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Toolkit: Genealogy iPhone Apps
12/3/2009
You’ve seen the commercials touting all you can do with iPhone apps. But what if you need to double-check Great-grandpa’s birth date while you’re at the archives? As it turns out, there’s an app for that. Want to input the details from the death certificate you found? There’s an app for that, too.
 
The iPhone, of course, is Apple’s version of the “smart phone,” combining a phone, music player, video player, Web browser and e-mail into one tiny device—plus you can add thousands of small, inexpensive apps for playing games, managing money, mapping your way and many other purposes (or use your free iTunes software to browse the iTunes App Store).
 
We found six iPhone apps dedicated to genealogy; they also run on the iPod Touch music and video player. Some apps simply let you view your family tree; with others, you can actually update your family file and synchronize it with a companion program on a Mac desktop computer.
 
None of the popular Windows genealogy programs has a corresponding mobile phone app—yet—but some iPhone apps work with a GEDCOM file, which you can generate from any Windows or Mac genealogy software. 
 
Pedigree viewers
Neither of these genealogy apps supports multimedia or editing, but you can take notes in Shrubs. Both apps work with a GEDCOM file that you can create with just about any Mac or Windows genealogy program.
 
FamViewer 2: This $14.99 app from Aster Software has person, family, tree and sources views, as well as a name index. You can view an ancestor tree with up to eight generations and navigate by touch. The app supports multiple GEDCOM files and large databases. It’s been tested with GEDCOM files containing as many as 80,000 names and still runs reasonably fast.
 
Shrubs 3: Benoît Bousquet’s $9.99 app, available in English and French versions, has a text display and no pedigree charts or graphics. You can take notes in person view. Version 3 supports source citations and notes.
 
Tree-editing apps
Like desktop genealogy software, these three apps let you edit your family file and add new information.
 
GedView 2.0: David A. Knight’s $3.99 app works with GEDCOM files from any Windows or Mac genealogy program. GedView has individual and family views, and you can edit, add and delete persons, events, facts, notes and sources. The developer plans to add support for creating new families, including linking spouses and children to a person. This app supports multiple databases. It works best with no more than 3,000 names on an iPhone 3G, but it handles files with as many as 70,000 names on an iPhone 3GS. You can export your complete data­base or just changes since a given date as a GEDCOM file.
 
MobileFamilyTree 2: Available in English, French and German versions, this full-featured genealogy program from Synium Software GmbH costs $4.99. It requires MacFamilyTree software, $49, from the same company. This version has almost all of the features of the desktop program, including the Virtual Tree, ancestor and descendant charts, a map view and the media browser. You can edit your family file on your iPhone or iPod Touch and then synchronize it with the MacFamilyTree file on your Mac.
 
Reunion for iPhone and iPod: This $14.99 app from Leister Productions requires version 9.09 or higher of Reunion for Macintosh ($99.99). This app is a fully functional genealogy program, and it copies the complete Reunion data file from your desktop, including sources and pictures. The desktop program and the app have a similar interface, using a family card display.
 
The app displays a six-generation overview of your family tree, and you can use a swiping gesture to navigate through photos. Edit your family file, add people and document your sources, and then synchronize the data on your iPhone or iPod Touch with the Reunion file on your desktop computer.
 
FamilySearch tool
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ FamilySearch Family Tree—now in the testing stage and open only to church members—combines several databases into a large family tree that users can edit and collaborate on. Once it opens to the public (expected sometime in 2010), it’ll move onto the FamilySearch website.
 
MobileTree: This new $5 app lets you search, view and edit files on FamilySearch Family Tree from an iPhone or an iPod Touch. MobileTree has individual, family and pedigree views. Family trees you view in FamilySearch are saved in the app’s cache, so you can view them later even when you’re offline. In addition to interacting with FamilySearch, the developers also plan to expand the app into a GEDCOM viewer.

From the January 2010 Family Tree Magazine
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