Electric Prayer

The Liturgy of the Hours, the Mass, and other things.

Apple Watch: the Gospel on your wrist

Posted by universalis on 16 April 2015

Apple have accepted our Apple Watch apps, and they are in the App Store now!


AppStore link

Universalis is approximately £10.49 / $13.99 / €13.99 from the App Store.

Catholic Calendar

AppStore link

Catholic Calendar is free. So there is no excuse not to have it – and you should tell all your watch-loving friends about it as well.

What the apps do

As far as the Apple Watch is concerned, both Universalis and Catholic Calendar behave in the same way. (The differences come in what the apps do on your iPhone or iPad).


There is a Glance to tell you what the feast or saint of the day is. Tap it to see the Gospel.

The app itself

When you open the app, you’ll see the calendar for the next few days. You can turn the crown to scroll through the list.


If you tap on a day, you will see the Gospel for the day. Use the crown to scroll through the whole text of the Gospel.

As well as the Gospel, you can see the First and Second Readings for the Mass of the day. To get these, press firmly on the Gospel screen, and a menu will pop up. Simply choose the reading you want.


All these pictures are for the bigger, 42mm Apple Watch. If you have the smaller, 38mm, model, then here is what you will see:

Watch38_Calendar Watch38_1Watch38_G

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The Apple Watch

Posted by universalis on 28 February 2015

Watch42_CalendarWe have completed the development of our Apple Watch apps, and they work beautifully. As soon as Apple start accepting submissions to the App Store, we will submit these apps, and with any luck they will be available from the very first day of the Apple Watch – just as Universalis was on the very first day of the iPhone App Store.

These apps are not a separate product. They come as part of the Universalis and Catholic Calendar  apps which are already in the App Store. If you haven’t got either app, Universalis is approximately £9.99 / $13.99 / €12.99 and Catholic Calendar is free. So you have no excuse not to try it out!

What the app does

When you open it, you see the calendar for the next few days. You can turn the crown to scroll through the list. (Universalis gives you yesterday, today and the week ahead; Catholic Calendar gives you yesterday, today and tomorrow).

Watch42_GIf you tap on a day, you will see the Gospel for the day. Again, the crown will let you scroll through the whole text.


As well as the Gospel, you can see the First and Second Readings for the Mass of the day. To get these, press firmly on the Gospel screen, and a menu will pop up for you to choose the reading you want.

And that’s all.

All the pictures are for the bigger, 42mm Apple Watch. If you are getting the smaller, 38mm, model, then here is what you will see:

Watch38_Calendar Watch38_1Watch38_G

One more thing…

The Apple Watch has things called Glances. A Glance is a single screen of information. You can jump from one Glance to the next with a flick of your finger.

Our Apple Watch apps provide a Glance which tells you what the feast of the day is. Instant, and simple. And if you tap on the Glance, it opens the app.


Posted in Downloadable Universalis | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Eastern General calendar

Posted by universalis on 23 February 2015

When you are looking through the list of available local calendars in Universalis, you may be puzzled by the mysterious “Eastern General” calendar which appears just before “Europe” in the list. Here is an explanation.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Amazon bug in Kindle Fire

Posted by universalis on 11 February 2015

On 10 February 2014 a bug was reported to us on the Kindle Fire, which caused the Universalis app to stop working. The bug only affected certain models of the Kindle Fire, and possibly only certain users of those models. Amazon are incapable of providing technical support.

Everybody’s Universalis apps started working again, eventually. The full details are below, copied from the original article.

On 10 February 2015 the same thing has happened. The symptoms are the same, and again the problem seems to cure itself spontaneously in the end. Because it is an intermittent problem, it is not possible to tell what is causing it, or what actions will make it go away, or whether it is just necessary to wait a day or two for the problem to go away by itself.

The Universalis app for Android exists in only one version, for all Android devices, so there must be something special about the Kindle Fire.


The Universalis application works perfectly in every respect except the following:

  • All the text pages (the Hours, the Order of Mass, Readings at Mass) are completely blank.
  • In the “Font size” setting screen, the sample text is blank.


For some people, this happens all the time. Others have found that it sometimes happens and sometimes doesn’t: they try, and they see blank page; they try a little later, and they see text.

