Shazam for Hymns, and other LDS app brainstorm ideas

Shazam-Auto_webIs it just me, or has the LDS library app become a bit cumbersome to navigate? If I preload the Screens with one screen each of Hymns, Old Testament (or current Sunday School scripture book), Teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith (or current RS/PH manual), and Children’s Songbook, then it’s more manageable. But if I ever stray away from that structure within a screen, heaven help me try to go through layers and layers of library menus to get to the hymn we’re singing sooner than about verse 3 (yes, our ward enjoys wonderfully at tempo Sacrament meeting chorister and organist!).

As I was sitting at the back of the overflow in Stake Conference last Sunday, without a program, struggling to identify and then pull up the hymn we were singing, I had the Eureka! moment: my phone should just be able to hear the organ’s opening notes or measures, and pull up the corresponding page of lyrics. Shazam for Hymns, if you will.

If we were to host a church app hackathon, what other ideas should we implement? UPDATE: Ok, apparently this isn’t a hypothetical, and the church actually announced a hackathon like this a couple days ago, about a day after I wrote and scheduled this post. #creepy? Brainstorm your LDS-theme app ideas here. I’ll do a few to get us warmed up. Yours can’t possibly be worse than some of these, so this list should help you feel uninhibited about brainstorming.

  • Shazam for Hymns (explained above)
  • Tinder for VT/HT: Managing home teaching and visiting teaching assignments is a huge time sink for Relief Society and Quorum presidents. When a new family moves into the ward, or anytime HT/VT assignments need reorganization, let members identify who they would accept or not accept as teachees or teachers. If both parties would accept, match! Happier members, and leadership has more time for other tasks.
  • Airbnb for visiting GAs: When apostles and other general authorities travel to visit stake conferences, they often stay in members’ homes. Currently, the process for choosing where they should stay is opaque. AirGA would democratize the process and increase general authority consumer choice by letting members advertise the virtues of their homes. And members could investigate the qualifications of prospective general authority guests by checking up on their social media profiles.
  • Yo for HT/VT Reporting: We all know that getting our home and visiting teaching done every month is a drag, but even after the visit, just reporting that fact can be as much of a drag. What if our district supervisors set up Yo accounts, and we could just send them a “Yo” when we’re done for the month–so easy!
  • Yo for HT/VT: Think how much easier it would be if all you had to do to fill up your stats for the month is send a “Yo” to each person on your list! (In-app purchase premium feature: one click sends Yo to all of them, so you don’t have to click once for each individual). Adoption of VTYo and HTYo would result in instant, dramatic improvement in reporting numbers throughout tech-savvy, spendy areas of the church!
  • Nauvoo Minecraft: Instead of spending all Sacrament meeting zoned out on their parents’ phones playing Minecraft, imagine all your ward’s primary children spending all Sacrament meeting zoned out on their parents’ phones building the city of Nauvoo in Minecraft! Children would learn about the drudgery, sacrifice, and hardship of their religious forebears by building up a city from scratch on top of malaria-infested swampland. When they’re done with that, they can watch it all burn and then start over in Salt Lake City! Actually, this one already exists (see link).

Fame and venture capital fortune await you, fellow saints! What are your ideas for the next killer LDS app?


  1. The Holland App: An LDS version of the Hemingway App. It highlights the sections of your talks that are vague, overly preachy, or just lame so your talks more can sound more like Elder Holland’s. It should be free to members of the high council.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    At an elder’s quorum party long ago, before home computers were even a thing, much less aps, one elder did a commercial for the Home-Teach-a-matic. The device looked sort of like a home satellite dish (even though those didn’t exist yet, either), and you aim it towards where your teachee lives, turn some dials, and it does the home teaching for you. So the desire for such a tool has existed for a long time; now with smart phones and aps, we can make this a reality!

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    How about an ap to manage all the requirements to obtain one’s Eagle, or Personal Progress, or whatever. There could be a leader’s version, where she could use it to monitor how her charges are progressing.

  4. Kevin Barney says:

    I recently read Way Below the Angels, and he talks about keeping meticulous tracting records in notebooks (who was home, who wasn’t, who pointed a gun at them, that sort of thing). All the apartments had stacks of these records, which no one actually used (it would be incredibly unwieldy). What if there were an ap for tracting records? Then when the next set of elders comes along, they don’t have to dig out and try to decipher old notebooks; gps technology would bring up prior experiences to them automatically as they tract.

  5. I would buy all of these

  6. Oh why didn’t I think of this one before?

    Lyft for arranging carpools to scouts, activity day, youth activities, Sacrament mtg, etc.

    @Kevin, there is an app like that for Scouts that organizes the milestones and awards. My son’s den leader uses it.

