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               August, 2012

      Charles Hansen, Editor
      Caroline M. Pointer, Guest Contributor
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  My Secret World of Smartphones and Genealogy
  — Caroline M. Pointer

I have a secret to confess to you. I am addicted to smartphones and their apps. Additionally, I like to review apps, but I especially like to review ones that do not have genealogy in their description. Why? Because I figure anyone can type the word, 'genealogy' in the search box in the app store and find the obvious ones. Additionally, it is pretty easy to type 'genealogy smartphone apps' in the Google search box. That is not to say I do not like to review the obvious ones, because I do. However, I kind of like the challenge of taking a non-genealogy app and see if I can apply it to genealogy in some way to help me research more effectively and efficiently.

Therefore, I thought I would share with you 10 Non-genealogy Apps that I have on my iPhone that do not have the word 'genealogy' in their description, but can be used for genealogy-related tasks:

  1. Text Grabber + Translator - With this app, you can take a picture, or a scan, of a book, a document, or any other text with your iPhone camera, and it analyzes the text using OCR [Optical Character Recognition] technology. The text is then able to be read or edited on the iPhone. If need be, it can also translate the text into over 60 other languages for you. [For iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.]

  2. Dropbox - Save and sync files between your smartphone, your desktop, and your laptop with the popular online cloud storage service Dropbox. Never be without the files you need when out and about. [For iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry]

  3. eBay - I love going to antique stores to feed my compulsion of collecting ephemera, but I get busy. With this app, you can set-up alerts for different items like letters with surnames and locations on them, and it can notify you with the status of your bids. Thus, you can make the antique store come to your smartphone. [For iPhone & iPad and Android]

  4. Google Search - It is much easier to access Google Search through this app than opening up the browser in a smartphone. You never know when you might need to look up something on Google while researching away from your computer. [For iPhone & iPad and Android]

  5. Google Earth - With this app you can have the whole world in your hands when looking for where your ancestors lived. [For iPhone & iPad and Android]

  6. Feeddler RSS - I love reading blogs, especially ones about genealogy and technology (two of my very favorite subjects). However, I do not always have the time to read them while I am sitting at my desk. With this app, you can sync this app with your Google Reader account, and then read all your favorite blogs on your smartphone wherever you are. [For iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch]

  7. Scanner Pro - Copier lines at the library are a thing of the past when using this app. You can quickly snap a picture of the page (real or microfilm), adjust the corners on the screen with your finger, and turn it into a PDF document on the screen with your finger. Then you can email it to yourself. [For iPhone & iPad - not available on Android but there are some scanner apps for Android]

  8. The Weather Channel - You are probably thinking, "What in the world?" But how many times have you been caught at the cemetery snapping photos of tombstones and there was a rain drop? *plop* Then another. *plop* Then it began to storm? This little app will help you to avoid bad weather like that when you are tombstone hunting. [The iPhone comes with a weather app, but I'm partial to this one.] [For iPhone & iPad, Android, Windows, Blackberry, Kindle Fire]

  9. Clear - Like most people, I can get very busy, and my to-do list can get very long. However, I do not need a complicated productivity app to keep me organized. I just need an app that allows me to make a list of tasks, clear them off the list as I get them done, and then let me feel less stressed. This app allows this, and it is very easy to use. [For iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch]

  10. Dragon Dictation - How many times have you been out and about, thought of something fantastic that might be the answer to your brick wall problem, and then forgotten about it by the time you could write it down? Yup, happens to me all the time. Dictate your notes and ideas to this app for safekeeping. [For iPhone & iPad and they have Dragon for Email for Blackberry.]

Really, these smartphones are smart, but they are not really phones. They are handheld computers that have a phone option on them that I occasionally use. However, I am usually startled when the phone actually rings. I am always thinking, "Oh yeah. It is a smartphone." That probably tells you just how addicted I am to my smartphone, and now you know my secret.

       Caroline M. Pointer is a genealogist, a family historian, a writer, and an author of three main blogs. She has been blogging stories about her ancestors since 2009 on Family Stories. Additionally, she has been having epic results combining genealogy, technology, tutorials, and reviews on her blog Earlier this year she launched her newest blog creation,, to show genealogists, genealogical societies, and professional genealogists how to achieve their blogging and social media goals.

    When she is not blogging about dead people; showing others how to use technology to find dead people; or showing others how to blog about dead people more effectively, Caroline can usually be found in an antique store searching for papers, letters, post cards, tickets, photos, books, etc., once owned by dead people because she fancies herself an Ephemera Rescuer and Whisperer. She can be reached at

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