Zite app on iPad and Android tablet for genealogy

I was recently given an iPad to play around with to assess its possible application in the library I work in. I have a Samsung Galaxy Tablet, 7 inch, that I have been (mostly) very happy with, but am now finding myself challenged by my growing admiration for the iPad. At this stage though, I think the most attractive part of the iPad is the size of the screen, so before I go and buy myself an iPad I will be shopping around to see what larger Android tablets are like!

Anyhow, the point of this post is to mention a couple of iPad apps I have been playing around with that I thought might be of interest to others out there. One I have been playing with Zite, I first saw mentioned on DearMYRTLE’s blog. It is an app that aggregates news from the New York Times, as well as your own Facebook and Twitter accounts if you choose to set them up. The other social media app it will link to if you let it is Pocket, or as it used to be known Readitlater. (Aillin has written a great blog on Pocket, so I won’t go over its key points here.) Zite looks like a magazine and on the iPad is very easy to use and attractive to look at. The Android version is not as easy to use, and on the 7 inch screen is not quite as attractive, but as the Android app is only very new they are sure to be planning some improvements to it.

Zite is extremely useful because if you add your Twitter and Facebook feeds to it, and your Pocket items, you can read everything in the one place, and more importantly, share these items with others via Twitter, GooglePlus etc. Once you start using it, and by that I mean reading items, rating and sharing them, the app starts to build a profile of your interests and tries to feed more items that it thinks will interest you.

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The first screen shows the main page for one of the Sections I have setup, Social Media. There is an extensive list to choose from. The second screen shot shows the screen of an item that I was reading, including the share and ratings buttons that can be used.

I have more playing to do, but at this stage I think this is an app I will be keeping on both devices.

Has anyone else used Zite? Do you like it and find it useful? I’d love to hear from you.

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.