Tuesday, April 25, 2017

23andMe new Explore Your DNA Family coming soon

On or about April 24, 2017, DTC personal genome company 23andMe began advertising yet another "ancestry tool, "Explore Your DNA Family," scheduled to be released in near future. The new announcement is on the  23andMe products/ services page (which you can view here). Currently there's no timetable on the tool's release but it's "Coming Soon" according to 23andMe. New testers will reportedly receive the feature with their results, and I assume the rest of us will be updated shortly thereafter. [See new **UPDATE APRIL 28, 2017 below.]

23andMe's "Explore Your DNA Family" apparently allows customers to see an anonymous list of their genetic relatives (who also tested at 23andMe) plotted on a map of regional origins. According to 23andMe, the tool encourages users to Opt-In to DNA Relatives (the actual list of your genetic matches) to fully explore the ancestry shared with their "genetic family." This new tool has the potential to be extremely helpful for adoptees and those looking to find and/or piece together their biological genealogy.

The only two graphics shown so far are the first (above) and last screen-shots utilized for this blog. I can't really glean anything from them in terms of functionality of the new tool; supposedly there was a blog post but 23andMe allegedly removed it.

At this time it's unclear if "Explore Your DNA Family" will entice 23andMe's customers to join DNA Relatives. It has been problematic wooing them in the past because 23andme's rather cumbersome invitation system requires customers to Opt-In to participate in DNA Relatives; a sizable portion of 23andMe's customers are primarily interested in health, and customers with a strong interest in genetic ancestry rarely take the extra effort to invite relatives to share test results or to contact them for any reason.

Even now with DNA Relative's "Open Sharing" feature — 23andMe testers can automatically see and compare their genetic ancestry reports and overlapping DNA segments with all of their DNA relatives (read more at here) — customers rarely take advantage of it. Perhaps customers participating in Open Sharing will be shown in an  "Explore Your DNA Family" display of matches. [See new **UPDATE APRIL 28, 2017 below.]

Of course I'd much rather 23andMe work on: 
  • updating its Ancestry Composition tool and Haplogroup predictions, including the outdated genomic build platforms (23andMe is on build 7 while Build 17 was released February 2016); 
  • restoring our ability to see the Chromosome Paintings of people with whom we're sharing;
  • implementing an in-house family tree utility; 
  • adding an "Ethnicity" segment element to the chromosome browser/mapper tool where customers can see displayed the location, size AND ethnicity(s) of shared DNA segments. ...  For example: bring back or incorporate the outstanding Countries of Ancestry (CoA) tool, but just limit the customer's view to the DNA Relatives with whom they are sharing; previously we could see the CoA's of all our relatives and any 23andMe customer sharing profiles with us. Here's a screen-shot of the now retired CoA tool:

**UPDATE APRIL 28, 2017
From the 23andMe's Forum Moderator: 
Hi everyone,

As some of you have noticed, we’ve released a new report, Your DNA Family, to a small number of customers. Those of you who do not yet have access to this feature will see it under the Reports tab in your account shortly - I’ll post an update once everyone can view their DNA Family report. 

Using Your DNA Family, you can see:
- Where your relatives are located around the world.

- How many of your relatives have ancestry from a particular region. For customers who had results on the old website experience, this is similar information to what was shown in Countries of Ancestry.

- See what traits your relatives are likely to exhibit compared to other 23andMe customers. 

Let's see what the future holds...


  1. I also would love for them to do a in house family tree, the one they had when I tested was horrible and then they transferred to myheritage and in my opinion it is not much better.
    Also when I first tested there was a place to make notes on matching profiles now there is nothing.

  2. Totally agree with you the changes you'd like 23andme to work on and to especially bring back the CoA tool!

  3. On your final points of recommendations, I second, concur, and stamp with a resounding YES!