Posted by Ancestry Team on August 28, 2012 in Mobile

We’re really excited about the new version of our iPhone and iPad app. We hope you like it as much as we do!

Let’s take a closer look…

First you’ll probably notice that we have a new look to the entire app. Hopefully you think it’s as warm and inviting as we do 🙂

The new family tree viewer

Below you can see a new family tree viewer. The idea is to make interacting with your family tree more like interacting with a map or a photo. Pinching zooms in and out. Swiping moves the entire tree. We also wanted to show more relatives. The old viewer only showed direct lines, but this new viewer includes an option to show grandchildren, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Some users miss the old version of the tree viewer and have expressed concern about it being no longer available. We’re listening to this feedback and are working on improvements they are requesting (for example, we plan to remove grandchildren from the Pedigree View in the next update to make it easier to see your whole tree). But we hope that your experience is the same as ours has been – the new viewer requires some time to get used to, but once you’ve spent some real time with it, we think you’ll fall in love with the additional functionality and intuitive navigation. Play with it for a while and let us know what you think.

Working with the new family tree viewer

The top arrow in the image below is pointing to a “new person node” that can be tapped to add a new person to your tree. The green node at the bottom is the person who is currently selected – the relationships shown in the tree are built around this “focus person.” If you tap on someone else in the tree, their node will turn green and the tree will redraw with them as the new focus person. If you tap on the focus person again, a panel slides out with their personal information. This panel includes hints, life events, family members, photos, and evidence (records).

The viewer shows 2 generations below the focus person (grandchildren) and 3 generations above the focus person (great grandparents). To see more generations above or below the current focus person, simply tap on a person near the top or bottom of the tree.

See the green shaky leaves below? These are hints that may lead to valuable records for that person. If you tap on the leaf itself, you’ll be taken directly to a list of record hints for that person.

Toggling between the Family View and the Pedigree View

The icons in the green rectangle below allow you to toggle between two modes in the tree viewer.

The icon on the left is the Family View that shows siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins.

The icon on the right is the Pedigree View that shows direct ancestors only.

Using filters to sort through people in your family tree

The “3 bar” icon in the top left of the screen opens a list of all the people in your family tree. If you begin typing in the search bar, the list below automatically updates based on what you’re typing. This is very helpful if you are looking for someone specific in a large tree.

In addition, by tapping “All People,” you have access to a variety of useful filters. For example, Direct Ancestors will update the list of people to show only people directly related to the tree’s home person, and the End of Line filter helps you find areas of your tree that need more research.

The bottom two options will show a list of people in your tree that have hints or only those that have received new hints in the last 7 days.

Where was I? Getting back to where you started.

Imagine that you’ve been randomly tapping on people in a very large tree and have gotten lost. We have a couple options for you… One is to hit the back icon. This will take you back in time (by changing the focus person) until you recognize where you are. Additionally, because you’ve read this far into this long blog post, here’s a little secret: tap on the back button and hold your finger down for a couple of seconds. A history menu will pop up that shows you a list of people you’ve looked at, starting with the most recent.

In addition to the back icon, tapping the home icon will take you back to the home person.

Trees, settings, and support

By tapping on the tree name at the top of the screen, you’ll get a menu with 3 options: Family Trees, Account Settings, and Support.

Family Trees shows you a complete list of trees that you have access to based on the username you signed in with. The tree currently displayed in the app is noted with a checkmark. Trees that have been downloaded to the app have an arrow in a green circle next to them. Tapping this circle allows you to change settings for that specific tree, including privacy, notifications, home person, and the ability to designate who you are in the tree so that the app can show you how you’re related to anyone in the tree. If you want to see a tree that hasn’t been downloaded, just tap it. We’ve worked hard to speed up the tree download, so unless you have a super giant tree, it shouldn’t take too long.

Account Settings allows you to see your membership information, displays your user name, and allows you to log out. If you do not have a membership, you can access membership options via the app by tapping here.

Support allows you to send us a suggestion, email our support personnel, or call our amazing folks in Member Services.

Well that about covers it. We really hope you enjoy the new app. We’ve worked hard to provide a great family history experience for the ever-growing number of customers with mobile devices.

Spend some time getting familiar with the new version and then let us know what you think…  What do you like about the new app? What new features would you like to see next?

