If you live on the Philippine island of Mindoro, you likely speak Tagalog. It’s also likely that one day you will be able to download the Gospel Library in your native language on your cell phone.
More than five billion people in the world have access to cell phones, also called feature phones. Although the Gospel Library app is available for Apple, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows smartphones, a good majority of the world’s population do not have smartphones.
The goal of the Gospel Library for Feature Phones project is to make the Gospel Library available to feature phone users. Hal Rushton, project manager for this effort, says that when he first came to work for the Church, he noted that there were lots of good applications for high-end smartphones but few for regular feature phones. Given his experience developing games for cell phones, Hal looked for ways to put the Gospel Library app on cell phones.
Hal says, “We can get the Gospel Library in nearly every language, in nearly every tongue, and in nearly every place in the world via cell phones. There’s no publishing cost for that—just the difficulty of making an app that is compatible for the thousands of different cell phone models and platforms.”
The earliest cell phones had no operating systems. They were simply telephones. But nearly all mobile phones manufactured today have Java-enabled technology, which means they have the capability to download content.
Another challenge lies in educating users about what’s available and how to access it. Most people don’t know how to download new applications to their cell phones. We need training, awareness, and instruction about how to download and install these apps for the variety of cell phone platforms and carriers.
Despite the challenges, the team is making progress. The J2ME and Symbian beta versions of the Gospel Library are currently available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German, and Samoan. You can download them here.
Hal encourages those with a J2ME or Symbian phone—especially people outside the United States—to give the beta versions a try and let him know how they perform.
If you have technical experience and would like to help, you can also join the project. (To join, click the Projects tab and navigate to the Gospel Library for Feature Phones project; then click Join.)
Hal says the ultimate goal of the Gospel Library for Feature Phones project is to help the gospel reach many more people. Not only will the app give members have increased access to the scriptures, it will also help non-members download and investigate gospel-related materials.