Electric Prayer

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

App Store pricing

Posted by universalis on 24 January 2017

Recently, the newspapers have been full of the news that Apple are raising App Store prices in the UK by 25%.

This isn’t actually true. What is true is that if developers do nothing, the price of an app will go up: in the case of Universalis, from £9.99 to £12.99.

But developers don’t have to do nothing. We haven’t.

We have altered the price tier to be applied to the Universalis app, so that from today the UK price for the Universalis app for iOS has gone up from £9.99 to £10.99 but the price in the rest of the world has gone down: for example, from $12.99 to $10.99.

There is no change in the price for a Universalis registration code, which is something you buy from us directly. It is £19.99, or whatever the equivalent is in your currency on the day you buy. If you already have an app, you only need to pay half that: £9.99. (If you haven’t come across registration codes before: a registration code gives you free access to Universalis apps on iOS and Android and Universalis programs on Windows and Mac, and also the e-book creation service).


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Malayalam in Universalis

Posted by universalis on 20 September 2016

The project to provide Malayalam translations of the Mass texts – the Order of Mass, the readings and psalms, and the prayers and antiphons – is almost complete.

Because we have been given these texts free of charge, we do not intend to charge for them. Here is how this works:


Catholic Calendar normally has a one-month period during which it shows you the full text that the paid-for Universalis app would show. But if, in the app settings, you set the “Order of Mass” language to “Malayalam”, then for the Mass pages only this time limit is removed and you will be able to view the Mass without ever having to pay.

This is available now.

Windows and Mac

The Universalis program normally has a one-month period during which it shows you everything; after that, you need to buy and enter a registration code if you want to carry on seeing anything other than the “About Today” page. But if, in the “Translations” screen, you set the “Order of Mass” language to “Malayalam”, then the Mass pages will always be visible and will not require a registration code.

This is available now.

iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)

Free access to Malayalam text will be available in the next release.

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Music in Universalis

Posted by universalis on 15 September 2016

We have long wanted to be able to add music to Universalis, and now at last we have been able to take the first step. Users of the Universalis and Catholic Calendar apps on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch can now hear:

  • The Marian anthem at the end of Compline (Night Prayer), free of charge.
  • The whole of sung Latin Compline for Sundays, as an in-app purchase.

A useful liturgical fact is that Sunday Compline is allowed to be used on any day of the week, not just Sunday. A useful technical fact is that we have been able to get Universalis to show the sung Latin in parallel with the English and to highlight each line as it is being sung. This means that as you listen, you know where you are and what the sung words mean.

This music has been recorded specially for us by the Schola Cantorum of The London Oratory School, is one of the leading liturgical choirs in Britain. We are grateful to Charles Cole, the Director of the Schola Cantorum, and the choristers for recording sung Compline. We would also like to express our gratitude to Father George Bowen of the London Oratory for his enthusiasm and support, and to the Fathers of the London Oratory for allowing the recording to be made in St Wilfrid’s Chapel, Brompton Oratory, London.

We intend to provide more music (and audio generally) throughout Universalis, so look out for updates! As soon as more music is available, we will also work on adding it to the Android app and possibly to the Windows and Mac programs.

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Android progress

Posted by universalis on 9 September 2016

The Universalis app for Android has been around for a few years now, and many thousands of people are using it. There have recently been some changes and there will be more. This posting gives you an idea of what is going on.

1. Subscriptions

The Android app costs £9.99, or the equivalent in your currency, and once you have paid this, you never need to pay again.

Some people have told us that this is a big lump of money to be paying all at once and they would prefer to pay monthly. So now you have that option. If you get the free Catholic Calendar app, which gives you a month’s worth of free Universalis content (all the Liturgy of the Hours and Mass pages), then at the end of the month it will offer you the chance to start a monthly subscription. This costs $0.99 in the USA and commensurate amounts elsewhere: in the UK it is between £0.75 and £0.89.

Full details are here.

Obviously it’s cheaper in the long run to buy the Universalis app and get rid of Catholic Calendar – but at least you now have the choice.

2. Improved display

Hitherto, the Android app has displayed its pages to you by creating a temporary web page and asking Android to display that page. This had many disadvantages.  For instance, if you were half way through a page and turned your device sideways, there was no reliable way for the rotated display to be scrolled to the right place. Either it would bounce up to the top of the whole page, pause a moment, and then bounce back to where you were reading, or it would go up to the top of the page and stay there. This was a serious defect in the design of Android web views and it was impossible for us to do anything about it.

The most serious problem with using web pages was that it was impossible for us to move forward and make the improvements we wanted to make – for example, offering a page-turning display mode of the kind that iOS has. (Some people love scrolling and can’t stand page-turning; others love page-turning and can’t stand scrolling; so it is good to have a choice).

So now we have done the necessary programming, and Universalis is displaying its pages directly on your screen instead of via a pseudo-web view. Once this has all settled down, we will be able to move forward and give you more features and more readable displays.

Any problems?

If you have trouble with the the new display mode, you can turn it off. Open the Settings screen, and you’ll see a switch marked “Advanced Display Mode” at the bottom. But do please let us know. If you don’t tell us what you don’t like, we will never be able to improve things for you. Here is how to contact us.