Thanks for your support!

-The Ancestry Mobile Team

Don’t have an Apple iOS device?  Don’t worry, we have an Android app as well.

For more information, or to download either the iOS or Android app, visit


  1. Sharon

    Change is painful, and I am having a hard time adjusting to the changes in version 4 of the iPad app. This tutorial post is very descriptive, easy to understand, and gives me hope that I might even end up liking version 4 better than the older version. Thanks!

  2. bneish

    @Scott and @Sharon – Thanks for your support. I really hope you find the app super fun and useful. We’ve been using it for quite a while internally and have really grown to love the new interface.

    @Irwin – We’re planning on adding some kind of “family view” functionality to Android, but we have a couple of other higher-priority features we’ve got to get done first, so I don’t have a specific timeframe for you. However, stay tuned for the next Android release – it’ll be great!

  3. Wendy

    Hi I downloaded the app for first time on thurs. this seems to be the version unless you’ve upgraded since then?

  4. David McJonathan

    This new version “might” be good on the iPad, but at this point I will not upgrade there because I am so unhappy with it on my iPhone. I automatically upgraded on my phone, because so far I’ve loved everything that you’ve done with the app, but I wish I’d been warned that the traditional horizontal pedigree would be eliminated! I would not have upgraded.

    Is there a way to go back to the previous version? I think this new view should be an option not the only way. I like the vertical view for descendants on the computer, but the iPhone screen is just too small for this to work, in my opinion.

    Thanks for your efforts, but I hope that we can get the traditional horizontal pedigree format back for at least the iPhone and I think it should be an option for the iPad as well.

  5. Jan

    I like the new app. (Why are you even thinking of removing grandchildren?) Just have one improvement request….I frequently upload photos to my trees. It would be nice to have the option to make a new photo the “primary” photo for an individual without having to go to the website to accept that option. Being able to do it right from the app would be great.

  6. John Atkins

    I agree with Jan #9. I like it better than the old version.
    However, having to sometimes switch to the website for pics, etc. is clunky.

  7. bneish

    @David – Thanks for your feedback. Sorry you’re not loving the new version. We’re working on some ideas to make it better and we hope that it will eventually work for you. Keep watching for updates. Unfortunately it’s not possible to revert back to a previous version.

  8. Kristin

    Please, please make the Android app like the iPhone/iPad app! I want to be able to really use it on my tablet. Thanks!

  9. bneish

    @Jan and @John – Here’s how to change the “primary” photo of a person in your tree from the app:

    1. The primary photo for a person can ONLY be changed to a photo from your Camera Roll or Photo Stream, OR a new photo you haven’t taken yet. (Note: Unfortunately this means that you can’t swap the primary photo with another photo that you’ve already uploaded to and is NOT in your Camera Roll or Photo Stream – we’re working on changing this in the future.)

    2. Go to the Info tab for the person whose primary photo you want to change.

    3. Tap “Edit” in the upper right hand corner.

    4. Once the “edit” page loads, tap the photo.

    5. Tap “Take Photo” to take a new photo and make that your primary photo, OR tap “Choose Existing Photo” to select a new primary photo from your Camera Roll or Photo Stream.

    6. Fill out whatever information you want on the photo metadata, tag any additional people from your tree who are in the photo, and tap “Done” in the upper right hand corner when you’re done.

    Hope this works for you…

  10. BEE

    Oh! I feel like a dinosaur! This is like living in a foreign country where I don’t know the language!
    I guess that makes me “of a certain age”, and not up on electronics, and even less on electronic “jargon”!

  11. Duane Warren

    Hate the new App, I love the old one and utilized the horizontal pedigree nearly 100% of the time. I am on for hours each day and you have just cut my productivity in half!!! Continuity is a great thing… You must have missed that memo. I use my IPad and PC simultaneously. Now with the different (less functional) format on the IPad they look nothing alike and you have rendered my IPad virtually useless. Please allow people the option for the old format. To change this with out warning is negligent!!! I would have never updated to this current, inferior, option-limiting design!!! If tries to move to this format, I will start shopping for different software….this is so frustrating I may do so anyway!! Prior to this I have loved everything about and have promoted it to many people. If this isn’t addressed those days are over. I know I am one person but I will not be the only one who had a very bad day when updating my App…..miserable day……Thanks!!!!

