thursday, January 9th, 2014 - 15 Comments

Merlin Bird ID app faq

As soon as we launched our free Merlin Bird ID app, people began asking questions such as what devices it works on, how to find it in the App Store, and how to get it running on their device. Below you’ll find answers to those very common questions. You’ll find a full list of frequently asked questions at our Merlin website.

Where can I download Merlin Bird ID?

Download it from the App Store via this Merlin Bird ID direct link. The app is free. You will need a wi-fi connection for the download because of the app’s size.

When will the Android version be available?

The Android version will be released in spring 2014. We encourage you to sign up and we will notify you as soon as the Android version is available.

Why is Merlin Bird ID only available for Apple products right now?

We plan to make Merlin available on all major devices, including Apple, Android, and as a Web-based app. As a nonprofit with limited funds and staffing, we were unable to develop for all three platforms at the same time. We started with Apple devices because our developer had more experience with the iPhone platform. Android remains a top priority and development is well underway. Please sign up here if you’d like to be notified when the Android version is ready.

Can I run Merlin on my computer?

Not right now, but we are working on a desktop version of Merlin for release later this year.

Can I run Merlin on my Kindle, Windows Phone, or other device?

We don’t have any plans to create versions beyond Apple, Android and the Web, but we will consider it in the future if there is enough interest. When the Web version is released, it will provide an option to access Merlin for anyone with an Internet browser.

I can’t find Merlin in the App Store (usually using iPad).

The easiest way to get the app is to click on this link from your iPad or iPhone:

The reason the app can be hard to find in the App Store, particularly for iPads, is that Merlin Bird ID is currently optimized for iPhone and iPod Touch, though it will also work on the iPad. In order to see it in App Store search results, you need to select “iPhone Only” in the left-hand drop-down list at the top of the search results page. (Here’s a screenshot.)

How do I know if I am running iOS 7?

On your iPad or iPhone, go to Settings => General => About. This screen will tell you your version number. It will look something like “7.0.4 (11B554a).” If the first number is a “7,” then you have iOS7.

To update to iOS7, go to Settings => General => Software Update and follow the instructions.

Why do you support only iOS7 and not earlier versions of iOS?

Because of changes Apple has made to App Store policies, it can be difficult and expensive to support apps for iOS 6 and older. At the Cornell Lab, we try very hard to use our limited resources wisely in support of our mission. After reviewing our options, we reluctantly came to the conclusion that we should focus on producing a high-quality app for iOS7 rather than spreading our resources to support older versions of iOS. If you are reluctant to upgrade your older device to iOS 7, we can at least tell you that several Cornell Lab staff members use Merlin Bird ID and other apps on devices as old as iPhone 4, with generally good results.

I can’t hear the sound recordings in the app.

This can be a very frustrating problem, but the good news is that it is usually an easy fix. In all of the cases we have seen so far, the problem of sound not playing has been due to the mute switch being on or the volume was turned all the way down.

The reason this can be confusing is that many built-in Apple apps such as Music, Videos, and iTunes are allowed to “ignore” the mute switch. This quirk may make it seem like sound is working for all of your other apps but not for Merlin Bird ID. Take heart: the mute switch (or the volume control) is probably the key to solving this problem.

Here’s what to do: the mute switch is an actual switch (not a button on the screen) located on the upper left side of your iPhone/iPad/iPod. If you can see orange, then the mute is turned ON, and you won’t hear sound from Merlin. Flip the switch so that you can no longer see orange and try to play a sound again. You should hear it (assuming your volume is turned up).

If you confirm that your sound is not muted by the mute switch, and still are having problems with sound, please send us an email: merlinhelp@cornell.edu We’ll work with you to figure out what is happening and how to fix it.

Why does Merlin Bird ID have only 285 species?

To develop this app and keep it focused on beginning birders, we concentrated on the most common species of North America and Canada. This made developing the ID algorithm and gathering the photos and sounds more manageable, and it helps keep users focused on the species they’re most likely to see. However, we are continuing to add species to Merlin Bird ID as one of our main development objectives.

Which species are included in Merlin Bird ID?

You’ll find a complete list of Merlin species here.

See more frequently asked questions on our Merlin website.

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15 Comments

  1. Pingback: Get Free ID Help With Our New Merlin Bird ID App | All About Birds

  2. Pettibone says:

    Very sad that on my first generation of iPad, which is only a few years old, I cannot use Merlin. One of these days I will spring for a smart phone, and then, I guess I will be able to use it.

  3. Catbird says:

    According to Apple support discussion forums, iPod touch devices older than iPod5 cannot be upgraded to iOS 7 due to lack of enough RAM.

  4. fred says:

    Ah. Too bad you didn’t have it done in HTML 5 or with Phone Gap to make it available on multiple platforms at once…

  5. Anne Ryan says:

    I do not understand why this is not available to apple computers. I do not have a smart phone and it is unlikely that i ever will. But I have been interested in birds for my whole life .

  6. Dwayne Biggar says:

    I live in South Eastern New Brunswick, Canada, I gave merlin the option to pick an all blue bird, it won’t give me the option of Indigo Bunting or Blue Grosbeak. I tried various ways and dates. Is this something you’ll be working on?
    It’s unfortunate that’s the first thing I played with.

  7. Terry Austin says:

    Eagerly awaiting the Android version. In the meantime, I’m working hard to get our property ready for some serious spring bird-watching with our new squirrel proof bird feeders.

  8. Cathy S Adair says:

    I was able to update my Iphone4 in order to install the Merlin Bird ID app. “Oh my word” how wonderful it is. It has all the Birds and Ducks that are wintering here in Hendersonville, NC I have gotten great photos of the Golden Crown Kinglets and the Ruby Crown Kinglets. I haven’t counted up all the ducks I have found wintering on the lakes and marshes. Thank you so much for the free app. I am enjoying the bird app. a lot.

  9. This app wouldn’t load on my ipod touch, even though ibird did.

  10. Pingback: Birds of SGG | Smith Gilbert Gardens

  11. sara says:

    Please make a windows phone app

  12. Dana says:

    How did your crew load an iOS 7 app onto their earlier iOS devices? Jailbreak?

    Thanks.

  13. Jere says:

    I love this app. I just wish that it stored the birds that I have identified!! :) Thanks!

  14. Raptor says:

    I updated my iPhone OS to 7 so that Merlin ID would load. All went well until I tried to actually use Merlin to identify birds arriving at my bird feeder. Merlin says “Failed to determine location. Retry?” I followed the instructions to make sure Location Services was enabled. When I try to use Merlin by typing in my zip code, it finds the correct town and state but merely resorts back to “Failed to determine location. Retry?” This is frustrating and I would appreciate some troubleshooting suggestions. Thanks.

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