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Android Bug

Posted by universalis on 11 August 2016

The Kindle Fire has a bug which makes all pages in the Universalis and Catholic Calendar apps blank. (We have had just two reports of non-Kindle Fire devices being affected, but it is almost always the Kindle Fire).

The apps themselves continue to work normally in every other respect: for instance, the calendar listing is still visible, and you can switch from one page to another.  It is just that the content of the pages themselves is blank.

The bug appears intermittently, on specific dates, the same date each year. It appeared in August 2013, and again in August 2014. Both times it went away after a few days. 11 August appears to be the peak day for bug reports.

We have conducted detailed research, thanks to one of the Fathers of the London Oratory who was experiencing the bug and able to lend us his Kindle Fire.

  1. Only early models are affected. Modern Kindle Fires aren’t.
  2. The bug is not in Universalis but in Android itself.
  3. The bug is triggered by viewing Morning Prayer for 11 August, the feast of St Clare.
  4. Once the bug has been triggered, the text of the page is never updated again.

How to get round it

  1. Move to an Hour other than Morning Prayer, or a date other than 11 August. You won’t see any change in the text yet, but the headings at the top of the screen will show the date and the hour.
  2. Close Universalis and shut down your device completely.
  3. Power up your device, and the problem will have gone away.

What we have done

In the latest releases of the Universalis and Catholic Calendar apps, released in September 2016, we have changed the way in which text is displayed. The main motive for doing this was to get more control of scrolling, and to lay the foundations for future plans (such as a page-turning mode as an alternative to the scrolling one). But the new display mode also avoids the defective component in Android, and the St Clare bug no longer occurs.

The new way of displaying text is turned on automatically, and you don’t have to do anything: just make sure you have the latest update of Universalis or Catholic Calendar.


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How to get the two-year cycle

Posted by universalis on 3 May 2016

The two-year cycle of readings in the Office of Readings has raised much more interest than I expected. Normally a new feature creeps in and people gradually discover it, but this time I’ve already had a dozen emails, many of them asking variations of “It’s a beautiful feature but how do I get hold of it?”.

So this blog post will tell you how.

Read the rest of this entry »

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New e-books available

Posted by universalis on 1 May 2016

The new season’s ready-made Universalis e-books are now available for the Amazon Kindle:

  • USA and Australia: Liturgy of the Hours 2016 (Ordinary Time), covering every day from Pentecost to Advent Sunday 2016. $9.99 (USA), AU$11.99 (Australia).
  • UK and Ireland: Liturgy of the Hours 2016 (Ordinary Time before the Assumption), covering every day from Pentecost to mid-August 2016. £2.99 (UK), about €3.82 (Ireland).
  • UK and Ireland: Liturgy of the Hours 2016 (Ordinary Time after the Assumption), covering every day from mid-August to Advent Sunday 2016. £2.99 (UK), about €3.82 (Ireland). A single Ordinary Time e-book for the UK and Ireland is too large for Amazon to handle, which is why two books are needed. But each of them is half the price, so the split won’t cost you anything 

The Mass Readings book for 2016 is still available:

  • Mass Readings 2016, covering every day from Advent 2015 to the end of 2016. £5.99 (UK), about €7.64 (Ireland), $9.99 (USA), AU$11.99 (Australia).

The ready-made e-books are available for the UK and Ireland; the USA; and Australia. All the links to the e-books are here.

If you have a Universalis registration code, don’t buy the ready-made e-books (except as presents), because you can create your own e-books for yourself, with your own choice of pages, dates, and calendar, and it won’t cost you anything. The Universalis e-book page will point you to the necessary instructions.

(If you haven’t got a registration code but are thinking of getting one, you can have a free trial of the e-book creation process: the e-book page gives instructions for this).


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The two-year cycle of the Office of Readings

Posted by universalis on 29 April 2016

Update: Here is how to get the two-year cycle in your Universalis program or app.

When the liturgy was extensively revised in 1970, one of the themes was the inclusion of a far wider range of biblical readings. At Mass, this meant a three-year cycle of Sunday readings and a two-year cycle of weekday readings. In the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours this meant a two-year cycle, both of Scripture readings and of the patristic Second Readings which accompany them.

The two-year cycle covers the whole of salvation history and uses practically every book of the Bible – not avoiding tricky passages which need thorough reading and meditation and aren’t suitable for the “listen fast or it’s gone” nature of the readings at Mass. It is also carefully designed to be out of step with the Mass readings, so that if you hear a passage read at Mass then it won’t appear in the Office of Readings for a year (or at worst, for a few months).

This masterpiece is lovingly described in §§147 to 152 of the General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours. But if you look in the actual printed books – it isn’t there. In its place is a one-year cycle of readings, covering half the material.

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The Malayalam Project

Posted by universalis on 9 March 2016

അത്യുന്നതങ്ങളില്‍ ദൈവത്തിനു മഹത്വം

The Malayalam language is spoken in the state of Kerala, which is on the western side of the southern tip of India. Kerala has a large Catholic population, and we are working with the Bishop’s Council to provide the Order of Mass and the readings at Mass in Malayalam, as part of Universalis.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Universalis for webmasters

Posted by universalis on 11 February 2016

If you are responsible for a web site, we encourage you to make use of Universalis. (And if you aren’t, do pass the message on to someone who is).

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