Software Review: Ancestry for iPad/iPhone version 2.0

By David A. Fryxell Premium
Ease of use

If you already have an online family tree at, using this iPad version couldn’t be simpler — it even works on your iPhone. Once you’ve installed it from the App Store, just sign in to your account, and you’ll see a list of your online trees. Poof! Your tree downloads and you’re viewing it on the iPad or iPhone.


Click on an ancestor or the twin-pane icon at the top of the screen to see info about that person. Buttons at the bottom of this pop-up pane navigate to a family view, a display of linked photos and an “Evidence” view. The Evidence view shows any source records you’ve linked to this person on, which actually display and zoom better on the iPad’s ultra-clear screen than on a regular browser. (Source images that you’ve viewed while logged in on the iPad remain accessible even without an Internet connection, but you’ll encounter errors trying to do much offline.)

Help, even at, is skimpy at best, but like most iOS programs, the app is so intuitive you can figure it out on your own.

Ancestry for iPad/iPhone version 2.0
Price: free
Manufacturer: , (800) 262-3787
System requirements: iPad or iPhone (iOS 3.1 or later) plus a family tree on
Demo/trial version: none
Biggest draws: Lovely to look at and intuitive to use; ability to view original source images attached to your tree; search and upward integration with; even works on your phone
Drawbacks: Lacks regular source citations and help/tutorials; limited searching within your file; clunky downward integration with when you’ve changed your online tree

File management
Th Ancestry app works only with family tree files, so any GEDCOM upload must be done via the website. Edits you make on the iPad, however, are instantly reflected in your online tree (provided your iPad has an internet connection). The reverse isn’t true, even if you’ve gotten to Ancestry via the app’s search link in the Evidence view: To retrieve changes or attached source documents in your online tree, you have to log out of the iPad app and log in again.

Charts and multimedia
The app displays photos you’ve linked to individuals on, or you can add them directly from your iOS photo albums. It can’t create or print charts, but the pedigree chart that appears on your iPad is attractive and easy to navigate — just swipe a finger. Even the iPhone version, though tiny, is usable.

Documentation and publication
Source citations represent the high and the low of this app. On the plus side, the ability to view original source images such as census pages you’ve attached from is by itself worth installing this app. (Want to show Grandma that census? Just whip out your iPhone.) On the minus side, no other sources show up at all, even those entered or uploaded in your online tree.

The magnifying-glass icon pops up an alphabetical index of individuals that you can scroll through or search (by first or last names only). Searching from the Evidence view switches to the Safari browser, from where it works just as if you initiated a search from your online tree, with your criteria already entered.

The verdict
The ability to take your tree with you and to view attached records makes this irresistible for any iPad- or iPhone-owning genealogist (and you can’t beat the price). The integration with member trees might even tempt you to make your uploaded tree your “real” pedigree file. If Ancestry made it easier to update the iPad info, for seamless two-way integration and offline use, and let the iPad display the same source info you have online, this one-two punch of plus app would be tough to beat on any platform.

Tip: To view a different tree, click the name of the current tree, and you’ll return to a list of all your trees.

From the September 2011 issue of Family Tree Magazine

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