After attending RootsTech 2015 I was excited about the continuing advances in Family History Tech. However, I was looking for more. I feel the industry needs new and exciting ways to engage people of all ages and all skill levels with their family history. In particular I saw the potential to leverage mobile technology and the power of social networks to engage younger generations in family history research.
What it does
The Family Nexus mobile app integrates with a user's FamilySearch account to automatically plot life events of her relatives on an interactive Google Map. By bringing genealogy to your fingertips in a familiar format like Google Maps it allows users to make surprising discoveries about their family.
The Family Nexus mobile app lets you instantly see all family life events that took place in a particular area, or you can search for a specific individual.
In addition, the app alerts you when you are near an event that took place in your family history, or on the anniversary of an event of an ancestor.
You will learn more about your ancestors and the events that shaped their lives. Plus, share your discoveries with your friends and family on Facebook and Twitter and increase your bond with family members living and dead!
How I built it
The app was built using Xcode IDE and Swift 3. We also leveraged Google Maps APIs and the FamilySearch API.
Challenges I ran into
An early challenge I faced was trying to filter all of my ideas and focus on the core functionality that users would want. Once I had decided on where to start I had to figure out how to monetize the app. Software development is expensive and without a solid business plan the project would never get off the ground. I attended a "Start-Up Weekend" which helped to vet and refine my ideas.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
The app interface is clean and intuitive to appeal to all ages. I am excited about the potential to engage people who are not researchers but want to learn more about their family history in "bite-size pieces."
What I learned
I had to recognize that I needed to identify my key audience and build an app that would appeal to them rather than trying to satisfy everyone.
What's next for The Family Nexus
We have an exciting road map for The Family Nexus with great premium content and features our users will love! At the top of the list is enhanced location information which will allow users to add more precise geolocation data about an event. For example, they could type in an address or move a map pin to the exact location where an ancestor was born or was married. We are also in discussions with key partners to provide GPS data for headstones or other events.
Right on its heels is a feature pack that will appeal to genealogy travel buffs. This will include a trip itinerary planner and additional map layers like churches, cemeteries, courthouses, and libraries!