By Mark Mietkiewicz
Since it was launched in July 2008, Apple’s App Store has become an industry leader for downloading apps (applications or programs) in this case for use on the iPhone, iPod Touch and now the iPad. The store currently has over 150,000 applications written by third-party vendors which have accounted for over three billion downloads. [bit.ly/happ01]
Not surprisingly, if you do a bit of searching you can find plenty of Jewish and Israeli content in the App Store. And although it is called a “store” some developers are happy to create free apps just because they’re proud of their work and wanted to share. Today, we’ll sample some free Jewish apps.
Don’t let Dovid Zikind’s iPhone page deceive you. It looks quite plain but there is a wealth of material there. There is a free, downloadable Chumash & Rashi (with English translation), several holiday guides and for a fee, the complete mishna and gemara. While there are many texts geared toward the Chabad community (Tanya, HaYom Yom, the 12 Pesukim), there are free siddurim that cater to Ashkenazim, Edot Hamizrach as well as Lubavitchers. [bit.ly/happ02]
• iSiddur also provides many variations of the morning, afternoon and evening services as well as Birkat Hamazon. [bit.ly/happ03]
• iPray delivers all 150 Psalms in a clear, Hebrew-only interface. [bit.ly/happ04]
• iMasoret gives you much of the above along with some novel twists like the lyrics for popular holiday songs and even direct links to holiday videos from YouTube. Most of the prayers are in Hebrew although there is some English translation. I just wish the interface were a bit more consistent. [bit.ly/happ05]
Once you’ve downloaded some siddurim, you may want help to know the proper time to recite various prayers. iZman calculates prayer times, or Shaot Zmaniot, used by Jews worldwide to determine when to pray. As the product info page explains, “users can select their location from a predetermined list, or use their iPhone’s GPS to automatically give them prayer times based on their geographic location.” [bit.ly/happ10]
If you are looking for apps that are slicker and more sophisticated, and are willing to put your money where your iPhone is, there are plenty of Jewish apps that range in price from 99 cents to $30 or more. The best two places to browse are JewishiPhoneCommunity.org and the Jewish iPhone feed on Twitter. [bit.ly/happ06]
One of the leaders in commercial, Jewish-themed iPhone software is RustyBrink Inc. I give the company credit because it provides a number of free apps too.
n Shabbat Shalom – Check candle lighting and havdalah times for the week in any location in the world. This is a great app.
n iPhone Shofar – Click on the shofar sound you want to hear, Tekiah, Shevarim, Teruah or Tekiah Gedolah. Have a blast.
n Menorah for iPhone – Do you forget every year whether to light the Chanukah candles from left-to-right or is it right-to-left? This app will guide you nightly and teach you the blessings too. [bit.ly/happ07]
Not surprisingly, Jewish food-related apps are quite common. Let’s say you’ve enjoyed your meal and you want to wait the prescribed amount of time between meat and dairy. Just start your ParveOMeter. The countdown clock will tell you when it’s time to indulge. My only qualm is that the app has very limited preferences to allow customization for various community traditions for waiting. [bit.ly/happ08]
Some apps try to do almost any function you can think of. Others are determined to focus on one goal only. I would say that the KosherFish app falls into the latter category. When you activate it, you are presented with a very, very long list of kosher fish. With this app in hand, never again will you have to walk away from your local fishmonger wondering whether you can feast on Jewfish, Mozambique faithful to your heritage. You can. [bit.ly/happ09]
Next time, more iphone app freebies for tourists to Israel and lovers of Hebrew.
A reminder: I use “bit.ly” in my column to shorten what are often extremely long web addresses. Just type the address I provide into the space at the top of your browser – NOT the Google search box – hit enter, and it will deliver you to the proper site.
Mark Mietkiewicz is a Toronto-based Web site producer who writes, lectures and teaches about the Jewish Internet.