The month of May has already been pretty happening in the Middle East with Future Tech Week (GISEC/ GEMEC/IoTx) taking place in Dubai and Bahrain-based VRXOne being highlighted in the recent Google I/O 2018. And now, as Ramadan is close at hand, there is more to come. Let us put it this way…
Got a Ramadan-related query? Don’t worry Google is bringing all Ramadan-related information literally to your fingertips during this holy month. That’s right. As Muslims around the world have been gearing up for fasting schedule in Ramadan, Google has had its own preparations. Or as Najeeb Jarrar, the Head of Consumer Marketing at Google for MENA region, puts it, “As more than a billion people prepare for Ramadan, we too at Google have been working to help our users as they begin to adapt to the month-long occasion. From augmented reality in Qibla Finder to virtual reality in Qalam, we brought Google’s innovation to your fingertips this Ramadan.”
No matter what it is you are looking for – local prayer times, popular Ramadan recipes or useful tips – all of this and related information is going to be accessible on the main search result page throughout the month-long Islamic event.
Not only that, Google has also revealed addition of new features as part of Ramadan services called Qibla Finder and Qalam. These new features are a product of Muslims’ digital habits over years during Ramadan as per the Google Trends data which signifies a greater interest in ‘Qibla and Ramadan Kareem’-related searches throughout the holy month. So let us look at what are these novel features.
One of the features is an update to the Qibla Finder web app, launched last year which makes use of Augmented Reality on Android devices to find Qibla direction – a very useful app for Muslims at the time of prayer as they carry on with their activities throughout the day. The update enables offline use of the feature as well as allows to place a shortcut to Qibla Finder app on the home screen of Android devices, in essence speeding up the entire process for greater convenience.
The new product however is to do with Ramadan and later, Eid greetings for users to share with friends and family. Called Qalam (Pen), this app is a hybrid of calligraphy and virtual reality. The app offers over 35 artworks created by nine of the world-famous artists and calligraphists including el Seed whose is known for “calligraffiti” in his designs which is a mix of calligraphy with graffiti; Tolga Girgin from Turkey whose work unites calligraphy with typography; Soraya Syed from Pakistan, specializing in bringing together modern technologies like holography with calligraphy – as well as Diaa Allam, Karima Sharabi, Lulwah Al Hamoud, Majid Al Yousuf and Rachel Joy Price.
By: Dr. Sana Farid