Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Using the Kindle Fire for Genealogy – Families

I just LOVE the Families app (Android, iOS; $15).  It’s basically a mobile app for Legacy Family Tree, which is the genealogy software that I use.  The interface is very similar to Legacy so there’s not a big learning curve.  You do need to download Families Sync (free) and install it on your computer in order to transfer the files between your computer and device.


Because of the Families app, my Kindle Fire is all I need when I’m out and about doing research.  In fact, it was the only thing I had with me during my entire Family History Library trip in February.  My laptop stayed in the hotel room all week and I didn’t miss it at all.  And as I was lugging my laptop (power cord, extra battery, security cable, etc.) through two airports on the way home, I made up my mind that the laptop can stay at home on future research trips (I can do all my email on the Fire or my Android phone).

Kindle-families1 While researching on-site, whenever I need to reference something, I just open the Families app and either navigate to the person or do a search for them.  The app contains the same information as entered in Legacy, including tags, to do list items (individual and general), sources, and bookmarks.  You can also have multiple family tree files.  I’m not sure how big a file the app will support, but mine is 10,000+ individuals and it works just fine (and synched in no time).

Do you need another great reason to have the Families app on your Kindle Fire?  How many times have you been with family (or even at a genealogical society meeting) and the topic of your family research comes up?  Plenty I’m sure, and don’t you just hate it when you can remember specific details?  This happened to me a few times with my in-laws.  But a few months ago, while at the in-laws for dinner, they started talking about their family and asked if I knew this, that, or the other, and I was able to reply, “I don’t know, let me get my Kindle Fire out and look at my database.”  True story!!  And boy were they impressed with the information I had collected over several generations.  I pretty much have my Kindle Fire everywhere I go, so I’m armed and dangerous when it comes to questions about my family history.

I like the Families app better than the Ancestry app (will review soon) for a few reasons, one being that Families is easier to navigate and functions very much like Legacy.  In addition, Legacy is my main database and as long as I sync periodically (or right before a research trip) between my computer and my Kindle Fire, I have pretty current data.  Since my Ancestry family tree is not up-to-date, it really does me no good (right now, my Ancestry tree has 6,968, whereas my Legacy database has 10,307…wow, I’ve covered a lot of ground in a year!).

My biggest complaint is that you can’t see multiple marriages.  On the family screen, it does indicate how many marriages, but there is no way to access a list of spouses and the family view only shows the “preferred” spouse.  So if you want to know who the other spouses are, you have to change to the “timeline” view (it defaults to the husband, but you can click on the wife’s name at the top to see the timeline in her perspective).  I hope the app developers make this available from the family view and individual view in a future update.  CORRECTION:  Linda McCauley (Documenting the Details) left a comment explaining that you need to press and hold on the name of the person and that a window will pop up with the option to switch to another spouse.  Thanks, Linda!!

Even though there is a $15 price tag for this app, I think it’s worth it.  It’s so much nicer to throw the Kindle Fire in my purse and take it with me to repositories than to lug my laptop around.  I highly recommend the Families app.

If you want to know more about the app, Legacy is having a webinar on Wednesday, April 10 at 1:00pm CST, “Genealogy on the Go - the Families App for Your Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad,” presented by Malcolm Green.  If you aren’t able to attend, a recording will probably be available for about a week or so after the 10th, or you can purchase the recording on CD.

Do you use the Families app?  Do you like it?  Are there any improvements you’d like to see?  Share your thoughts in the comments of this post.

See also:



Linda McCauley said...

I held my breathe and left my laptop at home when we went to SLC in February. I had the Families app on my Android tablet and made out just fine so I will be using it a lot more in the future instead of lugging around the laptop.

You can see multiple marriages. When in the family view for a person with more than one spouse, press and hold the name of the spouse and a box will open to select a different spouse. (i.e. if a man has 2 wives, press and hold the wife's name).

Julie Cahill Tarr said...

Thanks, Linda. I have posted a correction to this post.

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