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RIM poised to release Islamic apps for Ramadan

Ten apps Islamic apps have been created for the PlayBook, three for BlackBerry smartphone

Mike Al Mefleh, regional product manager for RIM says the company is about to release ten Islamic apps for the BlackBerry PlayBook in the BlackBerry App World.
Mike Al Mefleh, regional product manager for RIM says the company is about to release ten Islamic apps for the BlackBerry PlayBook in the BlackBerry App World.

Research In motion is launching a range of Islamic themed apps for BlackBerry App World, just in time for Ramadan.

The Islamic and cultural apps are available in both English and Arabic and the content ranges from the text of the Quran, to games for children and families.

RIM is launching ten new Islamic themed apps for the PlayBook before the end of this month and three apps for its smartphones.

"We are not only focused on delivering the Islamic applications, but other aspects of that too, such as entertainment, utilities and for example Arabic food and  recipes, " said Mike Al Mefleh, regional product manager for RIM.

The Arabic Recipe app allows PlayBook users to post recipes and information from the app to Facebook to share with friends.

The line-up of PlayBook apps also include Mecca, an Arabic and English language app which is designed for users interested in learning about Mecca. It gives users information on the holy city, features maps of the area that users can zoom into, pinpoints historic locations and points of interest, as well as information on transport..

There is also a Quran app, so users can access the text of the Quran, and if users want the accompanying audio, that can be downloaded for each verse or ‘Sura' of the Quran, according to Al Mefleh.

The Medina app is designed to give users information about Mecca and Madina in terms of the history and location.

Another app is called Konooz, which is designed as a family educational application, it focuses on sports, culture and Islamic facts and asks questions as a quiz that the whole family can enjoy.

Stressless is a PlayBook app which is designed to help users relax and sleep. Users can tap into relaxing audio, like sounds of water or forests or trees and can use it to snooze.

"Another two apps which are made for specific literature or books in the Islamic world, we call it Sahih Bukhary and Sahih Muslim. They are educational, people can use them to understand more about the religion or narrations from Islamic experts. All this content, people can reference to it at their fingertips," said Al Mefleh.

There is also Kids Stories, which features digital books aimed at children, which offers both onscreen display or audio playback, in English and Arabic.

 "There is also a game called Memory cards, which is for kids, but I have actually been playing this game. You have to try to remember which card matched with another card.

We have it in Arabic and English as well," said Al Mefleh.

These PlayBook applications will be rolled out free of charge in the BlackBerry App World before Ramadan.

"It ensures our commitment of providing relevant local content to the region, with the languages of their choice," said Al Mefleh.

One of the older Islamic apps which was released two months ago and has had great success both in the Middle East and globally is a Java app called Calls to Pray.

This app is already on BlackBerry App World and works with all BlackBerry smartphone devices, both old and new.

The app is integrated within the BlackBerry smartphone solution offering and utilises the BBM, the calendar and the email inside the phone.

Research In Motion is also currently working with developers to integrate the Hijri calendar and the Gregorian calendar into the app.

The app features two different Arabic-style themes for Call to Pray with integrated audio.

Call to Pray, helps users to be able to understand within their geographical area, the times for prayers, and the direction to Mecca for praying, using GPSAl Mefleh said


The application supports Arabic, English, Urdu, Farsi, French and Turkish.

Research In Motion has also been working on another set of applications specifically for Ramadan for smartphones, which will be supported on almost all the devices including some of the new devices such as the Bold 9900.

"We will release the Call to Prayer, Ifthar reminders, the Quran and other apps which will serve the needs of Ramadan from a Muslim perspective. So all these will be available on App World prior to Ramadan, free," said Al Mefleh.

RIM is continuing to develop applications that are locally relevant and are working within the entertainment industry to develop games; working with newspapers and TV channels to develop apps - Al Jazeera already has some applications for BlackBerry.

RIM is also working with DEWA looking at an app to pay bills for water and electricity.

Since BlackBerry App World launched in May this year, there has been tremendous positive feedback, according to Al Mefleh.

As part of a survey recently done in the region by Apps Arabia and Real Opinions and sponsored by RIM, revealed that 67% of users like to download apps from the official store. It also revealed that local users have requested relevant localised applications with local content, whether it is culturally related, Islamic related or utilities to help them with their needs.