For quite a while, language software developers have been considering ways to use cell phones and other mobile devices, focusing on two major areas:
- publishing language program data to these devices for use in the communities served—app development (web apps and device apps) as well as websites that are accessible through the devices
- using these devices in the language program work
One of the challenges has been that so many language application projects are in progress that freeing staff to work on mobile applications has been difficult—and most staff don’t have mobile app development experience. As new staff come on board, ideally they will already have the necessary skills.
The one group that does work on developing websites for Scripture and video downloads to mobile devices does not have the resources to develop additional applications.
Ideas and dreams for projects include:
- Epub reader that is Graphite-enabled to run on smart devices
- map generation program capable of localized labeling
- application for Ethnologue
- iOTA oral translation app
- vocabulary manager with the ability to record audio, video, and take photos to help translators acquire language skills
- Android keyboard manager similar to Keyman
- ALIA literacy illustration app for making and cataloguing line drawings from photos
Genesis 1–9 had been translated into Zayse and checked by a consultant. Because the language’s writing system had not been chosen, printing of those Scriptures was a long way off. The translation team made a simple recording of several of the translated chapters. With a minimal amount of editing, the audio files were ready for distribution. The team purchased five mini SD memory cards, copied the audio files to them, and gave them to interested local people.
A couple months passed without the team knowing what had become of their experiment. One day, about six miles from his village, a translator starting talking with a man he had never met. As they were chatting, the man suddenly said, “Hey, I have your voice on my mobile!” The man had used simple Bluetooth technology to receive the Scriptures of the audio file as it was transferred from phone to phone. The potential for mother-tongue distribution of Scripture is huge.
A Key Avenue for the Word
In sensitive countries, the ability to hear or read the Bible discretely is crucial. Many people often walk around with their cell phones in their pockets and an ear bud in one ear. Others would assume they are listening to music or waiting for a call.
In reality, they could be listening to portions of the Bible in their heart language. There is a big difference between carrying a Bible in your hand and carrying one on a cell phone.