With the hustle and bustle of everyday life it's easy for even the most devout of religious people to forget to find time to feed their spiritual side. Thankfully the shiny phone in your pocket or tablet resting in your bag can provide a wealth of options for religious exploration regardless of your beliefs. Here are the best apps we've found for the largest religious groups in America at this time. If we missed your faith, let us know in the comments and we'll see what we can find.
Bible is one of the most popular and powerful Biblical iOS apps available on the market. With over 100 million downloads around the world, this free app offers up something for every denomination of the Christian faith. It includes a myriad of translations including the NIV, NASB, ESV, KJV, and more, along with the ability to read these translations offline. The app also provides online audio Bibles for users who'd rather listen along.
In addition, Bible offers hundreds of reading plans and devotionals to provide a helping hand if you're not sure where to start. Once you've figured out what to read, the app allows you to highlight your favorite verses with custom colors, create private notes to yourself, or share verses with friends via social media, email, or SMS text message. Utilizing YouVersion, users can also pull up their notes, highlights, reading plans, and bookmarks from any other supported device. Simply login to your account and you'll be ready to go.
If you need a more interactive experience with scripture and you don't mind paying for it, Bible +, or glo Bible, is the app for you. Bible + is an interactive HD text that uses videos, high-res images, articles, and digital tours to help you learn the Bible. Unlike the previously recommended app, this version only comes with free copies of the NIV and KJV translations, meaning you'll have to use in-app purchases to upgrade to your favorite translation. The premium version of this app costs $34.99. For your money you get access to a complete library of multimedia videos, study guides, and access to the same premium content via your web browser.
While this sounds like a lot of money, the quality of the multimedia content is incredible, offering professionally shot videos and beautiful photographs to enhance your learning experience. Thankfully add-on pricing is tiered, so if you'd just like to unlock complete multimedia access it's available for $19.99. This provides 3.5 hours of HD video content, and thousands of HD pictures and related works of art. New study guides are available for purchase as well. The prices are a little steep for my tastes considering what is being sold, but the quality is impressive. If you're looking for a more interactive experience than our previous recommendation offers, give glo Bible a shot.
PocketTorah is a wonderful app designed to help you learn the Torah and the Haftarah. It includes the entirety of both texts in Hebrew and English. Additionally the app offers on-demand audio; simply touch any verse number and the corresponding text will be read in Hebrew with the proper trope. Finally, users are offered the Tikkun View which allows you to swipe your finger to switch between Hebrew passages as vowelized text or as it traditionally appears in the Torah with crowns and no vowels.
I know the concept of a Shabbat app seems counter intuitive, but this one may come in handy for planning ahead. This app tells you when Shabbat begins and ends based on your current location or searchable time zones. To make sure its Shabbat times are accurate, the app is powered by the website Chabad.org. Beyond being a useful tool for planning your time of rest, the app includes a list of times for upcoming Jewish holidays.
Cost: Freemium (iQuaran lite can be found here)
iQuaran is a powerful app designed for all ages. The app available as both a free and paid version, with the paid version costing an affordable $1.99. Both versions have been optimized for Retina display, but the free version only comes with an English translation while the paid app includes 38 translations and includes support for both landscape and portrait views.
Each app includes verse by verse audio, including incredible controls designed to help with memorization. Rather than simple rewinding to hear a verse again users can set the app to repeat a single verse multiple times, repeat on reaching the end of a surah, or select a range of verses to loop. On the advanced app this functionality is enhanced with AirPlay support, and gapless verse by verse recitation by a wider range of narrators. The paid version also includes access to unlimited bookmarks and note-taking options, including special bookmark categories that will help you group verses by reading, memorizing, interesting, or discussion.
iQuaran provides a ton of incredibly useful content for a tiny price.
iPray is a prayer clock designed to help traveling Muslims keep their daily prayer schedule as they travel. The app offers sound and vibration alerts when it is time for your individual prayers, including Fajr, Ishraaq, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, Isha and Qiyam-ul-lail. Using your GPS location and the iPhone's compass feature, the app keeps track of what the Qibla is for any given prayer.
Buddha Vacana is a free daily readings app that sends a verse of the Buddha's teachings to your iOS device every day. Featuring 365 verses from the Pali Canon, the app allows users to browse and read verses by date, and plays a soothing bell chime whenever the app starts. Buddha Vacana is a simple app designed to help remain mindful during the stresses of every day life.
If we missed your particular faith and would like us to find apps that would help you in your own spiritual journey please leave us a comment below. It's been a fun challenge discovering how various religions have utilized the iOS environment to help their fellow believers. We look forward to reading your feedback.