There are times when I pull a complete blank on topics for my blog. When I do, Thomas MacEntee's Geneabloggers site is a great place to get some inspiration. Mobile Monday seemed to be an appropriate topic as I delivered a lecture last weekend to the Florida Genealogical Society in Tampa titled "There's An App for That!"
If you've read my bio, you know that I spent 20 years working at Apple Computer. I was in sales for my entire career, and when I left in 2002, I was a Regional Manager, responsible for the higher education market in the Northeast. The system engineers who worked for me used to joke about me being technical enough to get into trouble. I love the Apple products and as an employee got all the new products to play with (yes, I was a Newton user). When I left Apple I continued to purchase and use the products and even convinced my (non-technical) husband to move to a Mac when he retired. After explaining to him that there was no PC technical support hanging around our house like he had at work, his choice was to get a Mac or be on his own.
I have had an iPhone since the early days and when the iPad came out I was anxious to get one to take on my summer research trip to Ireland. My husband reminded me, that my mantra was always to wait for the 2nd rev of the product. I, however, was not to be discouraged and purchased the original iPad. I still have it and use it constantly. (When we finish building our new house, my intention is to enshrine it in the kitchen with all of my recipes and buy a new one.)
You might say that my life is on my iPhone. When Compaq came out with the first portable computer in 1983 it weighed upwards of 28 pounds, closed up like a sewing machine, had 640Kb of storage, 128Kb of memory and a 9" monochrome character display. My iPhone has 8GB of storage and is a phone, camera, GPS, compass, weighs 4.8 oz and fits in my pocket. It's always with me, keeps my calendar (synched with my iPad and desktop), my grocery list, lets me check my email anywhere, finds the cheapest gas, checks in on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, finds out how far I am from the green when playing golf, and most importantly, shares pictures of my grandbaby.
But what about genealogy? I also can do my accounting while traveling, access files on Dropbox, take notes with Evernote, listen to Podcasts, manage my schedule with Guidebook at conferences, and of course, carry my genealogy databases wherever I go. Need to check great grandpa's death date…there's an app for that!
As a Mac user, I've always used Reunion for my genealogy and they were one of the first to come out with a companion mobile program. You transfer your family file to your mobile device and you can make changes and update the file on the mobile device. You must remember to sync the file back to the desktop before you make any changes to the desktop version.
I use Ancestry Trees extensively and love the hints which has sometimes found records I had not been able to find. Unfortunately, since I don't use FamilyTree Maker I have a problem getting the changes into my Reunion files. The good news/bad news is that I don't work on my own family a great deal and most of my Ancestry Trees are client files so the Ancestry apps for my iPhone and iPad work well.
In December, RootsMagic came out with a mobile app which allows you to carry your file on your iPhone or iPad, but at this time it is only a viewer. You can't make any changes to the file on your mobile device.
For Legacy users, a companion app called Families is available from a third party developer in England. To move data back and forth between devices an additional piece of software called Famiiles Sync is required. This software is also available for Android.
Mobile Family Tree for the iPad is advertised as a full featured, standalong genealogy database. If your iPad is going to be your only device for genealogy, take a look at this app.
If you're using another genealogical database that can output a GEDCOM file, FamViewer or GedView will display your file on your iPhone or iPad. If you have an Android device, GedStar Pro, Family Bee or GeneDroid have the same functionality.
If you visit the App Store at Apple, or GooglePlay for the Android and search on "genealogy" you'll find pages of apps. If they're free, take them for a test drive, but if there is a charge, it's buyer beware. Read the reviews of the packages, and see if they have a trial version. I've seen a number of apps that are just PDFs of information that is freely available on the Internet.
Enjoy your genealogy on your mobile device…Happy Hunting!