- If you already have a BillionGraves.com account, tap Log In on the sign up page. Tap the username field and type in your BillionGraves.com username. Then tap the password field and type in your password. Tap Done on your keyboard and you’ll be logged in to the app.
- If you don’t have a BillionGraves.com account yet, tap Register on the sign up page. Tap the username field and enter your email address. Then tap the password field and type in a password you will remember. Afterwards you’ll need to type the password again in the last field so we can make sure what we have on file matches the password you want to create.
- Once you’re signed in, you’ll see the dashboard. From the dashboard you can see how many cemeteries you’ve visited and how many headstones you’ve uploaded to the database. If you tap on the Cemeteries Visited title, you’ll be able to see a list of all the cemeteries you’ve helped map out.
- If you ever need to return to your dashboard, tap the Dashboard button on the bottom of the screen (it’s the second from the right).
- When you first sign in with BillionGraves you’ll see five buttons: Take Pictures, Records, Cemeteries, Dashboard, and Photos. To start taking pictures, tap the Take Pictures button (the first button on the top).
- The camera will open. Hold your iPhone so the headstone and all its important information appears on the screen.
- Tap the camera icon on the bottom of the iPhone screen to take the picture (if you’re holding your iPhone horizontally, the camera icon may appear on the right or left edge of the screen).
- The screen will blink and a snapshot sound will play when the picture is taken. Once the picture has been taken, you can move on to the next headstone. (If in your app settings the option for Preview after Capture is set to On, you’ll need to review the photos you collect before moving on.)
- Sometimes you will need more than one photo to get all a headstone’s information (an obelisk may have more than one side, for example). To link photos of the same headstone, take a photo of one part of the stone. Then tap the broken link icon in the top left corner (bottom left, if you’re holding your phone horizontally). The icon will change to a linked chain and will be bordered in blue. The next photo you take will be linked to the last photo you took. After you take a photo the linking will stop. If you need more than two photos to collect all the information, you’ll need to link each photo individually.
- To exit the camera screen, tap the X button in the upper right corner of the screen (if you’re holding your iPhone horizontally, the X icon will appear on the top left corner of the screen).
When you’re taking headstone photos, the most important thing is to capture the information clearly. Here are a few tips to make photos easier to transcribe and use:
- Avoid your shadow falling on any part of the headstone. (This may mean you need to take the photo upside down, depending on where the sun is. Don’t worry—you can flip the photo right side up inside the app or on BillionGraves.com.)
- Make sure nothing is covering the headstone information (names, dates, etc.). Sometimes grass clippings, fallen leaves, or dirt can obscure the headstone. Brush it off before taking a picture.
- Include all of the important information in the photo. You may not be able to read the words on the iPhone, but on the website, with a larger screen, it will work wonderfully.
- Avoid the sun in if you can. You get the best quality photos at dawn and dusk, or when it’s overcast. You can’t always control the weather, or your schedule, but if you have a choice, try to avoid the brighter parts of the day.
Photo GPS Tagging
When you’re collecting headstone images, there is a colored bar along the bottom of the camera view that shows how accurate the GPS-location tagging on the images will be. The color indicates how good the GPS signal is (green is the best, red is not good at all). There is also a word describing the tagging accuracy that appears next to the icon. The accuracy will be Great, Good, Poor, or Not Accurate. If you can, try to get Good or Great tagging accuracy.
The BillionGraves camera is constantly updating the GPS information so you can always capture the most accurate information possible about the graves you’re visiting. This is great in terms of the information, but it takes some planning in regards to your phone’s battery. The constant updating requires a lot of battery power, and combined with the fact that sometimes it’s hard to see your screen outdoors unless you turn the brightness up, using the BillionGraves camera can drain your battery much faster than usual. If you’re out traveling, be sure to bring a portable charger to make sure you can collect as many photos as possible and still be able to use your phone for other things. Plan ahead and it shouldn’t be a problem.
- To view the photos you’ve collected, tap the Photos button from your home screen (it’s in the bottom right corner).
- A list showing the cemeteries you’ve collected photos from will appear. Tap on a cemetery to view the photos you collected there.
- A thumbnail collage of the photos you’ve collected in that cemetery will appear. If they’ve already been uploaded to BillionGraves.com, they will have an Uploaded tag on them. If two photos are linked, a chain icon will connect them to one another.
- If you tap on an image, you’ll see a larger version of it and you’ll have some options for what to do with it. From this view you can swipe your finger right and left across the screen to view different photos.
- To stop viewing photos, tap the icon with the cemetery’s name in it that is in the top left corner of the screen.
Once you’ve collected images and viewed them to make sure they’re rotated properly, it’s time to upload them. You can upload images individually, in batches by cemetery, or all at once. (If the Auto Upload setting is on—see “Change Your Settings” below—once you’ve reviewed an image it will upload automatically.)
- When you upload images, you’ll upload them by cemetery. Follow the instruction for viewing an image until you are viewing the list of cemeteries you have photos in. If you want to upload one cemetery’s images, tap the Upload button beneath that cemetery.
- If you want to upload photos from all the cemeteries you’ve visitedn, tap the Actions button (the box-and-arrow icon in the upper right corner of the screen). Then tap Upload All. If you’ve already uploaded a photo once, this will not upload that photo again.
- If your Prompt to Sharesetting is on, you’ll be prompted to log in to Facebook or Twitter and share your photo-collecting success with your friends.
After you’ve uploaded your photos you’ll want to delete them off your phone to save memory space so you can collect more. You can delete all the photos in BillionGraves at once, individually, or by cemetery.
