Last week my neighbor and I launched Pray: the Catholic Novena App, and the response was staggering.
Thousands of Catholics downloaded and installed the app.
Countless novenas were begun.
Many people are even praying multiple novenas concurrently!
We Heard You: Facebook Login Removed!
Amid the tremendous positive feedback, one criticism emerged from many people: please remove the requirement to authenticate using facebook.
So we did.
For those interested, our rationale with having facebook integration from the get-go was to make it easy for you to invite friends to pray a novena with you. All friends who were also using the app and chose to be visible would show up as people you could notify when you started a novena so that they would pray it with you.
That feature is still there for those who do choose to connect the app to facebook, but if you choose not to then you can just pray the novena on your own (and email or text or call those friends and ask them to pray with you).
Reality is that so many people have had their facebook accounts hacked, or disagree with facebook’s ideologies and practices, or have had apps in the past that posted to facebook secretly without their permission, that they are (rightfully to a degree) wary and distrustful of facebook.
Boo for facebook.
Yay for praying novenas!
Why Make Such a Big Launch?
We did a coordinated launch that saw multiple blog posts from several sites go live on the same day:
The reason for the big launch was to try to make a splash, especially in the Apple App Store.
The challenge nowadays with mobile apps is people finding them. With millions of apps, how does someone find yours?
Apple has algorithms that key off things like number of downloads, search terms used, number of installs, etc. Our app went to #2 in the search results for the word “Pray” and then became #1 as the launch went on. This is an incredible success. (The #1 app for Pray was an Islamic one for Ramadan.)
With the help of many friends we were able to get “above the fold” and on the radar of Apple’s search results, helping Catholics find us who 1) don’t read blogs and 2) don’t listen to Catholic radio.
Of course, longer term the best way for Catholics finding out about the app is for Catholics using the app to share it with them. We have already seen that happening but hope it grows even more.
Why Do Any of This?
Novenas are sort of hard to pray. Most Catholics don’t know about them or don’t bother praying them. But that’s a great shame! They are rich sources of devotion and can aid our spiritual lives greatly.
So we want Catholics to, first, pray novenas period, especially if they never have. Second we want Catholics to pray novenas regularly and to encourage them to complete the novenas they start. Third we want them to pray the novenas they want to pray when they want to pray them, for the intention they want to offer. Fourth we want to help them pray novenas together.
The app does all this, and we will continue to improve it. We’ve gotten hundreds of requests for new novenas–I put them in by hand one-by-one so it will take me a while to get to them all!
Also, we will eventually put in a way for people who like the app to be a patron of it; this will be optional and they will get some cool benefits we are working out, but it will enable us to improve the app and maintain its servers.
Imagine every Catholic in the world praying novenas! And God answering.
The world would change.