The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

iPad Apps Galore

The other day, a parishioner, apparently after seeing me praying the Liturgy of the Hours using my iPad, asked me if there were many other useful apps for Catholics. He had just purchased his own iPad and didn't know what was available. I was in a bit of a hurry at the time, but I did mentioned a few of my favorites to him, and then promised to address the subject soon on my blog...hence this post.

As a bit of a techno-dweeb, I have to admit, I find some the new technology not only easy and fun to use but also remarkably useful. I've had one or another version of the iPhone for several years now and have owned an iPad 2 since that version was first released by Apple. Both get frequent use and I now rely on them for many of the tasks that fill my days.

The iPhone is a terrific phone, but for me a bit too small for web browsing, watching movies, reading eBooks, or anything but the simplest kind of data entry. It's handy when you need to search the web on the fly for a specific piece of information, make a brief note, find a nearby restaurant or the lowest gas prices, or check a specific Bible verse. I also use its GPS functionality on occasion. This was especially handy on our last trip to Europe and helped us considerably as we roamed the streets of large cities and tiny villages. It's always nice to know where you are. But since acquiring an iPad, I seem to use the iPhone more for phone calls and less for everything else.

A lot of folks complain about the iPad's on-screen keyboard, but I've had no problem with it. Even with my large fingers, I'm able to type rather quickly without too many errors. Indeed, I'm writing this post using an iPad application called, BlogPress. This particular app makes it easy for me to write and post to my blog wherever I happen to be, as long as I have a WiFi connection. (I was too cheap to buy the 3g version of the iPad that requires another expensive AT&T data plan.) The BlogPress app, though, was very reasonable and cost only $2.99.

Note: You will find all these apps at the App Store on your iPad. Just search for the name of the app and then purchase and install it.

Another app I use often is Apple's mobile device word processor called Pages. For $10 It provides me with a reasonably functional word processor that lets me create a document when I'm away from home, convert it in MS Word format, and email it to myself so I can edit it, print it, whatever...on my home PC. I find it especially useful for writing homilies when I'm not at home.

I've never counted the number of apps I've downloaded to my iPad, but there are a lot, probably a couple of hundred. Most were free downloads that sounded good at the time, but I've rarely if ever used. I need to delete the majority of these and free up some of my 32 GB of memory. But many of the apps on my iPad I use almost daily and these are the ones I will share with you. Most are "Catholic" apps.

iBreviary Pro Terra Sancta HD. This is a free app, that includes the Liturgy of the Hours. Using it I can pray the Church's daily prayer on my iPad without having to take my breviary with me wherever I go. Another blessing: no searching for the correct pages. If I'm leaving on a trip I can download each day's prayers in advance and not worry about finding a free WiFi hotspot while away from home.

VerseWise Bible RSV-CE. This is the Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition of the Bible, the same version as the popular Ignatius Bible (1st Ed). It costs only $7.99. The app includes a search capability and allows those of us with tired, older eyes to adjust the font style and size to meet our needs. You can bookmark your current page and highlight text. The app also remembers the last 100 verses you visited so you can return to them easily.

Catholic New American Bible Revised Edition. For those of you who actually like the NAB, it too is available as an iPad app for only $2.99. The app includes many of the same features as the RSV app above, but to me seems is a little less user friendly.

iPieta. This is one of those Catholic catch-all apps. It includes a Catholic Bible, dozens (hundreds?) of spiritual books and Church documents, prayers, novenas, hymns (many audio files included), Mass readings, a liturgical calendar, and lots more.

Catholic TV and Radio. This free app lets you watch Catholic TV shows from a variety of sources, including EWTN, and listen to Catholic radio programs. Another Catholic radio app you might want to check out is Ave Maria Radio.

Catholic Mass Times, published by TheCatholicDirectory.com. If you travel a lot and have trouble finding a Catholic church so you can attend Mass, this free app is for you. It locates the churches nearest to your current location, or you can search by address or zip code. It then displays Mass times, although on occasion I have encountered errors, probably because the parish didn't update the information on the website. And for shut-ins, it includes videos of Masses celebrated on Catholic TV.

The Boston Pilot. Of all the Catholic newspaper apps, I believe this to be the best. It's free and offers excellent local, national and international coverage of news of interest to Catholics.

3-Minute Retreat -- Enhanced. I really enjoy this free app, published by Loyola Press, and usually begin my day with it, right before I pray Morning Prayer. It might not be for everyone, but it helps me to start my day better than I would without it.

Kindle and Nook. With my iPad I can use the free apps offered by Amazon (Kindle) and Barnes and Nobel (Nook) and download and read hundreds of eBooks. Being a true reactionary, I enjoy the classics and other time-tested works that are often available online for no cost. I have well over 100 Kindle eBooks stored on my iPad and with only a few exceptions they were all downloaded for free.

OpenStates. For those of you who like to keep informed on your state government and elected state representatives, this is a terrific free app. Based on your location, it will identify your state representative and senator. You can then see how they've voted on specific legislation, check out current bills before the legislature, and much more.

MyCongress provides some of the same information as the OpenStates app, but for the U. S. Congress.

I think that's enough for now. If I came across some other good apps, I'll pass them along and hope you will do the same.

Blessings...

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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