I’ve always been excited by new technologies, especially since technology has the power to transform lives worldwide and the way in which we live.
It’s coming to the end of 2011 now, so it’s a nice time to review what Gurbani Apps have been developed and are being developed, and perhaps where we could see them go in the future. I spent a few days looking through and using these apps, and I present my review here.
During my review, I was very happy to see that most of these apps, although released for free, have a monetization strategy in place either through PayPal donations, in-app advertising or by charging a nominal 69 pence for the app itself. This is necessary and Gurbani software developers should not shy away from this because if a Gurbani application can generate some money, this money can be reinvested into making the application better for everybody and marketing it more widely. Majority of the applications I have come across have been produced out of pure love and service, where the money is being reinvested into charitable or not-for-profit activities.
A notable example is the new game just released by SikhNet called Karma – The Ogre’s Curse, which SikhNet have spent over $90,000 and over 1.5 years developing, and have released for FREE! It is only through your generous donations that this game can continue development, and deserves the highest applaud and congratulations AND blessings AND love for their amount of dedication and investment of time and money. We want to see more of this =)!
Finally, to all the users of these wonderful Gurbani apps, please do donate generously to the developers of the apps this Christmas, so that we can see more exciting Gurbani app developments in 2012. Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year from The Sikher Project and please remember the sacrifices of Guru Gobind Singh’s four Sahibzadeh, who died so we may live free – and may we use this freedom to contribute to others lives. And now for the review…
Out of all the apps in this category, SearchGurbani really stands out. Maninder’s constant dedication to continually developing and re-developing his website has resulted in an absolutely comprehensive and beautifully designed website offering all the Sikh Scriptures ever digitised – and you can search all of them easily – please bookmark SearchGurbani and share it with all your friends:
We all love and adore STTM II, and its worldwide adoption is exemplary, but do we know about Search Gurbani Desktop Version for Windows, Linux AND Mac? Again, this is a completely comprehensive software offering all of the goodness of SearchGurbani.com but in a software form, which is sure to enthuse and inspire countless people worldwide:
Mobile Apps (iPhone)
The recent explosion of mobile apps has also overflowed into Gurbani app development. Out of all the software I came across, GurbaniAnywhere for iPhone is FANTASTIC, and in many ways better than Desktop Gurbani software – the time and care which has gone into this software is obvious. Unfortunately, we don’t see it (or any other app like it) available on the Android yet, although it has been planned for quite sometime:
This interesting app makes clever use of the iPhone rotate feature to offer a Hukamnama (orders from the Guru) and if you shake it between 4am and 9am, it will play the morning Sikh prayers, and if you shake it between 4pm and 9pm, it will play the evening Sikh prayers – very innovative!
iSikhi, I found to be quite dated compared to recent modern UI expectations. However, if you understand this history of iSikhi you’ll find it was a revolutionary effort, especially since it was one of the first to apps to support Gurmukhi fonts on the iPhone (even before iPhone itself supported them!) and as a result of this app, countless others app developers have been inspired to produce Gurbani apps. Great work Mandeep!
Recently we launched this, and in light of doing an objective review, this is not really an app, but rather a website designed to work with all mobiles phones – so not very useful for all those key moments where there is no internet connection:
Maninder is working on an iSearchGurbani app for the Android, iPad and iPhone. I’m excited to see what else he has up his sleeve in this soon-to-be-released Gurbani app!
Gutka Apps (iPhone, Android, Kindle)
Gutka apps offer files of the Sikh prayers (Banis), but not in a searchable form, so they are basic versions of apps, but nevertheless noteworthy.