- To delete all your photos at once, tap the Photos button on your Home screen. Then tap the Actions button (the box with an arrow coming out of it) in the top right corner of the screen. Select Remove All, then confirm your choice by tapping Yes.
- To delete photos individually or by cemetery, open up a cemetery’s photo collection. Tap the Actions button (the box-and-arrow icon) in the top right corner of the screen. Tap the photos you want to delete (if you want to delete all the photos in the cemetery, tap Select All in the lower right corner of the screen). Then tap Remove (the red button at the bottom of the screen). Confirm your choice by tapping Yes.
Finding a Cemetery
You can view nearby cemeteries, search for a cemetery, or add a cemetery that isn’t in our database from the Cemeteries view.
- To see the Cemeteries view, tap the Cemeteries button from your Home screen.
- A list of the 20–50 cemeteries nearest to you will appear. If you want to view a map of all the images in a cemetery, tap the cemetery’s name. A map will appear and all the pins on it represent a headstone image.
- To search for a particular cemetery, tap the Search Cemeteries bar at the top of the page. Type in the cemetery name and tap Search on your keyboard. (You can also search by city or county by tapping on the City or County buttons underneath the search bar.) A list of cemeteries matching your search will appear.
- To add a cemetery that isn’t in our database, you’ll first need to take your iPhone with you to that cemetery so its location can be accurately recorded. Tap Add a Cemetery at the bottom of the Cemeteries page (you may have to scroll down to see it if you have several nearby cemeteries already listed) or the + button in the top right corner of the screen. Then enter any information you can provide about the cemetery by tapping on the gray space next to Name, city, or Description. Tap the on/off switch where the screen asks “Are you in the cemetery?” If you’re there, it should say On. After you’ve finished entering information, tap Save in the upper right corner of the screen. Your iPhone will use your current GPS location as the location of the new cemetery. (If you are not in the cemetery, you can add it by recording the full address and location information.)
- If you are in a cemetery, a green pin icon will appear next to its name in the list. If you tap this green icon when your Prompt to Share is on, you’ll be prompted to log in to Facebook or Twitter and share your cemetery visit with your friends.
Viewing a Cemetery’s Map
- To view a cemetery with all the photos in it mapped out as pin markers, first find the cemetery you want and tap its name.
- A map view will appear. If it is zoomed too far out to actually see the cemetery, place two fingers on the part of the screen you want to zoom in on, and then drag those two fingers apart from one another across the screen. Keep zooming in until you’re as close as you want to be (or until Google can’t zoom in any closer).
- If you’re zoomed in enough to see the cemetery, but not close enough that the pins can differentiate themselves from one another, gray circles will represent a group of photos, and the number of photos in the group will display on the gray circle.
Changing Your Settings
You can change the default BillionGraves Camera app settings by tapping on the Settings button in the top right corner of your dashboard screen. To get to your dashboard screen, tap the Dashboard button from your Home screen.
- Auto Upload: If auto upload is on, images are uploaded to BillionGraves.com immediately after you capture them. To turn it off, tap the button that says On. This will toggle the option to Off.
- Auto Flash: If auto flash is on, your phone will use a flash every time you take a photo. This can often make photo-taking possible when you’re out at darker times of the day. However, it is definitely not perfect, so you should make sure to have Preview after Capture on as well so you can check your work before uploading it to the database.
- Preview after Capture: If Preview after Capture is on, after you capture an image you’ll see a preview of the image and have a few options: Retake (for pictures that are blurry or otherwise poor), Use (for good images), and Don’t Ask Again (which tells the app to use the images you take without asking for permission). To turn this option off, tap the button that says On. This will toggle the option to Off.
- Delete after Upload: If Delete after Upload is on, your images are removed from you iPhone after they successfully upload to the BillionGraves.com database. This can save memory space, which frees up space to take more pictures. By default it is off: to turn it on, tap the button that says Off. This will toggle the option to On.
- Save to Camera Roll: If Save to Camera Roll is on, the photos you take will save to your device’s camera roll as well as the BillionGraves Camera app. You may want to do this if you want to use the images personally as well as contribute them to our database. However, this can take up a lot of memory space on your disk if you take many photos. By default it is off: to turn it on, tap the button that says Off. This will toggle the option to On.
- Prompt To Share: If this feature is on, you will be prompted to share your BillionGraves photo-collecting and trasncribing on Facebook and Twitter. To turn it on or off, tap the on/off switch next to the option.
- Version: This is not a setting you can change, but it tells you which version of the app you are currently using.
- Email Us: If you have any comments, suggestions, or questions, feel free to email our support team. Tap the Email Us option in your app settings. A draft email will appear that inputs our email address and a helpful subject. Tap the body of the email to type your comment. When you’re finished, tap Send (in the upper right corner of the screen).
Using Records View
Since version 1.2 of the app there has been an optional $2.99 in-app purchase to unlock the Records View expansion bundle. If you have unlocked the bundle, you have access to additional features.
- Mobile Records Search: You can search the BillionGraves records database by first tapping Records (the third button from the left along the bottom of your screen) and then tapping in the Search Records field at the top of the screen. Then you can type an individual”s name (either the full name or just the family/surname) and tap Search on your keyboard.
- Find a Headstone: If you tap on a record you have found either through Search or through detecting nearby records, you will be able to see that headstone’s GPS location on the map, along with your current location. The record’s location will be marked with an orange pin; your location will be marked with a pulsing blue dot.
- Detect Nearby Records: When you first open Records View, it will show you a list of records with GPS locations that are within [X] feet of your current location. This can help you find other headstones of note when you’re visiting an unfamiliar cemetery.