If you use Ancestry.com and you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, you might know about their Tree-to-Go app that came out awhile back. It was a very basic application for viewing the family trees that you had on Ancestry.com. Frankly, it wasn’t particularly useful, as it only let you view the trees you had uploaded to Ancestry.com and wasn’t very interactive. In addition, if you had an iPad with its larger screen, it was not optimized for that, and could not show anything more on the iPad than on the iPhone.
|Ancestry on iPhone
That all changed yesterday with the introduction of a new app, now called simply Ancestry.
This new version seems much more polished, and adds some major features.
First off, it fully supports the iPad, and can take advantage of the larger screen. You can now see not only the trees you have on Ancestry.com, but those that are shared with you from other users.
Also, if you’ve attached records to people in your tree, such as a census record, you can now view those records on your device (see the picture on the right).
For those who use both Ancestry.com and an iOS device (iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad) this seems like a very useful application, especially if you share trees with other Ancestry.com users. They also announced that they are ‘carefully considering’ the creation of an Android version as well, although I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for an Android version.
The interesting thing to me about this seemingly very polished application is the contrast this illustrates with the Mac application they also recently introduced. Why is their iOS app so much more polished than their Mac app? It might seem odd that the iOS app, which is free, has had more attention in its design than their Mac application for which they charge quite a lot. I suspect the answer to this question is that the development of their iOS app is done by a completely different team than the one that handles Family Tree Maker. I’m not sure either of these applications are developed in-house by Ancestry, but either way it seems the teams working on these are completely different.
In the past couple of days both MacFamilyTree and FamilyTreeMaker for Mac have received updates.
MacFamilyTree was updated to version 6.0.11 which offers some minor web-output related fixes and some localization updates. You can download the update from their website, and for those who bought it via the App Store presumably it will show up there soon.
FamilyTreeMaker for Mac was updated to version 18.104.22.168 (yeah I don’t understand their numbering system either) and fixes ‘numerous stability issues’ and adds support for the GEDCOM 5.5.1 draft among other fixes. I’m surprised about the GEDCOM update, by which I mean I’m surprised FTM for Mac didn’t already support the 5.5.1 draft which was released in 1999 and has some very important updates like support for Unicode. If you have the retail version, this update should pop up when you launch the program or select ‘Check for Updates…’ from the menu. If you have the version from the App Store, again this will probably show up soon.
I own both of these programs, but do not use them very much because of two factors:
1) It’s hard to switch from one genealogy program to another, no matter how well they support GEDCOM.
2) As outdated as the Reunion is, and how much I complain about it, I still like the general user interface of Reunion and how it displays families in the program.
I’ve written previously about trying to switch to FTM for Mac, but I was unsuccessful mainly because of the difficulty of importing all the media files, and my general confusion over the user interface which I find very cluttered. In addition, I find the Internet features, while appealing, to be very slow.
I haven’t given MacFamilyTree its due I suppose, and many people like, but as I received it as part of a software bundle and didn’t actually buy it directly, I guess it hasn’t gotten enough mindshare from me. One day I’ll have to put it through its paces.
Today Apple launches an update to their operating system, OS X 10.6.6, which includes the new Mac ‘App Store’. The Mac App Store is accessible from the Apple menu, and like the App Store in iTunes for the iOS devices (iPod Touc, iPhone and iPad) you can search for apps by keyword or see lists of featured apps, etc.
The store is almost exctly like the iOS version in iTunes, allowing you to quickly buy apps you find. It helpfully knows which apps you’ve already installed (even not through the store) so when it shows me the listing for iPhoto, it says ‘Installed’ instead of listing a price.
A quick search for genealogy apps turned up three apps in the store when it launched. The three apps are MacFamilyTree, Family Tree Maker and Date Calculator. As I have all of these on my computer already, it wouldn’t show me the price of the apps which is strange. MacFamilyTree is offering a 50% discount for the next week through the App Store, but 50% off of what? I could go look at their web site to see what it normally sells for, but instead I’m going to follow the links Apple gives out for sharing each app, and on the web it doesn’t know I have the apps. So MacFamilyTree is selling for $24.95 (I guess normally it sells for $50), Family Tree Maker is selling for $99.99 and Date Calculator is $9.99.
Interestingly, Date Calculator is a utility that was created by the same company that makes GEDitCOM II for the Mac. I suppose that means GEDitCOM II is coming to the App Store soon as well. As Date Calculator is free to users of GEDitCOM II (who buy it from the company’s web site), I wonder how that will work in the App Store – will companies be allowed to bundle apps together like that? Time will tell. Also, I don’t remember exactly, but I though Date Calculator was free in the past. Did they possibly make it a paid app just for the App Store? Does anyone remember if Date Calculator was free?