Friday, August 5, 2011

MyHeritage Family Goals and the FamilyConnect App for iPhone and Android

I recently noticed that MyHeritage has a new app for iPhone and Android called FamilyConnect. It is free to download from the App Store or Android Market. You need a log-in to use it, since it connects to your family tree there. The MyHeritage site is also free to use, although to store trees with more than 250 people and/or use more than 250MB of data, someone in the family needs to sponsor a paid subscription. If you set a Family Goal, which I'll talk about it in a bit, your family can share the cost of the site.

After you log-in to the FamilyConnect app with your MyHeritage log-in and select your family site from the list (if you belong to more than one site), it loads the most recent photos uploaded to your family website. From there, there is an option to save a photo you've selected to your phone, or share the photo via email with other family members on the website. I was actually glad to see that you can't share the photo on Facebook or Twitter, since my site is private and membership is by invitation-only. You can also take a photo to share on the family site or share one from your phone. The apps settings include the ability to limit who appears on the apps email contact list by how closely they are related to you.

This seems like a great start for keeping connected with your family through MyHeritage on-the-go. The app is very user-friendly, has a friendly, simple look, and ran quickly on my Motorola Droid running Android 2.2.2.

However, it would be great to see some more options, such as:
  • Viewing at least a few generations of your family tree on your mobile phone.
  • Being able to see the latest family newsletter from your phone through the app.
  • An option to use the MyHeritage message feature.
  • The ability to share videos as well as photos. 
  • An "invite family members" button.
Generally, it would be nice to see a "light" version of the site on the app, similar to a Facebook or Twitter app. Obviously, that kind of thing requires a great deal of development, so I look forward to seeing updates to the app as they are released. 

Another new feature on is the Family Goal. The option to set one up is on the left hand site of the home page once you log in. If you are already paying for a subscription on a monthly basis (as I was), you will have to cancel the plan in order to set up a Family Goal. I chose a PremiumPlus subscription at (unlimited data) $119.40 per year  as this is the only option that could fit all of the data on my site.

I was glad to see that the invitation to donate to the Family Goal was customizable, as I was already uncomfortable asking for money (however, the cost of the site had become difficult to pay on my own), and I didn't want my family members to receive a generic email.

The Family Goal ran for two weeks, and I'm happy to say that my family met the goal, so our site is paid for until next year. Thanks to everyone who donated, I really appreciate it! I do wish the Family Goal could have run for longer than that, to give me a chance to get in touch with more family members. Overall, I was very happy with it, and having the site up for another year is a big relief.

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