12/18/2012. For an update on this app, see this post on the Family Search blog: The Mobile App—What We've Learned.
The Church has released an early beta version of a new mobile app—FamilySearch Indexing—for iOS and Android platforms. You can start indexing right away by downloading the app. Just search for “familysearch indexing” in the iOS App Store or Android Market.
In order to use the app, you must sign in with your LDS or FamilySearch account. If you don’t already have an account, you can easily create one here.
Once you download the app, sign in with your LDS or FamilySearch Account.
Indexing is the process of transcribing information on scanned or photographed historical records in order to create a searchable index. Without indexing, images of these historical records can only be browsed, making it difficult and time-consuming to find names of interest for family history.
A guide built into the app answers many common questions about indexing.
Snippets rather than documents
The FamilySearch Indexing app simplifies indexing by allowing you to transcribe individual names, or “snippets,” on your mobile device instead of downloading larger batches of names that must all be transcribed as part of a group. (You also have the option to view the entire document so you can see the name in context.) You can set a difficulty level and skip snippets that are too hard to read.
The app makes indexing fast and easy so you can do family history in smaller amounts of time. You can index while waiting to be seated at a restaurant, while on hold on a phone call, and many other times when you only have a few minutes.
You can also index offline when you download more snippets into your queue. By default, you’ll store 25 snippets in your queue, but you can increase the count to 500, or decrease it to 5. The only drawback to working offline is that you can’t see the context of the snippet in the larger document, which sometimes helps by letting you see how the writer may have formed certain letters.
Because indexing involves interpreting handwriting that is sometimes hard to decipher, it can be difficult to get completely accurate results. To increase indexing accuracy, the app requires snippets to have a 75% consensus to be approved, at least for the app’s initial pilot period. This means that three out of four people who index that snippet will need to agree before it can be indexed. That number may be adjusted later as genealogists determine the most effective confirmation rate.
The app is still in its early stages of development, but FamilySearch will be working to enhance the user experience of the app and also add more features. Some of these features include giving administrators access to reports, keeping track of all indexing users have done, and more.
The FamilySearch Indexing app shows how effective crowdsourcing can be in furthering the work of the Church. People all over the world can index names easily and effectively, which in turn makes it easier for others to search for and find information about their ancestors for genealogy.
Indexing is an easy way to get started with genealogy, and maybe after trying the Indexing app, you’ll have the momentum you need either to continue or start doing your own family history.