Using a Samsung Galaxy Tablet for genealogy, and other things

Reading Geniaus‘ recent post, Addicted to the Tablet, got me thinking about what I have found my Samsung Galaxy Tablet useful for so far.

I have had my Tablet now for about 5 weeks and during that time have added, and deleted, many apps to try them out. Most are free, (I admit to being ‘cheap’), and most are not particularly useful and are quickly uninstalled. My main reason for buying the Tablet was to be able to easily take a copy of my family tree with me. I don’t have a complete copy of my family tree, or my husband’s, on the web (I haven’t taken the plunge and properly published our trees), and I wanted something lighter than my laptop to cart it around on. I already had an Android phone that I love, so it made sense to buy an Android Tablet. To view my family tree files I have purchased (after trialling a number of different apps) the Family Bee app and am very happy with it. It does everything I need, except allow you to edit as you go, but you can make notes and email them to yourself or upload them to a Dropbox account to make changes to your data later. I found it was the easiest genie app to upload a GEDCOM to. Some other apps make you convert the file and are more complicated, Family Bee is very straightforward.

Other useful apps are simple things like Google Reader, Twitter and Dropbox. I’ve now installed the Dropbox app on my Tablet, phone and also access via my laptop, and have found this to be very useful for backing files up, but also for being able to share photos and files with other people. I have setup a number of separate files and ‘invited’ individuals to have access to those folders only. One folder contains scanned letters and photos from my husband’s Indian ancestors that I can easily share with a distant cousin in England, rather than trying to email or post copies to.

For web browsing I have mainly been using the Skyfire app, but am now giving the Firefox app a trial too after Geniaus’ mention in her post. My Tablet is WiFi only, so I generally use my phone for navigating with Google Maps and Navigator, however both work well on the Tab when WiFi is available. The Tab being WiFi only has been ok up to this point because most places I go, (and I don’t really go very far!!), have WiFi that I can log into. We have it at home, work, and many of the cafes etc I tend to go to. Admittedly, I am probably going more to places now where I know I can get WiFi access, even if I don’t end up using it. (It is almost as important as the coffee!)

I love the size of the Tablet, as it fits very well in one hand and makes a great ereader once you have downloaded apps such as Aldiko (good for pdfs too), Kindle for Android, Kobo, and Moon+Reader. The size of the Tab also means it easily fits into most handbags, which unfortunately also means I didn’t have an excuse to by a new handbag – didn’t think that one through!

Two other apps I have found useful are Power Note, by Diigo, and Evernote. At this stage I have mainly used Power Note for saving bookmarks, and it is great because you can sync it and access all your bookmarks wherever you are. (The app is also on my phone so I can access bookmarks, notes etc on it as well – particularly useful when I can’t get WiFi on the Tablet). I need to do some more investigating of Evernote. There seems to be some overlap with Power Note, but one great feature of it is its ability to search the text on photos you take via Evernote. I was a little sceptical about this, but have found it works well.

Other apps I use on the Tablet include, Gmail, Facebook, Barcode Scanner (for downloading apps), BeamReader (for pdfs), LibraryThing (for books), and Snapbucket (for photos). There are a couple of widgets I have found useful as well, a battery widget that tells what % of power you have left, (it is more accurate than the blue bar at the top of the screen), and a WiFi toggle widget that quickly allows you to turn WiFi on or off.

I’d love to hear about other useful Android apps people have found for their Tablets and/or phones. Please recommend any, I’d love to try them out.

I’m extremely happy with my Tablet and think it does a great job, not only for genie-related tasks but also with other tasks such as bookmarking, web browsing, emailing, and being an ereader, camera, scanner etc.

Could I do without it? Yes, probably, but most reluctantly.


9 thoughts on “Using a Samsung Galaxy Tablet for genealogy, and other things

  1. Thanks, Tanya.
    I now have a few more apps to download and try. I am also cheap so haven’t paid for any yet but I guess I can afford $9.66 for Family Bee.