One user reports that deleting and re-installing the Universalis application cures the problem (for a short while). Others report that it doesn’t.

Some people report that shutting down their device and starting it up again cures the problem (for a short while). Others report that is doesn’t.

One user reports: “I switched my wifi off and on again and I got to Vespers. Setting it up for Compline failed. Switching wifi off and then on again brought up Compline.” We would be very interested to know if other people have the same experience. But that user then wrote back and said that the next day everything was working perfectly!

Versions affected

Amazon’s name Software version
Kindle Fire HD (Previous Generation) System Version 7.4.6 user 4620220
Kindle Fire HD (Previous Generation) System Version 7.4.7 user 4730120
Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ System Version 8.4.6 user 4620220
Kindle Fire System Version 10.4.6 user 4620220

No report received

Please let us know if you have any of the following Kindle Fires:

Amazon’s name Software version
Kindle Fire HD 11.3.1
Kindle Fire HDX 13.3.1
Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″ 14.3.1
More models have been added since this article was originally written.

Please help us to make these lists complete. Here are instructions for finding out the version of your Kindle system software. Here are instructions for finding out what model of Kindle Fire you have.

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The same Gospel twice!

Posted by universalis on 21 December 2014

Yesterday, December 20, we had St Luke’s Gospel about the Annunciation. Today, the fourth Sunday of Advent, we have St Luke’s Gospel about the Annunciation.

This is not a mistake!

Read the rest of this entry »

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How texts evolve

Posted by universalis on 14 December 2014

In normal times, the way a text survives is by someone copying it out before the manuscript falls to bits and is lost. Of course errors happen, and it is then the job of scholars to collate the existing texts and work out what the original was.

Rather a good example of this has just come up, so I thought I would post it here.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Christmas presents from Universalis: e-books

Posted by universalis on 25 November 2014

Last year’s blog post explained how to give Universalis apps as presents to your friends. Now it is turn of e-books, for your friends with e-readers.

Giving the ability to make e-books

In general, you make a Universalis e-book by creating it for yourself. You buy a registration code, and either you use the Universalis program on Mac or Windows to make yourself an e-book or, for  Kindle e-books only, you can use our web site to send an e-book directly to the Kindle. In either case, you need a Universalis registration code, which costs £19.99.

So as a once-and-for-all present to your friend, you can buy a registration code as a gift. To give a code as a gift, please buy it from us in the usual way. Forward the 9-digit code to your friend, and then, to avoid confusion in the future, send us an email to let us know that the code belongs not to you but to your friend (your friend’s name, address, and email would be helpful).

Pre-packaged e-books

We have built a few pre-packaged e-books, which make perfect Christmas gifts. They are:

The links shown above will take you to the relevant Kindle Store listing.

For the Kindle only, in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales only, there is an alternative, because we sell two pre-packaged e-books which make perfect Christmas gifts. There is the Liturgy of the Hours 2014 (High Seasons), which gives every Hour for every day from now until Pentecost 2014, and there is Mass Readings 2014, which gives the readings at Mass for every day from now until the end of 2014. Both of them cost £6.17 and you can view them on Amazon by clicking on their titles above.

The snag is that, except in the USA, Amazon don’t allow you to give e-books as gifts. They do, however, offer various kinds of gift cards, so you can give one of the right value and hint to your friend what you would like to him to buy with it. You might send him the links to the e-books, to help.

In the USA, you can give e-books as gifts.

Making e-books yourself

There is nothing, technically, to stop you making an e-book for (say) 2015 and giving it to your friend. But please note that you shouldn’t do this just like that, because when you bought your registration code it gave you the right to create e-books for your personal use only. It isn’t fair to us or to the copyright holders to go round the place pirating!

Here is what one of our customers has done. She has a friend who is an elderly priest, and she has set up his Kindle for him. In setting it up, she has noted the Kindle’s @kindle.com email address (every Kindle has one) and now, whenever it is time for a new e-book, she sits at home and sends the new e-book to that address by email, and Amazon deliver it wirelessly to her friend’s Kindle.

The procedure is the same as if she were creating Kindle e-books for herself (the instructions are here), but instead of saving the e-book to her Kindle she saves it to her desktop and then emails it from there. She makes one-year e-books, and sends them just before Christmas as a sort of extra Christmas card.

