In February 2012, FamilySearch International quietly released an early version of a new mobile indexing application (indexing software for popular smartphones and tablet computers). Many volunteers were and are excited about the possibility of doing indexing from their mobile devices and the number of people downloading the app has surpassed expectations. We have received several questions regarding the new app and its future that are addressed here.
Question: How does the mobile indexing app work?
Answer: The indexing app displays image “snippets” from handwritten historical documents such as birth, marriage and death certificates, census forms and naturalization records. Each snippet contains a single name, date, place-name, or other relevant information from these documents. You simply transcribe (index) what you see in the image.
Question: What accuracy or quality model is used with this app?
Answer: To ensure quality and accuracy of the indexing submitted from mobile devices, the system compares your work with answers from other volunteers until a “consensus” is reached (currently 3 out of 4 matching answers at a minimum). This is slightly different than the traditional A key + B key + arbitration model that we use in the standard indexing system.
Question: What platforms are supported?
Answer: The mobile app supports both iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android platforms and is available for free in the Apple App Store and on Google Play.
Question: Do I use the same account for the mobile app as I do for the standard indexing system?
Answer: Yes. Remember, this app is in its early stages of development and is not yet fully integrated into the indexing system, which means that your mobile contributions will not appear in your history within the standard FamilySearch indexing software or on administrative reports. We plan to include this integration in future versions. Note: It is not necessary to have the desktop program in order to use this app.
Question: Is the work being done on mobile devices really going to be used?
Answer: Yes. In the current version of the app, you will see a combination of image snippets from collections that have already been indexed as well as from new collections. Reusing previously indexed snippets will help us determine the quality of results in order to make future improvements to the system. All of the work being done by volunteers on the mobile indexing app will eventually be added to increase the searchable database on familysearch.org.
Question: How is my mobile indexing work helping FamilySearch right now?
Answer: In addition to providing real indexing that will eventually be incorporated among the searchable records on FamilySearch.org, your efforts using the mobile app help to give “real world” testing to a product that we expect will be a key pillar in our future indexing program. This is testing that we could never simulate in a laboratory or software development setting.
Question: What is the future for the mobile indexing app?
Answer: FamilySearch will be working to enhance the user experience of the app as well as to add more features. Some of these features include giving administrators access to reports, keeping track of indexer statistics such as records complete and images skipped, as well as a tutorial on indexing with the mobile app.
We’d love your feedback. Send your comments and suggestions on the mobile indexing app to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your contribution to this effort, however large or small, is greatly appreciated.
This is one of six articles in a series of posts from the recent indexing newsletter: