The application includes the Breviary prayer book — in Italian, English, Spanish, French and Latin and, in the near future, Portuguese and German. Another section includes the prayers of the daily Mass, and a third contains various other prayers. [...] Monsignor Paul Tighe, secretary of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communications, praised the new application Monday, saying the Church "is learning to use the new technologies primarily as a tool or as a mean of evangelizing, as a way of being able to share its own message with the world."
As hardcore as the Catholic Church is about its traditional ways of doing things, this is surprising to me. Recently, the pope has publicly condemned various aspects of the Internet and online culture. I guess it isn’t all bad from their point of view but I wouldn’t have expected the official endorsement of an application of this sort.
I’ve actually been using an iPhone application, SotoTimer as a meditation clock recently. My time sense isn’t the best when meditating, which I do largely alone, so I like to have a clock on a timer. I don’t want to see it running (so it doesn’t distract me) so I like to have it out of the way. My iPhone is a pretty good solution for this as I can just set it down when I come in and ignore it. SotoTimer has a nice quiet set of chimes which allows you to differentiate sitting and walking meditation and you can set it to just vibrate (which is easy to hear in a quiet room). It is available here.
It would be nice to have a good application for displaying the various daily practices, which include the chanting of different sutras, as well. That would be an analogue to the iBreviary application of the Catholics above. Currently, I use a book with color coded bookmarks to flip back and forth between sections. I’m not sure if using an iPhone or an iPod Touch would be more distracting or less (leaving aside the fact that I need to turn off its ability to receive phone calls at such times).