iObs has several main input screens that you can reach through a menu. Activating the menu is done by pressing the menu button on the upper left corner. A menu appears to the left and you can click on an entry to go to that screen. The menu will automatically close again. To just close the menu, click the menu icon again or drag the current screen which has moved to the right back to the left.

The menu contains the following options:

In the remainder of the manual, the action of pressing on the menu icon and then choosing an option is indicated as “Go to Menu/


iObs supports four languages: English, Dutch, French and German. iObs itself uses the language of the device, and defaults to English if that language is not supported. Note that species lists can be downloaded in one of the four supported languages. This is independent of the language of the device. For example, you could have iObs in English and then load a list of Dutch bird names.

Note that you cannot set a different language for iObs itself other than by changing the language of the device itself.

Position tracking

iObs uses the location service from the device to track the position. Normally you would use GPS for that. When you have an accurate GPS-fix, the location icon on the top bar is green. When the GPS position is not accurate, the location icon is red and the save button is disabled . Normally, just waiting for the fix to become more accurate is sufficient to fix this. Alternatively, you can click on the position icon. You’ll arrive at the map screen where you can manually enter a location. See Using the map for more information.

Note that the iPad Wifi models don’t have support for GPS. iObs will still work, but you have to enter the location manually, or use the location that the device detects from Wifi, Bluetooth or by other means.

Offline use

iObs is designed for offline use. You can go to places where you don’t have a data connection, e.g. abroad, and continue to enter observations. Once you have a data connection, you can upload all entered observations in one go. Note that adding new species lists requires a data connection, so when you make a trip make sure you prepare this. Also, viewing map data requires a data connection. Without data connection it is not possible to manually enter or correct the position of an observation.

Data usage

iObs is a small application and the data usage is low. The data usage is determined by the following items:

  • Number of observations
  • Number of species lists
  • Number of photos

You can always check the current data usage on the “About” screen, see About.

In practice, only adding and keeping a lot of photos will increase the data usage of iObs significantly. To be able to free up space you can remove the observations that were already sent. You can also keep the observation history on the device and only delete photos from uploaded observations. See Manage observations for more info on this.

Color usage

iObs uses a few colors to indicate the state of an item. The use of colors is as follows:

  • Green: indicates the “normal” state.
    • A data field value that can be set or changed.
    • A button that is enabled.
  • Grey: indicates disabled state.
    • A data field that is read-only and cannot be changed
    • A button that is disabled.
  • Blue: indicates a locked value.
    • Labels and icons for data field values that have been locked. You can change the value, and this is preserved across saves.
    • Time and position icon on the top bar, when a custom time or position has been entered and tracking of the current time or position has been disabled.
    • Protection icon on the top bar, when protection has been enabled. This is preserved across saves automatically.
    • Color of the pin icon on the toolbar when locking is active.
  • Orange: indicates a warning.
    • The indicator on the “Add” screen for sub counts that have identical specification.
    • The indicator color on the “Observations” screen for observations that have not been uploaded yet.
    • Orange is also used as background for fields holding a species name, very light orange for a rare species and a stronger orange for a vagrant species.
  • Red: indicates an error.
    • The position icon if there is no accurate GPS fix.
    • The indicator color on the “Observations” screen for observations that have been uploaded and for which the server returned an error.