From the FamilySearch Newsroom:
FamilySearch is a global leader in fun, online family history services with over 9 million users in 2017. In 2018 FamilySearch will be expanding its free site and services by adding new family discoveries, more online connections, expanded global reach, and millions of new sources to search.
1. Personalized Home Page
As new photos, stories, or documents are added by other members of the family, they will be shown on your personalized home page and prioritized based on relevance. You will also be able to see new additions as relatives add them.
Enjoy more adaptive, relevant FamilySearch Record Hints. As millions of new records are added to FamilySearch weekly, the search engine maps them with your family tree. FamilySearch will specifically begin looking for new ancestor record sources you don’t already have in your tree. It will be easier than ever to add them.
Relevant ancestor event notifications, if you want, will be able to prompt you throughout the year regarding relevant dates in the lives of your ancestors. These can be great nudges to learn more about your forbears.
2. Historical Records
FamilySearch will digitally preserve over 400 million images in 2018 and publish the majority of them online. It will also add hundreds of millions of indexed, searchable names in historical records, thus making it easier and faster to find your ancestors.
New additions will include prominent international collections from Europe, Central and South America, and the United States. New images will first be accessible in the FamilySearch Catalog Viewer. Once they are indexed or have additional metadata, they’ll be published in the FamilySearch Historical Record Collections.
3. Online Discovery Experiences
FamilySearch will introduce fun, new personal “discovery” experiences online and in additional physical locations in 2018. The online experiences will be similar to the popular attractions currently found in select FamilySearch Family Discovery Centers.
4. Family Tree
Refinements to the FamilySearch Family Tree in 2018 will extend its reach globally to more devices through improved language support and making the service faster and easier to navigate in lower bandwidth regions of the world.
An underlying goal of the FamilySearch Family Tree is to ensure new developments regarding data are always converging towards more accuracy and completeness.
An upcoming feature will help improve collaboration while encouraging more sound edits and discouraging poor edits to good data.
5. Family Tree Mobile App
FamilySearch will continue to update its FamilySearch Family Tree app and mobile experiences, which extend the website’s functionality. Currently, the robust app has 90 percent of the functionality of the web feature.
The app will provide fun, location-based experiences for making family discoveries wherever you happen to be. The popular 2017 “Relatives Around Me” feature allowed crowds or groups to discover who in the crowd was related to them and how.
New experiences in 2018 will build upon this, allowing interaction based on your proximity to people or locations with which you have a personal ancestral relationship.
The app will also continue to enhance the research capabilities of the mobile experience, including a new Research Mode that will allow multiple windows to be opened simultaneously to facilitate multitasking and research from within the app.
Individuals are now uploading millions of family photos and documents for free permanent storage at FamilySearch. In 2018, patrons will be able to add multiple photos to a family story, rather than just one.
The FamilySearch Tree Fan Chart will help patrons, at a glance, easily discover areas in their tree where memories and sources are attached to ancestors, and help them identify opportunities where they need to be added.
FamilySearch will end its desktop indexing software in 2018 as it continues to roll out more updates to its new web indexing platform. The new web tool is easy to use and works with any digital device (besides cell phones) with a web browser. It enables hundreds of thousands of volunteers worldwide to make millions of historical images easily and freely searchable by name so online family history researchers can quickly discover ancestors.
RootsTech, hosted by FamilySearch International, will continue to expand its support of community growth, personal development, and exciting industry innovation. This popular global family history conference will attract over 100,000 attendees (in-person and live online viewers).
Keynotes this year will include: Scott Hamilton, olympic figure skating champion, Brandon Stanton, Humans of New York photographer and writer, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Finding Your Roots. and Natalia Fourcade, internationally renowned Mexican pop-rock singer.
The RootsTech Innovation Showcase will highlight exciting innovations related to family history. It will replace the Innovator Summit and Innovator Showdown.
9. Oral Histories
Family history in oral (no written documentation) cultures are kept in the minds of village elders—walking, human libraries. When they pass away, the library is lost forever. FamilySearch will increase the number of oral histories it captures from these tribal historians significantly throughout Africa.
FamilySearch appreciates its growing customer base (over 134 million visits in 2017!). When you visit FamilySearch in 2018, be sure to sign in to your free account to enjoy the most of what FamilySearch has to offer. Come back regularly to add your own family memories. Enjoy the new content added daily and the new features coming soon. Collaborate with your family to upload your favorite photos, documents, personal histories, or journals from previous years, and update your ancestors’ stories.