  12. Vikki Riley

    This new version 4 is awesome. I like so much better than the older version. You use the new version as much as I do it dose not take long at all to get used to it.

  13. Marco

    Sweet new look. I really dig the new tree view, and I’ve only upgraded my iPhone. I bet it’ll be even better on my iPad.

    Two suggestions to consider for the future.

    First, I use this app when I’m walking around in cemeteries and need to look information up on my tree. It would be killer to photograph a headstone (which the iPhone stamps with GPS data) and attach to my tree, extracting the GPS data to a custom field, description, etc. (Ideal location would be part of the place structure as defined in GEDCOM 5.5.) It’d sure be nice to do that without an internet connection too. I’m sure I’m not the only one out in rural cemeteries.

    Second, I take my iPhone and/or iPad with me whenever I visit archives, the FHL, etc. I live by my task list that I make in FTM. It would be super helpful to have that list integrated into this app (or with for that matter).

    Keep up the good work!

  14. Marco

    Duh! I forgot to include the most important detail in my suggestion above regarding GPS. The whole point of having the GPS data would be to facilitate locating a grave using your app. Perhaps it can envoke the map app similar to when you click on an address in your contact list.

  15. Cindi

    I waited for 2 weeks and drove 45 minuts to be able to accdess records from a library that has unlimited time on their computers. (Your fee for Inernational records is a little out of my budget). I arrived to find your site down while you work on some exciting changes. Gee guys…THANKS…Been 2 hous now and I am still hopeful but fading here. I guess money talks.

  16. Rosemary Jones

    Search from member trees is down and the idiot message says to come here to report it.

    Silly place to report it in my mind.

  17. Donna Goodwin

    Rosemary 23 , how true. Been trying to use search for 20minutes, and now there is no way to email support that I can find, think they lost it?????? Dont have time to deal with phones. Sorry just upset I cant use Ancestry.

    Time to get rid of them????????

  18. Larry Daniel

    After just a short viewing it appears to me that the new App is a great stride forward. Quick and easy with more information. Well done!

  19. John

    Please give as the option to display horizonal pedigree. We need the old format, most researchers use their pc and their iPad.

  20. Jeff

    I am extremely disappointed with the new interface. I too loved the old horizontal pedigree and made great use of it to navigate while conducting research at various libraries. The form factor of the iPad is just too small to make the new interface functional for the type of research I do. I do not need, in fact do not want, pictures associated with everyone in my database, especially when using the app as a research tool as I used to do. But, no more.

    I have no problem with vendors adding features to their applications, even ones I will never use, knowing full well that others can take advantage of them. Not only can I not take advantage of the new look, but it has completely dissolved its utility for me. Please bring back the original pedigree view as an option. Quickly!

  21. Rob

    The app is frozen on the search for Home Person on my Iphone. I type in a name but it can’t find any name. I can’t get to any other screen on the Ancestry App.

  22. Roger

    A great app spoiled by not supporting Safari. Why oh why dump the user out of the app into the Windows based program to “Search” when only Safari is supported on the I-pad and Safari is not supported by Ancestry? Safari looks OK at first but can not hold a log in to Ancestry so you spend half your time Logging back in!

  23. Matt

    I have a suggestion that I hope you’ll put into affect.

    I made the mistake of trusting random family tree’s years ago that were badly put together and I now have some off 1,000 family members in my tree who quite honestly are ‘not’ family.

    I’d be very appreciative if you included a feature in the iPad and iPhone app that allowed me to slide across the name and click “delete”. Then it prompts you whether you really want to do this. It should also have an option “don’t ask again” for those like myself who would like to delete those 1,000 ancestors like spam emails.

    Please consider implementing this! Thank you.

    Also, if there already is a way to mass delete (or delete quicker) multiple people, could you share it?

  24. Robin

    I like having the option to view more relatives on the iPad but like others, I don’t like not having the option to view my tree from horizontally. It’s my default view on AMT and FTM so having it different on the iPad is frustrating. And I especially think it is not functional on the smaller screen of the iPhone.

  25. GaryJ

    Just tried the new version, and I’m liking it! I’ve just been too busy with life to focus on doing my tree, but with a handy app like this, I may even sign up for premium access on the site – the free preview of records is awesome.

