iPray: Understanding the Relationship Between Design and Use in Catholic and Islamic Mobile Prayer Applications
Author(s)Bellar, Wendi R
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AbstractThis dissertation examines the relationship between religious mobile app design and use in Catholic and Islamic contexts. Understanding this relationship is important because it provides a clearer picture of how mobile technology is being integrated into social life, how religious practices are evolving as they are engaged in new technological environments, and how different technological and religious affordances create a mobile space for religious practice. This dissertation uses two methods to examine both design and use of Catholic and Islamic prayer applications. First, 65 Catholic and Islamic prayer app descriptions and the apps themselves were textually analyzed to identify and explain what technological and religious affordances were present, and how those affordances were combined in different ways to create three main approaches to prayer app design. Second, a Catholic prayer app and an Islamic prayer app were chosen for an app user test, which revealed data about how participants were engaging and understanding prayer apps at the time of app use. Key findings from the textual analysis phase of the dissertation include: developers? use of traditional religious authority, such as pastors or imams, and algorithmic authority within app descriptions to justify the authenticity of their apps; a list that identifies and explains what technological and religious affordances were present within the apps themselves; and how developers combined these affordances that reflected a translation design approach, a mobile environment design approach, and a multi-purpose religious app design approach. Key findings from the user-testing phase of the dissertation include: an engagement with technological and religious affordances that are indicative of the translation design approach; the importance of reminders and alert features to provide a way for users to micro coordinate their religious lives; a lack of engagement with features that provide users a way to share prayer app content; and a negotiated and complex framing of app use for religious practice.