Genealogy Apps for Android and Chromebooks

Android_tabletA newsletter reader read yesterday’s article of “Another Reason Why a Genealogist Might Want to Buy a Chromebook” and asked if Chromebooks can run Windows or Macintosh genealogy programs. I thought I would post the answer here in case other people have the same question.

The quick answer is “No.” Chromebooks do not run programs written for Windows or Macintosh or Linux or UNIX or other operating systems. Chromebooks today only run programs written for the Chrome operating system. As mentioned in yesterday’s article, a future release of the Chrome operating system will also allow most Chromebooks to run programs written for the Android operating system.

There are very few genealogy programs written for Chromebooks but many genealogy programs (or “apps”) are available today for Android, including apps from MyHeritage, FamilySearch, Ancestry.com, RootsMagic, BillionGraves, Find A Grave, and others. You can find a list of all the genealogy apps available for Android at https://goo.gl/EHvKPw. I assume that most of these apps will also run on Chromebooks once the new version of the Chrome operating system is released.

Please notice these Android apps are not identical to the programs available for Windows or Macintosh. In other words, RootsMagic for Android is not the same program as RootsMagic for Windows or RootsMagic for Macintosh. It is produced by the same company that produces RootsMagic for Windows and Macintosh but is a different program.

Android devices do not have high-capacity hard drives, powerful central processors, or large display screens. Most Android devices do not have keyboards although there are a few exceptions. They also do not run the Windows operating system. Therefore, Android devices only run programs, or apps, that designed specifically for the limitations of Android devices.

As mentioned in yesterday’s article, within a few months, most of the Android apps also will also operate on most Chromebook computers, the low-cost laptops that usually have full-sized screens and keyboards.

In the meantime, Windows programs will only run on Windows with one exception:  Windows programs will run on Macintosh, Linux, or UNIX systems that have virtual computing software installed. See http://lifehacker.com/5714966/five-best-virtual-machine-applications for information about the more popular virtual computing products. However, that exception does not apply to Chromebooks or to Android devices.

Macintosh programs only run on Macintosh.

Apple iOS (iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch) programs, or apps,  only run on Apple iOS devices.

Android programs, or apps,  today only run on Android devices but that will change within a few months when most Android apps will also run  on Chromebooks. Once the new version of the Chrome operating system is released, I expect I will test it on one of my Chromebooks and will write about my successes and/or failures here in this newsletter.

4 Comments

The question becomes: will the Android version of my genealogy program read my Windows-created data file? If not, there’s no point in purchasing a Chromebook for genealogy purposes.

I understand the appeal of a compact $200 device. But I wonder – how useful is it for serious researchers?

Chromebook’s lack of local storage is a deal breaker for me. Often in my genealogy travels I am out of wi-fi range, unless I want to purchase outrageously expensive data packages that rely on cellular connectivity. Also, the aggregate size of my genealogy files far exceeds what is usually offered in free cloud storage. (Call me spoiled, but on my research trips I want to have ALL my genealogy files on hand.)

I use a laptop/tablet hybrid (SurfacePro) – a fully-functional PC that offers the ultra-light portability and cloud storage of Chromebook, but runs any Windows program and has a roomy local drive that allows me to work offline with access to all my files. In case of theft, the hard drive is encrypted and the device can be tracked. I have no need for a secondary “travel” device that I would have to keep synced with a primary computer. SurfacePro and similar devices can be pricey, especially compared with a $200 Chromebook, but it’s all I need to buy.

(Yes, I realize that all my eggs are in one basket. Constant multiple backups are my insurance against loss/theft, malicious infection and hardware failure.)

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    —-> The question becomes: will the Android version of my genealogy program read my Windows-created data file?

    In almost all cases, the answer is “Yes.”

    For instance, the RootsMagic for Android app will read data from RootsMagic for Windows and from RootsMagic for Macintosh. All other Android genealogy programs are the same as long as you stay with products from the same vendor.

    If you want to mix and match different Android genealogy apps from different vendors, the answer will be “usually yes but with a few exceptions.” Most of the Android genealogy apps that are not part of a Windows or Macintosh suite of programs will read GEDCOM files that are produced by all of today’s leading genealogy programs.

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I am a major Chrome(books) user – I have an original (no longer supported) and three newer, including one touch screen model. I really appreciate this blog and the information you are providing. I have tested DNA genographic 2.0 next generation, ancestryDNA autosomal, upgraded to Family Finder, Y-111 and now have ordered the Big Y (FT-DNA). Results last 15th July so just in early stages of tree building.

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I run Crossover for Android on my Chromebook. I install RootsMagic for Windows in Crossover and can use the full Windows program with a Chromebook.

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