Sunday, April 22, 2012

Genealogy in a Post-PC World, Part 2: First Apps

It's official. I have my new iPad, and it is amazing. It's not much different physically than my iPad 1, but it is much faster, has a built-in camera, and has the retina display. I notice the speed especially when I'm rapidly switching from app to app, which I've been known to do. The camera is a decent 5 megapixels and does the job for most things. The retina display really makes a difference. Things on the screen look so much clearer now. I could go on and on about the iPad, but I'm here to talk about something more important: the apps.

In part 2 of this series I am going to talk about the first two genealogy related apps I downloaded to the iPad,'s Ancestry (free), and Synium Software's MobileFamilyTree Pro ($14.99). Why did I download two family tree apps for the iPad? Both brought some very valuable tools to the table, and that is what I plan to discuss in this article.


My entire family tree has been uploaded to and this is where I do the bulk of my research. They claim over 7 billion genealogical records on their site, so there is plenty of information to sift through. It was so easy to load my family tree into the app. All I had to do was log into my account and it showed up immediately. Ancestry makes it very easy to build your family tree and share it with others. With the Ancestry app on my iPad, I can take that entire family tree with me wherever I go. Since version 1.0, Ancestry has really done a lot to improve their app. Here is Ancestry's listing of new features for version 3 of the Ancestry app for iPad/iPhone:

  • Ability to access’s “shaky leaf” hints for new discoveries of historical records about your ancestors directly in the app
  • Merge functionality that identifies and extracts information about family members from historical records to help you grow your tree
  • In-app purchasing, allowing non-subscribers to access record hints without a subscription
  • Improved ability to add information to photos
  • Ability to easily change your family tree privacy settings
  • A more stable app with better performance

In version 3.1.2 they added support for the retina display on the new iPad so you can view historical documents in higher resolution.

I use the Ancestry app because of its close integration with No matter where I make a change it is always synced everywhere I go. I just wish that the Ancestry app had the ability to search all of their records and add that information to your tree. It's nice that you can add the hints to your tree, but this needs to be expanded to include a global record search similar to what MyHeritage has. Ancestry has shown a commitment to the iOS platform and I'm sure they are working on adding this functionality.

MobileFamilyTree Pro

Synium Software started out making family tree software for the Mac, called Mac Family Tree. It's a great piece of software that I use on my iMac. It has lots of features, reports, and even 3D family trees. Synium then created a companion iOS app that allowed you to sync your whole database onto your iPad. It proved to be a simple and easy way of bringing your research everywhere with you.

Rewritten from the ground up, MobileFamilyTree Pro is a standalone app that brings the best features of Mac Family Tree to the iPad. You can edit your information, export your GEDCOM file, and even print reports and charts using AirPrint.

It was easy to load my GEDCOM file into the app. I connected the iPad to my iMac, opened iTunes, and chose the file I wanted to transfer. Once I synced the iPad it loaded the GEDCOM right into MobileFamilyTree.

MFT Pro is very easy to use. I find entering and editing information to be a painless process. I really love MFT Pro for the reports and charts. It's great that you can email charts and reports as PDFs to others. Printing charts and reports should be just as easy. I don't have an AirPrint compatible printer yet so I can't test out this feature yet.

Check out the demo video from Synium

Coming up in the next installment: "Apps to Make You More Productive"

1 comment:

  1. Hi Andrew - So glad to find your blog. I love tech toys for genealogy too, but they don't always come with good directions! I think I'll learn a lot here. I'm really looking forward to your next post on productivity apps.