Modern Software Experience

2011-09-27

Ancestry App icon

Ancestry.com

Ancestry app

Back in January, Ancestry.com released its Ancestry app. Promoted as an iPad app, it actually works on a iPhone or iPod touch as well. However, the app does take advantage of iPad's bigger screen and of 3G connectivity, so the iPad is the best platform for it.

impressions

Early this year, Ancestry manager Kendall Hulet came to the Netherlands, among other things to show me the new Ancestry app. It looks nice and it works intuitively; he wanted to demonstrate every feature, I started to play around and had no trouble navigating. Performance seems fine, at least with the small tree he used.

The best part of the Ancestry app is that it is a free app, and that has made it quite popular; in April, Ancestry was already boasting one million downloads of their Ancestry app.
You do need a free Ancestry account, and be aware of what gets published to Ancestry.com.

Ancestry for Android

The one question, or rather suggestion, I had immediately, was an Android edition. I am pretty sure that I many Ancestry.com users have voiced exactly the same suggestion. Well, Ancestry has been listening and is creating an Android edition. In fact, development of Ancestry for Android is so far along that they are now looking for a few beta testers.

tip: your Android version

Starting at the home screen, press the Menu button. Choose Settings from the Menu. Scroll down to choose About Phone. The Firmware version is what you're looking for.
It will probably say 2.1, 2.2 or 2.3.

Ancestry for Android Beta

There's a one-page Ancestry for Android Beta Survey you can fill out for a chance to be in the Ancestry for Android Beta. You are expected to provide your Android brand and model, and Android version you're using.

Ancestry API

One interesting thing about the Ancestry app is that it, merely by existing, reveals the existence of something else: an Ancestry API. Family Tree Maker 2012's new TreeSync feature is further confirmation of its existence. Now that MyHeritage followed Geni in publishing their API, how long can Ancestry afford to stay behind?
Perhaps Ancestry wants to be first to market with their own app, partly to be the first, partly to be really sure everything works as it should, but one thing is sure: as long as they keep it to themselves, there will only be their own app. Things will only start to get really interesting when Ancestry opens up their API to third parties.

TreeSync

The big new feature in Family Tree Maker 2012 is TreeSync, and it is like the missing piece in a puzzle; with TreeSync and the Ancestry app, your genealogy can go mobile without leaving the Ancestry.com world. You can synchronise your Family Tree Maker database with Ancestry Family Trees, and you can access those using the Ancestry app.
That's cool - when it works. It surely is something to try out, simply because it is hard to resist. However, TreeSync has known limitations, and early adopters are likely to discover unknown ones.

updates

2011-09-20 FTM 2012 released

Family Tree Maker 2012 has been released. In the Ancestry press release, senior vice president Eric Shoup echoes the above thoughts about synchronising between platforms, Now with the combination of Ancestry.com, the Ancestry mobile app and the new Family Tree Maker, users can work on their family tree anywhere, anytime., but in his enthusiasm for the idea, completely forgets to note that there are limitations.

2011-11-03 Beta 1

Beta testing of the Ancestry for Android app has started.
Beta participants have received a download link for Beta 1.

2011-21-21 Out of Beta

The Ancestry app has officially been released.

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