Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Genealogy Programs with Mobile Apps

2014 is the year that the sales of mobile phones are expected to reach 1.9 billion units. The total number of mobile phones, smartphones and tablets is expected to reach just over 2.4 billion units. If you think about that, the total population of the world is just over 7 billion so that means almost one out of three people in the entire world will buy a mobile device in 2014. See Gartner Says Worldwide Traditional PC, Tablet, Ultramobile and Mobile Phone Shipments to Grow 4.2 Percent in 2014.

Genealogy software and online database programs have been relatively slow to wake up to these facts and take advantage of the mobile market. There are still a number of genealogy software programs that do not have mobile apps for both iOS or Android devices, for example. In addition, the functionality of the apps is very limited. As to the growth of the operating systems, the Gartner article above states:
In the operating system (OS) market, Android and iOS are driving the growth with a 30 percent and 15 percent increase, respectively, in 2014 (see Table 2). "We expect the announcement of the new Apple iPhone 6 will attract pent-up demand for users who want a larger screen," said Annette Zimmermann, research director at Gartner. "Windows phones will exhibit strong growth from a low base in 2014, and are projected to reach a 10 percent market share by 2018 — up from 4 percent in 2014."
The main issue is the ability to use a mobile app to actually add names, edit information and add photos, documents and other media to your online database or even your program housed on a desktop computer. The latter is a problem because so many of the people acquiring mobile devices have no access to a desktop computer and rely exclusively on their mobile device. Sales of traditional desk-based and notebook computers are actually falling. See article cited above.

 The total number of genealogy related apps continues to grow, but the utility of these apps is overall quite low with a few notable exceptions. If you read my blog regularly, you might have picked up that I do not usually do software reviews. The reason for this is quite simple. Software use is very personal and it is very difficult to compare programs without expressing a personal preference. But overall, there are some trends that are very evident.

In looking at the Apple App Store, I find only nine apps that show from a search for the term "genealogy." I know that there are more than that, but that is all that show in the App Store. If I go to the iTunes store, I find a much larger selection, 114 apps. Of those apps there are the following iPhone apps that are programs associated either with online databases or desktop programs:

  • Shoebox from
  • Tree
  • Memories
  • Reunion
  • Heredis
  • Legacy Mobile
  • Gramps

I admit, I may have missed one or two because of my unfamiliarity with the name of the app. As an example, lists nine mobile apps that interact with Family Tree in some way or another. Only two of those are for Android and the rest are iOS apps. Only one of the apps works on a Windows phone. Interesting, FamilySearch does not list its own two apps on their website yet. The Google Play Store (Android) lists something over 100 apps for a search for the term "genealogy" but there are a huge number of these that seem to have nothing to do with genealogy at all and the list is highly questionable. But inexplicably, some programs that do not have Apple OS X versions only have iOS apps. It starts to become very confusing.

There are several lists of desktop genealogy software online, but it is difficult to determine exactly which have mobile apps and which don't. It looks to me that only about half of the presently available programs have mobile apps. Some have apps for iOS but no corresponding Apple OS X program. Online genealogy software reviews seem to select some pretty strange program groups for their reviews, ignoring some very popular programs and including others that even I have never heard of.

The list above illustrates my point that the genealogy software developers are well behind the growth curve for mobile apps.


  1. Hi, I just love the entire post and beautiful collection of. And I make sure to visit your site often..

  2. Legacy Family Tree has the Families app also.

  3. Two I LOVE are Dropbox and Evernote. I no longer have to drag reams of information when I do research.

  4. nice post i love it thanks for sharing this.