New App Will Tailor Apple Watch for Frum Jews


apple-iwatchAfter months of anticipation, the Apple Watch is finally here – and the Jewish world is ready for it, with apps designed by RustyBrick, said company CEO Barry Schwartz.

“Judaism is such a time-oriented faith – you have to pray at certain times a day, the Sabbath begins and ends at specific times, and so on, so it’s strange we haven’t had a real ‘Jewish watch‘ until now,” he said. “I think the Apple Watch could fulfill that role.”

When Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the product last September, Apple said it would go on sale in March or April of 2015 and the basic device would cost $349, with higher prices for devices with more memory and upgraded styles (according to some reports, the company is planning to offer an 18k gold version, which will cost about $10,000).

Also to be announced will be the first Apple Watch apps. And while RustyBrick won’t be able to release its apps until it gets a first-hand look at the device, the basic technology is there, and Schwartz expects to bring the apps to market within weeks of the device’s appearance in Apple Stores.

That is, assuming that he can get his hands on one, which won’t be an easy feat considering the mob scenes that are expected in Apple retail outlets as fans clamor for the latest gadget from their favorite tech company.

“Even in its sixth iteration – when everyone who wants one already has one – the demand for iPhones sets demand records each time a new one comes out, so you could imagine what is going to happen when the Apple Watch goes on sale. There will be an unprecedented demand,” said Schwartz.

Eventually, though, those watches will get into the hands – or, rather, onto the wrists – of observant Jews, and for them, RustyBrick is busy developing and adapting (from their iPhone versions) a host of apps, including a version of its Zmanim app, which provides the proper times for daily davening, when Shabbos begins/ends, alerts on when to break for Minchah and the like.

“It’s considered rude for a person to take their phone out in a business meeting to check an alert, but an observant Jew can’t stop the clock in order to delay the obligatory time for reciting mincha, the afternoon prayer,” said Schwartz. “The Zmanim will provide an alert via the watch, so they can quickly glance at it and see how much time they have to say the prayer during the required time, before nightfall.”

Besides Zmanim, RustyBrick is adapting its Brachos app – which provides the text of brachos on food and Birchas Hamazon. In addition, the company will be releasing a Watch version of its Kosher app, which provides information on where the nearest kosher restaurants are, directions on how to get there, who the supervising rabbis are, etc.

Both those apps, unlike Zmanim, are “text heavy,” but Schwartz doesn’t think the smaller text on an Apple Watch will turn people off from the device.

“Obviously, the surface of the Watch is smaller than that of an iPhone’s, but people who have tested it tell me that the text is very crisp and clear, and quite readable,” said Schwartz.

Read more: The Times of Israel