Monday, December 17, 2012

First Look at RootsMagic App for iOS Devices

The big news (for me, anyway) this Monday is that RootsMagic has released the FREE RootsMagic app for iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod).  You can see the announcement at RootsMagic App for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch on the RootsMagic blog.  The directions for how to download the app, and upload your database using iTunes or Dropbox are at RootsMagic for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch - Frequently Asked Questions.

I just had to try it out...since my tree is also online at  I downloaded the FREE RootsMagic app to my iPhone.  After reading the directions (it was hard because of the small screen - I used my magnifying glass!), I selected the Dropbox option.  Once I did that, an Apps file folder appeared in Dropbox, and I copied my whole RootsMagic 6 database into the RootsMagic file folder in the Apps file folder on Dropbox.  All 45 mb of it.

I followed the directions to upload the database to the iPhone.  This took about two minutes for my database.  Once it was saved to my device, I saw the home screen:

As you can see, I'm in the "View" screen.  The other screen options at the bottom of the screen are "Files," "Lists" and "Tools."  Up at the top left of the screen is a "Search" icon (the three horizontal bars) that take you to a list of persons and offers a search field.  I'm only going to deal with the "View" screen..

If you tap a  right arrow on the right side of the screen, then the pedigree chart advances one generation to the right:

From this screen, I tapped on Frank Walton Seaver's name to see what information is available:

It shows his name, picture, and birth, marriage and death information.  There are buttons below his name for "Set Primary," "Parents" and "Spouses."  Those can be used for navigation.  There is a "See Full Details" button below the vital records.  I tapped on that and saw:

It takes about 10 seconds to bring up the Fact list.  The "View" icon at the bottom of the screen can be used for navigation.  I tapped on it and saw:

I can navigate back to the Pedigree view, to the "Family" view, to the "Descendants" view or the "Individual" view.  Here is a picture of the "Family" View:

On this view, I can navigate to the spouse, to the parents or to any one of the children.

I tapped on Frank's name, and was back on his "Fact" view (three screens above). I tapped on the top item on the list "Click to view notes, media and sources" and the information on the "Notes" tab for the person appeared:

That's great!  Now I have access to my Notes!  I tapped on the "Sources"  tab and the list of sources for the person appeared (if there is more than one, use the list below the first one):

Note that this is a Source for the person, not for a Fact.  You have to tap on a specific Fact to get the Sources for that Fact.

I tapped on the "Media" button and saw the first media item and the list of Media items for the person appeared:

I went "Back" to the "Fact" list and tapped on the Birth Fact and on the "Media" button and he thumbnail view of the first document appeared:

I could tap the second item on the list above and see the second document, again in a thumbnail view.  Unfortunately, the document images can not be expanded to see details of the document.  RootsMagic stores the thumbnail image of the document or photo, not the actual document or photo image.  The actual images are in my file folder on my computer, and they were not transferred into the Dropbox folder - only the thumbnail images were.  

There are many more features to explore in this FREE RootsMagic app for iOS devices.  I'll take a look at some of them in future posts.

Suffice it to say that having ALL of this information in my pocket available wherever I am, with about a 10 second wait time, is fantastic.  

There will be a FREE RootsMagic webinar about the RootsMagic app on Tuesday, 18 December 2012  at 6 PM (EST), 5 PM (CST) 4 PM (MST), 3 PM PDT, 11 PM GMT.  Register at

My first judgment of this FREE app is that it is easy to acquire, is cheap, is easy to download your database, and easy to use once you master the navigation tools.  I rate it a 9 on a scale of 10 of genealogy Apps for usefulness on my iPhone, recognizing the size limitations of the screen.  RootsMagic has a winner here the first time out of the box.  Just in time for the holidays.  Thanks, Bruce and the RootsMagic team.

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Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Disclosure:  I was not paid to write this review.  Although I have received free stuff from RootsMagic in the past, that has not influenced this review.  I paid the retail price for my RootsMagic 6 upgrade in November.

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