There’s a lot of folks who ask for help identifying their rocks and minerals. It’s probably the single most common type of email that I receive. And to be completely honest with you, I rarely respond to these emails. Why? Because there’s just so much that goes into properly identifying the myriad of minerals that are in a single rock.
The other reason is, because there are many cases where you could ask a room full of experienced rockhounds to identify your rock, and you’d almost certainly not get all of them to agree.
So, with that said, I just want to let you know right off the bat hat there is no app in the world that you can buy or download onto your phone that will accurately identify your rock specimens.
It’s just not possible.
Sure. Some apps can be successful at recognizing text-book perfect specimens, like a clear quartz crystal or amethyst. But for the most part, no apps will do a good job.
So, knowing that, we’ll get on with taking a look at a few of the rock identification apps that are out there.
Rock and Mineral Identification Apps
The apps I mention below are only reliable as resource guides. They will not accurately identify your rocks and minerals.
Whether you’re a student studying geology or you’re simply just a passionate rockhound like me, being able to quickly and accurately identify rocks and minerals is very important. It can mean the difference between keeping a sought after specimen or throwing it back into the trailing’s pile.
We live in amazing times. We have the ability to quickly and easily access information that can help us identify rocks and minerals quite accurately. And all of this information is sitting at the tips of our fingers, just waiting for us to access it.
In this article, I’m going to share with you what I’ve found to be the best rock and mineral app. I’m always downloading different geology related apps onto my phone and testing them out. So I felt it was time to share with you what I’ve found after playing around with these apps.
This list of the best rock and mineral identification apps includes apps, which at the time of this writing, are free. So that gives you the option to download them at no cost to test them out for yourself.
A Best Alternative to Downloading an App
Perfect for every rock collector and geology enthusiast to have on hand. This valuable reference covers more rocks and minerals in North America than any other available guide.
1. Smart Geology- Mineral Guide
The Smart Geology- Mineral Guide is going to be your best option when it comes to looking for high quality, free rockhounding apps. It’s incredibly easy to use and has an excellent user interface. As far as free apps goes, this is definitely one of the best for helping you identify minerals you have in your collection.
The “Detect Hand Specimen” feature is probably my favorite part of this app. With it, you are asked a series of questions regarding your unknown specimen, including color, form habit, hardness, basic streak, set of cleavage, type of fracture, luster and specific gravity. After you provide the app with as many answers as possible, it gives you a list of the top 5 minerals it believes you have with an estimated matching percentage of accuracy.
- Features a “Detect Hand-Specimen” option
- A wealth if accurate and in depth information for many different minerals
- Loaded with high quality images and descriptions.
- In-app purchases are inexpensive (but not necessary)
- In the version I tested, when you used the back button it would start you back at the beginning. This was frustrating especially when I only wanted to go back one screen. This is an easy fix and may already have been fixed by the time you read this.
2. Minerals guide: Rocks, Crystals & Gemstones
According to the official app description:
“Minerals guide: Rocks, Crystals & Gemstone is a comprehensive application that allows geologists and hobbyists to examine and explore minerals, rocks, gemstones and crystals features. Geology Toolkit helps you to identify many types of fossils that you will find.
Whether you are preparing for an essay, studying for an exam or simply want to enrich your hobby or expand your knowledge, this “Smart Mineralogist” is your essential guide.”
Included in this rock and mineral identification app:
• over 4000 definitions of characteristics and terms; ideal for professionals, students and hobbyists alike;
• advanced search function with autocomplete – search will start and predict word as you type;
• voice search;
• work offline – database packaged with the app, no data costs incurred when searching;
• includes hundreds of examples to illustrate the definitions;
• is an ideal app for quick reference or to learn more about the mineralogy.
3. Geology Rocks – Handbook of Rocks
This is a good app to use to research your minerals and learn more about them once you already know what they are. So it’s not the best app for helping you identify rocks and minerals. But, with that said, it’s still worth checking out because the descriptions and information that’s available on the app is worth while.
Features of this app:
- More than 4000 rock types;
- 22 diagrams useful for the identification of Igneous, Sedimentary and Metamorphic rocks;
- Minimalist design;
- Very fast and fully searchable;
- Basic details for each rock type.
4. Geology Toolkit Premium
Ok, I know I said that the geology apps I mention in this article are all free. Well, I thought they would be too. But this list would not be anywhere close to being complete if I didn’t talk about the Premium version of Geology Toolkit.
Even though this app will cost somewhere around $7 to download, it’s worth every penny. This is much more than a rock and mineral identification app. This is a massive resource of information
According to the apps description on Google Play:
“Geology Toolkit is a thoroughly practical, lively and comprehensive application that allows geologists and hobbyists or even kids to examine and explore minerals and rocks features under the petrographic microscope or as hand-specimen.
Whether you are preparing for an essay, studying for an exam or simply want to enrich your hobby or expand your knowledge, Geology Toolkit is your essential guide.
This app is an identification guide to many types of rocks, minerals, and even fossils. Geology Toolkit will guide you on how to recognize some of the rocks and minerals that you will find.”