Being upright and decent, our customer has bought a registration code for her friend. We know about this because she asked us whether to switch registration codes from her own to her friend’s before creating his e-book and then back again to her own afterwards. I said no, no need at all: the aim was for the right number of licences to exist, corresponding to the number of users. Flipping the codes the whole time wouldn’t benefit anyone: it would just be pedantic.

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“The dog ate my email”

Posted by universalis on 22 October 2014

Every week or so, a user of our daily email service contacts us to say that an email has not arrived.

Very occasionally this is because they have cancelled the service by replying to one of the emails (or sometimes their email system has done it for them, for instance because they are away on holiday). If this happens to you, you can easily restart the emails – using the web site if you used the web site to set them up, or, if you set them up using an app, by using the app.

Much more often, nothing has been cancelled, and the daily emails have been sent and accepted correctly. This is what this post is about.

The post, and dogs

When you take out a subscription to a magazine, the publisher may talk about delivering the magazine to you every week or month, but this is not true. They do not. They deliver the magazine to your letter-box.

Whether this results in you receiving the magazine depends on your dog. Some dogs will treat things coming through the letter-box as a threat, and chew them to shreds.

In which case the magazine has been delivered to your address, but not to you – and there is nothing the publisher can do. They can’t control your dog.

Your emails, and dogs

We talk about sending you emails, but of course we don’t really. We send emails to your email address. We send emails to the computer which (according to the Internet) is designated as the mail server for your email address. (For example, if you have an email address @gmail.com, the computer will have a romantic and memorable name such as gmail-smtp-in.l.google.com).

The computer to which we have sent the email confirms to our mail server that our email has been (a) received and (b) accepted for delivery to you. (In the case of @gmail.com, Google’s computer says “OK 1416625904 j9ti19004277wjf.10 - gsmtp“, with every received email getting a unique code number). The postal analogy would be the postman hearing the thud as the magazine hits your doormat.

But there is still the dog.

One of the things you pay your email service provider for is not to deliver certain emails to you, often because it decides that they are spam.

If your email service provider decides to chew up an email we send you instead of letting you have it, there is nothing we can do. It is entirely between your email service provider and you. You are the boss, and if they are chewing your incoming emails and losing them, you have to tell them to stop. No one else can.

If you ask us “what happened to my emails?” we’ll happily look up our logs and quote the acknowledgement code that your email service provider gave us. It may help them to discover what they did with an email you wanted, and learn to behave better in the future.

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Deeply embarrassing

Posted by universalis on 22 October 2014

A very kind user looked a little ahead in the calendar and discovered that Universalis was wrong about the date of All Souls’ Day in England and Wales. It had, in fact, disappeared altogether.

This year, in England and Wales, All Saints’ Day is moved to Sunday 2 November (it is moved to Sunday when it falls on Saturday) and consequently All Souls’ Day is on Monday 3 November.

The web site has been corrected, the Windows and Mac downloads have been corrected and you can re-download and reinstall them. The apps for iOS, Android and Mac have had corrections submitted and will be updated automatically. On the iOS and Mac side, this means waiting for Apple to approve the update, which at the moment seems to be taking about a week.

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Android bug

Posted by universalis on 11 August 2014

Once again, the latest updates to Android on certain devices have brought with them a bug which makes all pages in the Universalis and Catholic Calendar apps blank. (The apps continue to work normally in every other respect: for instance, the calendar listing is still visible).

As before, the problem is connected with an Android system update and only affects some Android devices. Unfortunately, none of our own devices are affected despite having had the latest updates installed. This means that we cannot find out what the Android bug is, or whether there is any way for an app to work round the bug.

Last time round, the bug affected only the Kindle Fire, and it went away after about a week. Presumably that was when Amazon noticed the bug themselves, corrected it, and issued an update.

We hope a similar thing will happen this time. Meanwhile here are three things you can try, which should make no difference at all to the problem… but may do, nevertheless.

  1. Shut down the Universalis app and then restart it.
  2. Shut down the device completely and then power it up again.
  3. Remove the Universalis (or Catholic Calendar) app and re-download it or reinstall it.

In addition, one user has reported that turning wi-fi on and then off again corrected the problem. This is clearly impossible, and it serves to emphasise that the bug in Android is erratic and random.

Posted in Downloadable Universalis | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »


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