Talking Tech: Family tree apps for the iPad – LiveHistory

Continuing my series on family tree apps for iGadgets, this week I’m reviewing LiveHistory.  If you’re just tuning in, I’ve previously reviewed GedView and Heredis.

LiveHistory is still considered a fairly young app.  I can’t recall where I learned about LiveHistory at, maybe FaceBook, maybe a blog post on another blog, but they were still looking for testers for their app.  Which leads me to my disclaimer for this post: The developers of LiveHistory were kind enough to provide me a free copy of the app to look at and review.  I make every effort to ensure my posts are fair and unbiased whether I pay for the item (in this case, the app) or it is provided to me at reduced or no cost.
So, as I said, LiveHistory is still a fairly young app.  There are actually only two reviews in the App Store for it (one of which, I will say straight out, I completely disagree with and I believe it to be entirely too harsh as it almost solely focuses on the interface and can’t seem to get past what the reviewer considers to be “ugly”).  And it’s important to remember that LiveHistory bills itself as more than just a genealogy app, it also adds biography functionality to its repertoire.

Okay, enough of that, let’s get to it!

The Good:

  • I can’t say how much I love that LiveHistory has included an adoption field.  Not enough apps and programs have this as an option.
  • Also fantastic is the occupation field, venue field and residence field!
  • The forecasting is an unique option.  I haven’t decided if I’m completely sold on this functionality or not but it’s a nice option to have so I’m listing it under “Good”.  It could potentially be helpful, but I can also see where it might be limiting for new or unaware genealogists.  I would caution genealogists who use this app to only use this option as a tool to guide you on what time period to look in and to not simply rely on the forecasting as being set in stone.
  • The ability to drag out the pedigree chart and have the chart expand is a nice feature.
  • The notes option on each event screen gets an A+ (note: these screens are a little difficult to find, the event screens utilize the iGadget swipe screen functionality)
  • And LiveHistory hit it out of the park when they provided the option of selecting the type of household (joined or on own) and providing fields for beginning and end dates to that!  Just WOW you guys!!!!!
  • Re-ordering items in this app is SO easy.  There are multiple name slots offered and being able to re-order those easily was an exciting discovery.
  • Relative age mode…GREAT!
  • Another home run is the option to search by first name, nick name or last name all in one place.  YEEESSSSSSS!!!!!!!
  • The GEDCOM import is quick and easy.  I had just over 3,600 individuals to import and the import only took between 5 and 10 minutes.  LiveHistory provided a good set of instructions with a tip to make sure the iPad didn’t go to sleep.

The Bad:

  • Okay, I’ve just got to say that the lack of reports is really, really, really, REALLY BAD.  You can’t have a genealogy app without at LEAST pedigree charts and family reports.
  • Once I imported my GEDCOM file, the middle names in my family file imported with the first names, which I don’t like.  There are blanks for middle name so maybe it was due to the type of GEDCOM I used or the way it was exported but it would be nice if the names went where they were supposed to.
  • Another item that “mashed” together were the dates and places of an event.  These are important items in genealogy and should have separate fields.
  • It’s really a necessity these days, with so many blended families, that being able to list children as biological, step or half siblings be included in a genealogy app.  It’s hard to think of everything to include but these are biggies.
  • WHERE is the in-app help????  How about an in-app instruction manual or even just a link that directs you to the app website where the manual could be located at!  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is a BIG deal for me.  I’d rather have a great help section than pretties or bells and whistles.
  • There are NO fields for LDS users.  Not including these fields is a BAD choice because not having these fields will deter LDS members from using this app and the data stored in these fields will go nowhere when a GEDCOM is imported.  Again, really bad since many other apps offer these fields as an option.
  • Um, where’s the export feature?  How can I share my genealogy with others if I can’t export to GEDCOM???
  • A cancel option needs to be added when entering a new person or making changes, just in case the user makes a mistake.

The Ugly:

  • Yeah, the interface?  Really ugly LiveHistory.  Now that’s not enough to keep me from enjoying the app but it could use some work.
  • It would be really nice if, when there’s a swipe screen option (of which there’s several), that the bubbles at the bottom of the screen indicating that screen had a swipe screen option were a more contrasting color.  I had to look at the FAQ to discover this, whereas if the bubbles had just been a better contrast I would have been able to figure that out.
  • Suffix field.  In my opinion it’s necessary (again I’m a stickler for fields for everything important and suffixes can be important in genealogy).
  • There are no customizable settings.  The app is pretty much cookie-cutter at this point.  There is definitely potential for a future update to allow customizations though!
  • Let’s talk about the search/name column at the left.  How about making that collapsible?  Does it really need to be visible at all times or can you collapse it to make more room for the individual information and pedigree view.  As a matter of fact, maybe the LiveHistory developers should consider the possibility that including three different screen views on the not-so-large screen of the iPad isn’t the best layout they could have opted for.  How about making it just the search screen and pedigree then being able to switch to the individual view.  Add a couple more toggle buttons at the bottom for different options and open that screen up so you can see more information.  That pedigree view can be a little hard to see past about three generations with the screen the way it is now.

Recommendations not necessarily falling in the above categories:

  • I appreciate that LiveHistory is including such labels as “Life Partner” in their field, however, I would like to be able to choose between “Spouse” and “Life Partner” for a field.  While I agree that only allowing spouse is too limited, the flip side of that coin is that life partner is too limited of a label as well.  Make that field able to be changed from one to the other.
  • A small inconvenience but I’d like to be able to set a preferred spouse.
  • An option I’ve seen in other apps is a field for an organizational reference number (a number a genealogist might assign to an individual when organizing their paper files).  I love this option and would love to see it included in a future update since many people use some type of code when organizing their paper genealogy files.
  • With this app you have the ability to browse by time period.  I’m torn on whether I like this or not.  It’s a unique feature and has a nice slider bar that you can adjust to filter what you see by date.  I think I just need to get used to it so I’m classifying it as not Good but not Bad or Ugly either.
  • Another feature I’d like to see (from any of these genealogy apps) is the ability to import GEDCOM files from online storage sites such as Dropbox, Google Docs or Box.

I would recommend this app for new- to mid-level iPad users.  I would rate it as being just barely behind GedView and it’s not so advanced it may become confusing for users.  I anticipate LiveHistory will become much more developed in the future as the developer gets more constructive feedback from users.  There is great potential here and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with this app in future updates.  While it’s not my favorite app out of the four I’m reviewing, it has the potential to become my favorite and I’ll continue to use it.

LiveHistory is a great mixture of a genealogy database and biographical information database.  If you’re planning to write a genealogy book or family biography this would be a good app to check out.  The price is a little on the high end in my opinion, I just think there’s too many things lacking in the app to justify the regular price of $7.99.  They are currently offering a promotional price of $6.99 but I’m not sure that slight discount would sell me on trying it knowing what I know about the app.

Again, I want to stress that this is still a fledgling app with a great deal of potential.  Keep your eye on this one because I’d wager that there will be some great updates coming down the line!

Overall grade: B+

About Danni 116 Articles
Join me on my genealogical journey where I hope my experiences, discoveries, mistakes, and successes will help you on your journey. We'll throw in some bits of history for a little flavor and that is what makes up Talking Box Genealogy.


  1. Thanks for the review. The LiveHistory developers followed me on Twitter, and I was curious enough to follow back to see what they were all about. I have a new iPad and the only genie app I've tried is Ancestry.

    • Glad to be able to provide some information for you. I've also reviewed GedView and Heredis and next week I'll be doing the last post of the series unless someone finds another app they'd like me to review!

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