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There’s An App For That

You can download an app to do just about anything today, like finding an alternate route home with less congested traffic, or tracking the miles you run around the neighborhood, or discovering who that artist is on the radio. There’s an “app” for that. There are also helpful mobile and web-based apps to help with family history. They are convenient and easy to use, they have amazing features and they are blazing fast.


Everywhere you go, you are connected. You can check your email at the grocery store, watch a YouTube video clip on the bus, check in on friends and family on Social Media while you are at the park, or add to your family tree while you are visiting with grandma during a family reunion. Having an app such as Ancestry or FamilyTree downloaded on your phone gives you easy access to your photos, charts, stories, and family tree so you no longer have to remember exactly how you are connected to your 3rd cousin, Maren. When your aunt starts telling a story about her favorite memories of the Howard family, you will be able to quickly tap and swipe to put a face with the name, and clearly see how you are related.

It is so much easier to add sources using the record hints in the Ancestry app on your phone. Just tap, tap, tap on your device. You can also easily zoom in and out with your fingers on your phone, so you do not need to pull out your glasses to see those tiny words on the screen. It is the best way to see the details of a census record. You can also use your phone as another screen, a second reference or resource for what you are looking for.


Some apps have features only available on the app itself that you cannot do with a regular computer. For example, Google Fit tracks your steps walked, calories burned, hours of activity, and more all day long without you even thinking about it. Your laptop cannot do that. GPS navigator sure is nice when you travel. BillionGraves is a genealogy app that is very helpful to see the actual tombstone of your ancestor. The app has a GPS photo feature that will capture the exact longitude and latitude of your ancestor’s grave as soon as you take a picture of it. How cool is that? The app allows you to pinpoint a grave marker and walk right up to it, even in the largest cemetery.

Another helpful app is Memories. It turns your cell phone into a recorder, so you can capture the voice of your Uncle Frank telling his story with that perfect mountain accent, without carrying around all that recording equipment. Just pull out your phone, and tap to get started.

A wonderful feature of the Ancestry app is the List View. You can search or sort by a specific surname you are working on and see all the relatives listed together, regardless of your relationship to them. This is a great way to stay organized and prioritize what you have left to discover on a specific family name.


Have you ever tried to rent a movie on a weekend at Redbox, only to discover that particular movie is no longer available? When you download the Redbox app, in a split second, you will see your “chick flick” at the next closest location. You can even reserve it for pickup. Another example of a lightning fast app is Shazam, something that will surely blow your mind. No matter what song is playing on the radio (even if it just started to play or is just about to end) just tap Shazam and immediately know the artist and title of the song playing. You can sing along to the lyrics, buy the song, and find out when they have a concert in your city.

Relative Finder is just as amazing as the other apps we know and love. It is a web-based application that will automatically scan your tree on FamilySearch and within seconds, chart out exactly how you are related to your friends, and all kinds of famous people. This one is a lot of fun, and can get just about anyone interested in family history (even the teenager in your family that pretends this is boring). You may uncover that Steve, a good friend at church, is your 4th cousin, something you would have never likely known. Thank you apps!

As you discover the convenience, features, and incredible speed of your favorite family history apps, you will soon realize that you can download an app to do just about anything.

Ryan Henrie Ryan Henrie

Ryan loves genealogy and helping others as a consultant at his local family history center in Pittsburgh. He has added over 2,000 ancestors to his tree in less than a year and has set a goal to help over 150 local residents to find at least one ancestor.

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    1. Isn’t Relative Finder the best? That one really blows my mind.

      I also recently discovered that the Family Tree app has a “Record Hints List” feature on the list menu. I am not aware of another way to browse through a list of the hints on, so when I only have 15 minutes, this is a great way to go.

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