Ancestry: Discover Your Family Story

I don’t want to be cheesy, but families are like boats on top of an ocean. Just when you think all is fine and dandy and start enjoying the sunrises, sunsets and the sea breeze, they tend to rock like crazy for no significant reason. No doubt, it’s highly annoying, but without those boats, many would have sunk a long time ago.

Beyond a couple of generations, it might get tougher to keep track of who our relatives were or are and how exactly they fit into our family picture. So, it is a good thing to start charting out all our family members from both the past and the present to preserve our family legacy. Ancestry.com is a pioneer in helping build family trees online.

You never know where or when you’ll make a new discovery. That’s why they have an app to carry with you all the time. After the break, let us check out how to create a family tree using their companion Android app.

Getting Started

Sign Up Screen and Country Specific Domains

Sign Up Screen and Country Specific Domains

The app is a free download from the Play store, but you will need a Ancestry.com account (which is not free) to start using it. If you don’t have one, click on the Sign Up Now button to create one instantly. Selecting a country specific site (if you live in the right geographic area) will make things easier for you when building the tree.

Help Wizard and Tree List

Help Wizard and Tree List

It’s great to a see a help wizard, which shows all the things you can do with the app. Unfortunately, the screens don’t carry any helpful descriptions or titles, rendering them useless.

Accessing a Sample Tree

As soon as you create an account, a new family tree will automatically be created with you at the top. You can start building on that or create a new one altogether from scratch. And for those who want to see the app in its full glory, I suggest checking out the sample tree: a comprehensive family tree of the John F. Kennedy family with a total of 90 members.

At first glance, the tree looks simple enough, but once you use your finger to see in detail one branch after another, the elegance of Ancestry will start to grow on you. The navigation is fluid, effortless and intuitive.

Sample JFK Family Tree

Sample JFK Family Tree

Tiny thumbnails and the years on earth beside every member makes for an interesting read from a bird’s eye view. Tap on a name to view the details of a person – and there are plenty, right from the birth date, to relocation, marriage and more.

The amount of information archived behind the tabs is unbelievable. From spouse to children and siblings, every relation in the family tree is displayed and tapping on them takes to a dedicated profile of the person in question. Then there are tabs for publicly available documents and images of the person too. Sadly though, the app doesn’t properly respond to the Back button; instead of alternating between the tabs I had accessed earlier, it always went back to the tree view.

Creating a Family Tree

Both public and private family trees can be created with Ancestry and it’s as easy as toggling the radio button. I tried creating the family tree of Will Smith (you gotta love him!) and found it to be an absolute blast. When adding a new member to the tree, there are just a few fields to fill (the first and last names, and birth and death dates).

Creating a New Family Tree and Adding More Information

Creating a New Family Tree and Adding More Information

Now, when you add other members, the app auto suggests the relationship and assists you link the appropriate person to it. This step helps keep things less confusing and doesn’t overwhelm you on a tiny screen. A new member can be inserted or deleted at any place in the tree by using the plus or minus signs on the top left corner.

Further familial details of a person can be entered by tapping on their name in the tree and by adding the details from their profile page. You can’t add any documents yourself, but images can be uploaded either by taking a photo using the camera or by uploading from the gallery.

Final Thoughts

The Android version of the app is a perfect tool to build, update and show off your family tree on the go. Whether you’re scouring the research library or getting together to share family stories with relatives, you should never miss a chance to add to your family tree with this handy app. Irrespective of whether you’re a family history beginner or expert, this app makes finding and learning more about your ancestors fun and easy.

The most annoying thing about this otherwise useful app is its inability to respond to the Back button. Instead of going back a step, the app does all kinds weird and unpredictable things, including closing the app. And then there is the frequently appearing login screen. One of the perks of using a native app instead of a web app is that you don’t have to submit the login credentials ever so often, but the Ancestry app seems not to care about that much.

Ignoring these glitches and taking into account the awesome web app to ease things along, I would give Ancestry for Android top marks. It’s like having your entire family tree in your pocket!


Summary

An excellent app for compiling a family tree, unfortunately let down slightly by a couple of interface glitches.

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