    • I have paid for Family Bee and 2 Dr Suess books for my little people. I figure I had to pay for a genealogy app eventually as this was the main rationale I used for buying the Tablet – still felt like I had to twist my own arm to do it! Worth it though. I’m very happy with it.

      Must thank you for the heads up that the Tablet was selling for $300. It has certainly been worth it. Have you seen the new, iPad-size Galaxy Tab? I imagine it is lovely, apart from the size. I love the size of this one.

  2. Happened upon your blog and love it! I am an amature to the field of famiy history (3 years), can’t find enough time to do everything I’d like. This working fulltime thing gets in the way :-).
    I love technology and am considering the purchase of a Android Tablet (ASUS Transformer Prime) for my Genealogy in lieu of a laptop. I use Roots Magic for my database and Picasa for storing my pics. I beleive Roots Magic is working on an App for android so eventually the tablet should be my main device. The only computers we currently have is my wifes laptop and my work laptop. I’m using GedStar Pro on my android phone and would use this on my tablet. Your article on the Galaxy Table for Genealogy almost has me convinced. I have no interest in a desktop computer as I like to be in different rooms of the house or outside when doing my internet research and documenting my finds. I’d like your thought on laptop vs tablet as I can’t afford both. I too use Dropbox and Evernote as well as DoggCatcher for listening to my podcasts and FX Camera Zoom for taking pictures with my phone of documents I come across. Not currently subscribed to blogs so adding you to the top of the list.

    • Hi Rick
      Thank you. I’m very happy you enjoyed this post. If you want to read more about using android tablets for genealogy check out the blogs by Geniaus and Shelley at Twigs of Yore. The tablet is great for genealogy, (and other things!), as great as it is though I don’t think I could manage without a laptop as well, mainly because the tablet is rather tedious to type a lot of text on. However if you were to purchase a tablet with a slide out keyboard that would fix that issue. (Does the ASUS Transformer Prime have a sliding keyboard?) The other thing I would keep in mind is if you will be able to edit your family trees on the tablet. If Rootsmagic gets their android app working well, then there may be no need to worry about a laptop.
      On apps, I’ve been using CamScanner for taking photos of docs and find it very good.
      I’m off now to try out DoggCatcher and FX Camera Zoom – thanks for the tip.
      I’ll be interested to hear if you buy an Android tablet and how it goes.

  3. Hi tanya
    Hubby offerred to buy me a new laptop but I figure that as there is nothing wrong with the old one maybe a Tablet. I have been looking at the Samsung Galaxy and they seem like the thing. Only want the Wi-fi one with the fab camera as I have a good phone already. Are you still using the tablet for genealogy?? I have been looking at the site for Family Bee and some of the comments were not all that good for the program? or is that all sorted out now?

  4. Has anyone tried using the camera on the tablet to take pictures of microfilm. I have used a camera with a text mode & had pretty good luck, but it would be even better if you could use the tablet camera!

    • Hi Shirley
      I haven’t tried and I don’t know of anyone else who has, but there is probably someone out there who has. Good luck. If you find someone who has done this successfully please let me know. :-)

  5. I just got a Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet. I have a 7 in. tablet and wanted a bigger screen (old eyes). I just got it so I’m still playing and learning. I have Legacy and FTM but i would like an editable family tree for the tablet. Ibought Families for my small tablet but it’s not easily editabe, lots of downloading and resyncing. Have you found that Family Bee is the perfect one?
    Il love the tablet idea and love this tablet. I have a Galaxy Nexus phone, so Samsung is a favorite.

    • Hi Peggy

      I can’t say I have found the perfect family tree app, I’m still looking. I also now have an iPad, the larger screens are easier on the eyes aren’t they. I have been using the Ancestry app and find it is ok, but there is still syncing etc to do with that to keep it up to date as I don’t have a ‘live’ tree on Ancestry. If you find an app that does it all, please let me know!


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