I am thinking of purchasing a tablet, and I wonder what genealogy apps are available for tablets. I use two genealogy programs, Legacy and Family Tree Maker. Do you know if either of these programs would be viewable on a tablet? Because of their costs, I am leaning towards either a Nook Tablet or a Kindle Fire, but I am not sure if either of these would permit me to download my information and use it in a library, Family History Center, etc. What do you think?
I will give you two answers: a short one and one longer one.
The short answer is:
Neither of those tablets will run any genealogy applications unless you "jailbreak" them to run the full Android operating system. That procedure has several drawbacks, including the loss of warranty.
The only tablet that is useful for genealogy programs without modification is the Apple iPad or possibly one of the more full-featured and expensive tablet computers that run the Android operating system.
The longer answer is:
The Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet both are aimed at the book/video game/movie download market, not at the computer tablet market. Both of them are capable of running programs, but with some limitations. Neither of them is as powerful as the full-featured Android and iPad iOS handheld computers. They are optimized as ebook readers.
Neither Legacy nor Family Tree Maker has a version that will run on the Nook Tablet or the Kindle Fire nor on any other Android or iOS tablet computers. However, most tablet computers do have web browsers. If you are within range of a wireless network connection, you can access a web-based genealogy application. However, my guess is that most tablet computer owners will not be happy with that solution. None of the web-based genealogy programs look very good on a 7-inch screen.
With both the Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire and with almost all other tablet computers, you can use your present desktop or laptop genealogy program to create “electronic printouts” of your program’s reports as PDF files, copy those files to the tablet, and then use it in a library, Family History Center, or any other location. Again, my suspicion is that most genealogists won't be happy with the results. If you simply want to view your data about the ancestors you are researching, perhaps this solution will suffice. However, it will only display your data in the report format you used to create the PDF file. Looking at PDF files isn't nearly as satisfying as running a true interactive program when at the library or Family History Center.
Both the Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire run modified versions of the Android Operation System. In both cases, the producers of those tablets have blocked access to the normal Android App Store. You can only download programs from the Nook App Store or from the Kindle Fire App Store respectively. The last time I looked, neither of those App stores had any full-featured genealogy programs available although I do expect that to change eventually.
NOTE: The Kindle Fire does have several applications that deal with genealogy, but none of them are full-featured programs that store your family database in the Kindle Fire and allow you to access it when at a library or archive. However, some of them do provide access to online databases stored on the web. You can see the latest list of available genealogy "applets" for the Kindle Fire at http://goo.gl/8Sc9T. Again, all of them are small "uilities" or programs designed to access online databases. None of them are complete, free-standing genealogy programs.
Both the Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire can be "hacked" in such a manner that the specialized versions of Android operating system are replaced by generic Android. Once that is done, the tablets will be able to access the normal Android App store and install true genealogy programs, such as Family Bee or GedStar Pro.
The drawbacks of "hacking" include the probable loss of the warranty from the manufacturer. In addition, the technical skill required may be beyond the capabilities of some owners. The technical skill required will vary, depending upon the method of hacking selected.
I was able to hack the Nook easily by purchasing a new microSD memory chip with the Android operating system pre-loaded, inserting the chip into the Nook's external memory slot, and rebooting. The process was simple. I suspect that anyone can do that. The Nook then ran the generic version of Android, and I was able to download and install a genealogy app from the Android App store. However, I soon discovered that the Nook runs a lot slower when running from a plug-in memory chip than it does when running from internal memory. It was so slow that I eventually removed the microSD memory chip, re-booted, and returned to normal Nook operation that did not include a genealogy application.
Another method of loading Android apps into a "locked down" system such as the Nook or the Kindle Fire is to "sideload" them. I haven't tried this myself. After reading the description of sideloading, I believe that some technical skill is required although you don't need to be a guru. If you are interested in sideloading, I'd suggest you start by reading the article and watching the video on AndroidCentral at http://www.androidcentral.com/sideload-android-apps-all-you-want-sideload-wonder-machine
In my mind, modifying or hacking a device of any sort always includes some drawbacks. I'd suggest the better, simpler, and more effective method is to purchase a tablet computer or cell phone that is designed to have all sorts of third-party programs installed, including genealogy apps. Admittedly, this is usually a more expensive solution.
At this time, the leading handheld candidates for using genealogy apps are the Dell Streak tablet, Samsung Galaxy Tab, the T-Mobile SpringBoard with Google tablet, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer, the T-Mobile SpringBoard, the Apple iPad for Apple's iOS operating system, and a wide variety of "smartphones" (cell phones that include complete computers). All of these run the Android operating systems except for the devices made by Apple. The Apple products use Apple's iOS operating system. If you search online, you can find many more Android tablets although most of them are lesser-known devices.
The Apple iPad is by far the most popular tablet computer. In fact, Apple sells more iPads than all the other tablet manufacturers combined. This popularity is reflected when comparing genealogy apps in the Apple iPad App store versus those in the Android App store: the iPad also has many more genealogy apps than does the Android operating system. You can read more about the iPad apps in my recent "Genealogy Programs for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad" at http://goo.gl/GmH7d.
I am not aware of any genealogy applications for Blackberry or other tablet operating systems.
In short, anyone who wants to use a full-featured genealogy program on a tablet computer needs to purchase an Apple iPad (which has many genealogy programs available) or one of the "leading handheld candidates" listed earlier that run Android (and will then be limited to only two or three genealogy programs). However, none of these choices can match the low prices of the Nook Tablet or Kindle Fire.
I own an Apple iPad, a Nook, and a Kindle Fire. Of the three, my preference is the Apple iPad. It is very popular, has hundreds of thousands of applications available, including a dozen or so genealogy applications, and is very reliable. As stated in the Apple ads, “it just works.” However, the iPad is by far the most expensive solution.
In pondering a new technological tool, it would be wise to remember that all of these more powerful tablet computers also have many, many uses besides genealogy. I'd suggest you evaluate ALL your needs before making a purchase decision.
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