Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Stepping into the Next Generation

Recently I wrote about my quest for and purchase of a smart phone. These past few weeks since purchasing the Android Bionic, I feel like I have stepped straight onto the starship Enterprise. Captain Picard, beam me up! This little futuristic device is changing my genealogy life and I would like to share with you how.

First, my absolute favorite feature on the Android Bionic is (you are not going to believe this - well maybe you will), the microphone dictation option that appears whenever the little keyboard pops up. Instead of typing out a text message, blog post, blog reply, or anything else that normally requires typing on that tiny screen, you can select the microphone and dictate your message a little bit at a time. Honestly, I giggle every single time I use this feature, which is a lot. For me, it's a huge time saver. You can also edit pretty easily if something doesn't come out just right.

Second, here is a list of the Apps I installed and began using just as soon as I had taken the little Verizon training class, which by the way, was incredibly helpful:
  1. Google Reader: This is the most used feature on my phone. In fact, I actually prefer to do most of my blog reading this way now. It seems like I can identify the most interesting posts faster and then read and respond to them (using that little microphone feature of course). The only drawback is articles containing hyperlinks that I would like to bookmark (I still use Internet Explorer for this). I'm feeling pressure to get that Genealogy Toolbox set up so hyperlinks can be accessed from whatever device I'm using.
  2. Evernote: I love having access to my notes anywhere and being able to add them directly into Evernote on the fly.
  3. Dropbox: Now I have instant access to most of my genealogy files. Also, I discovered that after taking a photograph on the Android, I can put it in Dropbox for later drag and drop transfer to the photos folder on the main computer.
  4. Blogger: I haven't used this one much yet other than for posting comments. I am looking forward to being able to create some blog posts using this app.
  5. Adobe Reader: Pretty self explanatory.
  6. The Weather Channel: Besides everyday uses, there's no more worries over how to prepare for weather when visiting that cemetery.
  7. Facebook:  I think this one is pretty self explanatory :)
Some highly used apps that came on my Android that have or will come in handy for family history endeavors:
  1. Gmail: Since just starting the ProGen program, all of the ProGen related emails have been read and dealt with quickly wherever I may be. Any of the attachments can be saved directly to my ProGen folder on Dropbox. How's that for organized?
  2. Browser and Map: I probably don't need to elaborate too much on these other than to say I'm really happy to have them.
  3. Quick Office: This app has Quickword (the equivalent of Word), Quicksheet (Excel), Quickpoint (Power Point) and Quick PDF. I haven't had too much of an opportunity to make use of any of these other than Quickword (briefly) so I'll write about how I use them for genealogy some other time. But with Dropbox, I envision anything I create using Quick Office can be saved to Dropbox and synced with my other devices. No more forgetting which device that document is stored on.
I'll be writing more in the future on my family history related experiences using the Android. I'm curious, how do you use your smart phone (Android, iphone, etc.) to help with your family history and genealogical endeavors? What are some of your favorite apps?

Disclaimer: I was not asked to write about or paid or given anything by any of the companies mentioned in this article. These products I use and either pay for with my hard earned money or use a free version.

Artwork by ~d-gREg
© 2011, copyright Michelle Goodrum


  1. OK, now jealous! Recently discovered, to my dismay, that I don't have a droid phone afterall, WHO KNEW??? Instead I have a windows phone. Evernote is not available, SIGHHH

    Next phone, I will research better! LOL

  2. I have a Droid. I recently purchased "CamScanner" which allows me to take pictures of documents, crop them, save as PDF, and email to my desktop.

  3. Michelle,

    Evernote and Dropbox are the best. Keeping Genealogy notes is really helpful. I had a Dr. appt the other day and he wanted to check my Meds. "Here" a note in Evernote.

    I have basically the same Aps, plus Find-A-Grave (beta but helpful) and RestingSpot, 2 cemetery Aps.


  4. GeneaPopPop, I've heard about the CamScanner and had wondered about it. Thanks for the tip.

    Russ, I hadn't even thought about Find-A-Grave! I'll check into RestingSpot too as I'm not familiar with it.

    Thank you both so much for the information!

  5. Hi Michelle, I also learned of G-Whizz which works better on iPhone but is available on Droid. I downloaded to my droid to try it out. It combines Gmail, Google+, Google docs, Google Reader, Talk, Calendar, Task list, Translate, etc...It is a bit slow to start up, but once it's open it's fast. It's not called G-Whizz in the market though, it's called Google Applications. And when you install it, there are 3 different screens. The first is a square with 4 apps in it (Google + is not available yet to add to this screen), then you can click on the paw to bring up a list of all the apps (again google+ is not in the list), then when you go back to the 4 square and sign in with Gmail for example, it will bring up Gmail, but also a 3 or 4 other apps in tabs across the top and you can switch between them. Kinda cool, but I think they might still be working through some bugs for Droid. In the iPhone app, you get notifications when you have new messages or notifications like in Google+, but I do not see that in my Droid app yet.

  6. Other handy apps are BillionGraves and Twitter. Of course I always get whatever apps are available at conferences (the one for the SCGS Jamboree was SUPER), and at museums and archives. Ask at the front desk of any archive (there are ones for NARA and for some libraries).

  7. Thanks Ginger. I was just thinking about Google+ on my Droid.

    Heather, I was aware of the apps for conferences but not for museums and archives. I can think of a couple of places where that might be handy.