  7. Check out the LDS music app–it’s just the Hymns and Children’s Songbook. Easy to navigate, and you can even create playlists. It’s a second app, but I think it’s far easier than doing everything within the Library app.

  8. Apple Pay for Tithing. No explanation needed.

    Baptism Witness Checker. Set your phone on the ground with the camera aimed across the top of the font. The app will flash red if even one hair of the head does not pass under the water.

    Bishop’s Buddy App. Press a button when the priest starts reciting the sacrament prayer. The app will indicate if they made any errors.

    Priest’s Buddy App. Press a button and Siri/Cortana will read the sacrament prayer for you. Several different voice options, including David Archuletta, Steve Young, and President Uchtdorf. Sorry, Kate Kelly voice currently unavailable.

    Liahona Compass App. Its just like all the other compass apps for your phone, only it stops working if you’re not righteous. And after 11pm (10pm if on the BYU campus).

    Missionary Tracker. Allows MPs to attach gps tracking devices to Elders and Sisters in order to provide even more monitoring of these youth – I mean, adults. A missionary leaves his/her assigned area? Instant notice to MP (and optional tornado warning sounds on the missionary’s phone). A missionary eats dinner at member’s house? The app begins a 60-minute countdown as soon as they sit down. Expand to the full version and the app will synch with imdb to provide a list to each missionary of the top-rated movies they will miss during the next 18/24 months.

    … and finally, an actually serious entry:

    Report to Nursery App. Allows the nursery staff to remotely notify parents of excessive crying, diaper time, and lack of goldfish. Also can be used to schedule the treat rotation.

  9. Report to Nursery App is no joke! There should also be one that signals randomly chosen high priests to report to nursery for dynamic response to emergency staffing needs.

  10. Cynthia: YES!

    Dave K: I love the Nursery App idea!

    So I did some research and Shazam tech isn’t open source but there is a similar project supported by The Echo Nest and MusicBrainz for song recognition:

    Also check out Echonest’s API:

  11. it's a series of tubes says:

    Dave K, great list. The tithing payment app has an alternative solution: you can set yourself up to pay tithing directly to SLC via your online bill pay. Ask your financial clerk for details. Works great. You get a PDF email receipt from SLC each month summarizing your donations, and you save your local clerks and bishops counselors work every Sunday!

    One caveat – local donations (fast offerings, ward missionary, etc) cannot be made this way, but for tithing, it works great.

  12. Kevin, there is a website thing to track personal progress. Too much work though ha.
    My idea to save the church $ is a program app where everyone can scan and get the program on their phones instead of someone printing and folding tons of programs every week. Links to events and missionary emails. Hymns open up. Anyone who has the program active is at risk of the bishop messaging them in-app to give an impromptu testimony.

  13. I can’t believe that with all the scriptures, GC talks and Ensign articles loaded, no one’s suggested a Sacrament Meeting Talk Generator yet. Enter your topic (or have the designated member of the bishopric do it for you) and it will randomly pick a selection of scriptures, quotes, and stories vaguely related to said topic. Perhaps with a slider bar to determine what amount of current events or politics to include. And yes, bundle it with the Holland app, so that the overly preachy parts are highlighted, so you know to emphasize them.

  14. Testimony Meeting Bingo. Center square is always Jesus Christ. When you win, it sends a text to the bishop.

  15. Dave K,
    Are you saying that the Priest’s Buddy App doesn’t come in Primary Voice?

  16. LDSTech Conference has session just for such ideas.

  17. They are going to have to start taking debit/credit cards for tithing soon, or set up for online payments. That app would be helpful. These days I write maybe 3-4 paper checks a month – two for tithing, and one to my barber, who would happily take cash but won’t take plastic. I know non-members who don’t even have paper checks at all.

    I think a Virtual Clerk/Exec Sec app, that allowed you to schedule with the bishop, would be helpful – especially around tithing settlement time. If it had a live update feature so you could delay your trip to the chapel when he was running the usual 30-45 minutes late, better yet.

  18. This is a real project Kickstarter:
    I love the proposed features, and encourage you to back it, too.

    So as snarky as some of these ideas are, there are people really trying to build software that will help people in their church-lives and callings.

  19. it's a series of tubes says:

    NI – see my post above. Ask your financial clerk about direct pay of tithing to SLC via your online bill pay. Hey can get you the form and instructions to get set up.

  20. I’d like an app that would scan a series of photos of a person and rate their righteousness for me based on visibility of bare shoulders and/or garment lines. A handy BYUI-specific plugin would allow for bare ankles to also be taken into account.

  21. Ziff, the great thing about that app is that we already know the answers!

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