Mike's NBC-TV stories

Identify plants, birds and animals with your smartphone camera

Warmer weather means we’ll be using the cameras on our smartphones to take plenty of pics of things like beaches, sunsets, parades, and more.

As PC Mike Wendland shows this week, those cameras can be used to help you learn about the world around you.

PlantSnap lets you instantly identify plants of all kinds: flowers, trees and much more, simply by taking a picture of the plant. The developers claim the app is able to recognize 90 percent of all plant species on the planet, with hundreds of thousands in its database. The app is $3.99 for iOS and Android.

Merlin Bird ID is specific to birds. Take a photo and Merlin’s powerful searching capabilities will suggest an identification almost instantly. You can also use the app’s question-and-answer function to identify the bird if you can’t get a shot of the bird fast enough. The app is free for iOS and Android.

The app called iNaturalist allows you to learn about the plants, insects and animals, specifically around you. Take a picture of the plant, insect, or animal and a community of more than 400,000 scientists and naturalists can help users learn about the world around them. The app is free for iOS and Android.

Mike is a veteran journalist whose video "PC Mike" reports have been distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations since 1994, making him one of the most experienced tech reporters in the country. His tech stories and videos have appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, the Today Show, The New York Times, USA Today and in numerous national newspapers and magazines. In addition to the PC Mike tech blog, he also publishes the Roadtreking.com RV Travel Blog in which he travels North America in an RV reporting about interesting people and places.