Tip of the Week: GenomePad

feature_gpI discussed iPhone apps that would be useful for biology earlier this year and we’ve added one or two since. There is a new one now that I’m definitely putting on my iPhone, GenomePad. This is an iPhone app that creates an easy-to-use interface to the UCSC Genome Browser. Today’s tip is a quick introduction. Since I don’t have iPhone screencast capability, I’m going to quickly describe the basic functionality of the app below in a few screenshots. The GenomePad people also have a short video with an video introduction.

Opening GenomePad on your iPhone will bring you to this simple interface where you can do a search, view your bookmarks or past in a location. I’ll show here a simple search.


First you touch either the location box or the genome menus to start your search. Choose an assembly (I’ll chose human, 2006). The application gives you the iPhone ‘wheel’ interface, making the use easier than trying a web interface to UCSC:


Add the term or location using the iPhone text interface. I’ve added “clock.” Then touch “Search.”


You’ll get a list of records with your search term. The iPhone app automatically goes to landscape view for better viewing. I’ll tap the first link:


You’ll now be in the UCSC Genome Browser with the same web interface you have on your computer (see some comments below). For more information on how to use this interface, you can view the UCSC Genome Browser tutorial here. There is an icon that allows you to email results.


Below the graphic interface is the annotation track controls where you can add or change the track views.


An iPhone menu allows you to add and change the annotation view. Click “Done.”


The new track shows up. You can click on the annotation tracks to view details.


The details page shows up. You can browse back and forth to previous pages with these buttons.


The GenomePad is a great resource and I’m glad to see the app available (free btw!). It is an early iteration. The iPhone navigation interface makes searching easier and it has a few nice features that could be useful (like emailing yourself a location of interest to look at later). I would like to see something in the future where the genome viewer and details pages themselves are reconfigured to be more iPhone-friendly. Perhaps a simplified graphic with pull-up navigation menus. At the moment it is a iPhone skin on the web browser. Perhaps that is the kind of development that needs to be done by the UCSC team and beyond the scope of outside developers? I’m not sure, but it sure would be nice.

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