    However, I’m running into an issue somewhere:
    1) Open app, pull down a tree.
    2) In app, add a new person (in my case, a child of the home person / me).
    3) Person record has correctly appeared on website, but even after syncing, the app family tree viewer doesn’t update to show that person.
    4) Search name of person in app, find an entry, not listed in correct alphabetical order, but it’s standalone, not listed as a relative to anyone.

    And while I do use photos, I could imagine that those who don’t would really appreciate an option not to show the default placeholder when no photo exists – a pink or blue stripe with a different texture (for colour-blind users) across the top of the name would save space.

    I look forward to version 4.1.0 🙂

    • bneish

      @GaryJ – Sorry to hear about your issue. I haven’t seen anything like that before, so I’m not sure what’s going on. But we’re happy to look into it. Watch for an email from us.

  26. GaryJ

    Just as a note for future readers, bneish sent me an email as promised, and is taking feedback to help the devs narrow down the problem. Kudos for actually taking the time to follow-it up!

    If you’re adding new entries to your tree via the app, and they don’t appear in the main family tree viewer, then (as a temporary workaround) log out (top central dropdown -> Account Settings -> Logout) and log back in again. The app will download a fresh copy of the tree, and your new entries should now be appearing.

  27. I have to echo some other users: I really miss the horizontal view. I do love the new powerful options I have, but I’d like the horizontal view as an option. For certain research tasks, presenting information to others (which I do often with my app) in a linear fashion, and my general comfort, there are times when I’d rather use that. Adding another button with the horizontal view as an option, even if it’s not the default, would be great. (And, it sounds, answer some of our concerns.) As a rule, I think adding function is a good thing. It’s removing function that can frustrate users. Thanks for your excellent work on the app! It might be a little bigger as an app if you retrofit it with the old horizontal, but I for one would really like to have that back as an option in addition to the slick and thoroughly enjoyable new views. May I suggest that adding toggles for things like grandparents in pedigree, rather than removing it outright, will help users make the app work in the way that they so desire!

  28. Valerie

    I was just at the archive and using the app for the first time since the update. It was convenient to have my family tree on my phone and click around to find dates. The previous updates have all been great and the app is really useful. However, I got really frustrated with the new tree view. I can’t get a horizontal orientation and couldn’t figure out how to get rid of all the “extra” kids. I just wanted direct line view. When a couple has 10+ kids (like they tended to back in the 17′ & 1800s) it takes more than a few swipes to get across the screen. Back and forth, up and down. I might as well have printed out a pedigree chart – it would have been faster.

  29. Kelly

    I absolutely love the new app, in particular the new family view (and the choice to view pedigree only) and how easy it is to review hints (especially the original documents). I use the app so much more now than in the past. I’d love to see a search function integrated into the app rather than being directed to the website, which doesn’t function very well on the iPad. It would be great to be able to review search results in the app in the same way you can now easily review hints. Thanks!

  30. mrs

    I much prefer the old format. I think the new interface is a bad design. The new app requires more scrolling because there is more dead space on the screen. I should be able to opt out of having photos included. I would rather see information than headshots. I want options on information to include, like I have when printing out a pedigree chart. This display is more like a grandma’s brag book.

  31. Jason

    I have to chime in just to say that I prefer the old format. I am not adverse to trying to new one, especially on the iPad, but I refuse to upgrade right now because I accidentally upgraded my iPhone and I am not happy with it.

    I don’t use the app much for research yet, but I would like to start and am concerned by the complaints raised by others in the comments.

    I sincerely hope that the request for adding the horizontal pedigree view is added as an alternate option. In my opinion that would make this app perfect.

  32. Jane Harrell

    The choice of your home person and who you are in the tree no longer “sticks” in the latest ipad app. This really needs to be fixed. Without it, I can’t use the relationship calculator and when I hit the home icon, it doesn’t work as I have set it

  33. cinda lester

    When or where are these same search filters available on the desktop version? I love having them on the app, but it’s frustrating I can’t do the same on the computer.

  34. Helen

    Don’t really see the point of the app without a search function other than to show other people the tree…….I end up opening my browser and using the website as I can search records from there……a much needed function for the app in my opinion, then it would actually be useful

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