Our good friend from Derby, Khushkaran Singh Bajwa, has done some very innovative work by releasing one of the first and most popular Nitnem Gutka apps for the iPhone. Please support his work, as I’m sure he has much more yet to offer the world of digital Gurbani:
This app really caught my attention for its beautiful graphics and attention to detail. A beautiful digital Gutka:
Android apps are few in general, but these two seem to be pretty cool as basic Nitnem apps:
Kindle & eBook Readers
Read the Siri Guru Granth Sahib and Nitnem Banis on your Amazon Kindle, Kindle DX, Sony, Kobo, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Nook, and other e-book readers:
Gurbani Radio & Kirtan Apps
SikhNet Radio is a brilliant commercial-quality app available for iPhone, Android & Blackberry. You just have to LOVE SikhNet for all the excellent work they put into it. Please download/purchase this excellent app (for 69 pence on iPhone) and support them in the process, win-win!
Another great app by Khushkaran, offers Sikh radio channels from around the globe. Awesome app!
This is a simple app yet done exactly what is says on the tin – gives Amrit Bani Radio’s broadcast on SKY 0176 right to your phone. I liked the energy behind this app, comes from a good place – one to download!
Another forward-thinking developer, Inderpreet Singh, offers Sikh Sangeet which provides a number of categories of Sikh Kirtan, music and Katha (explanation of Sikh principles):
Finally, although not strictly an app, the work which went into the Gurbani Media Center is mind-blowing. Its feature rich and offers masses of all styles and genres of Kirtan. Just another reason to donate to SikhNet today:
After spending over $90K and being 1.5 years in development, they are in need of donations after deciding to release this game for FREE! Please contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org directly to offer your kind donations to this project:
SuperSant has captured the imagination of thousands worldwide. This classic game has now been brought to the iPhone & Android with an incredible user interface and exciting graphics, I’m surprised to find its being offered for free – no strings attached! Tarnjit Dhesi, the force behind Share Charity and a number of Gurbani apps, is an active individual working to help bring Sikh principles to the masses in an easy to understand manner:
A Note to all Gurbani Software Developers
These are all great apps above, but I still feel we could do a lot more – especially for platforms that are not getting much love – like Mac, Linux, Android, Blackberry, Windows 7, Symbian and a growing list of others. We can also start developing much more sophisticated applications and one’s which exceed all the current boundaries of design and usability.
One problem however is that no Gurbani software developers are releasing the source code for their Gurbani applications into the public domain. The Sikher Project has been the first, and so far only organisation to fully open source all of our code and databases. This must happen in order for better applications to surface.
It is a reflection of the Sikh community’s current consciousness, to be closed and do projects privately (because we think we know what’s best for everybody) – and we are all guilty of this to different degrees – myself included. However, we must now become more open and we must open source all our applications and our Gurbani databases, the future depends greatly upon doing this! I cannot stress this enough – we MUST open source all our application source code and databases! I’ve been stressing this strongly for 7 years, but I still have yet to see some action.
As for The Sikher Project’s further contribution to open source, I am today officially announcing the launch of the GurbaniDB CSV Weekly Dump (every Friday at 10pm) of the GurbaniDB database (including latest translation updates), available here:
http://ps71261.dreamhostps.com/db/ (Deprecated! Please use: http://sourceforge.net/projects/sikher/files/Database/). This is the same database which powers GurbaniDB’s search engine here: http://www.sikher.com/guru-granth-sahib/. This is being released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, meaning that all those who use this database must also attribute The Sikher Project and GurbaniDB, only use it for non-commercial purposes and must release their project under this same license: thus encouraging the Sikh world to move to open source!
For your next Gurbani app you can also try using the GurbaniDB Cloud API (REST & JSON-RPC supported) which has some VERY easy to use functions (so easy that even I can use them!) and we have provided simple code examples in PHP & Python – sign up here as a software developer today to get INSTANT access to the GurbaniDB Cloud API, and download the GurbaniDB Cloud API User Guide here: http://media.sikher.com/files/GurbaniDB_Cloud_Documentation_v2.docx
To your highest success and enlightenment,
Jasdeep Hari Bhajan Singh Khalsa.
Founder & Director of The Sikher Project