Smartphone adoption has boomed to over 50% of mobile users across affluent GCC countries, ensuring a large market for Ramadan resources on mobile devices. The UAE has the highest adoption rate, with 62% of mobile users owning high-tech mobile devices, followed by Saudi Arabia, with 60%, according to figures released by Google in May.
Need for connectivity 'increases over Ramadan'
Such uptake indicates that it's not just the tech savvy who stand to benefit from the hundreds of apps on offer. "Smartphones are integral to every aspect of our lives and the need for constant connectively only increases during Ramadan," explains Raed Hafez, Managing Director of Motorola Mobility, Middle East & Africa.
With Android taking the lion's share of the global smartphone operating system market, at around 61%, Google Play has listed hundreds of Ramadan-specific apps.
"The holy month calls for a great deal of coordination and awareness, which is why a powerful device loaded with suitable apps is likely to be a 'must have'. Wherever Muslims find themselves in the world, this will enable them to be attuned to the requirements of their religion, never miss a crucial moment and remain healthy," says Hafez.
Sally Hamandi, Communications Manager for Nokia Lower Gulf explains that Islamic resources are offered on mobile devices beyond the holy month.
"Islamic apps are available all year round," she said, commenting on the range of Quran and Islamic prayer applications on offer.
"We want to enable consumers to connect to the month of Ramadan in the most meaningful way. Aiming to make the Nokia Store more valuable and locally relevant, we have added various Islamic apps that would let user celebrate this Ramadan with renewed religious fervour and offer Ramadan-specific activities with greater ease and conviction."
Nokia's Quran app was downloaded 1.5 million times last year, with Ramadan apps very popular and witnessing 'tremendous growth', according to Hamandi.
The following mobile apps are some of the top-rated for each smartphone operating system, based on user reviews.
Apple iOS - Ramadan Times
This popular free app does more than its name may suggest. Aside from worldwide iftar / suhoor timings, using US Naval Observatory data, this iPhone and iPad application offers a host of options and services. Top features include a monthly calendar view, background alarm support and updated city database new for Ramadan 2012.
Android - Ramadan 2012
One of Android's top scoring religious apps, billed as 'clean, simple and reliable', Ramadan 2012 is also free. Users are able to check timings of the five Islamic prayers, as well as iftar / suhoor timings for all major cities. Alarm options are customisable to give advanced warning for prayer times and Hadith and Dua prayers are provided.
BlackBerry - Call to Pray
This offering for RIM's OS includes four essential features; prayer times, Qibla direction, azakr and a Hijri calendar. While the app is not free, priced at a modest $0.99, it does provide automatic geographic updates for prayer timings and offers social sharing features for BBM, SMS, email and Facebook.
Nokia - Ramadan Doaa
Nokia's Ovi app store is thin on the ground for practical Ramadan resources, but for a large collection of Islamic Dua'a (supplications,) this application is adequate, priced at just Dhs2. Alternatively, a whole host of Quran apps are available on Nokia devices.