Unchanging Truth for a Mobile World: Launch of the TTB Global App
by TTB International Director, Gregg Harris
One of the most universally acknowledged aspects of life today is the growing influence of technology. Almost everywhere we turn, we see new types of hardware and software applications touching more areas of our lives. However, nowhere is the influence of technology greater than in the area of communications.
The growth of mobile phone use around the world is staggering. Experts are predicting that the total number of mobile phones will exceed the world population sometime this year! This does not mean that everyone on earth will have a mobile phone, because in many countries, it is common for people to own more than one. It does point to the voracious appetite that humankind has for this kind of communication device, and there are no signs that this hunger will diminish.
Originally, cellular phones allowed people to have conversations regardless of their location. Then other services such as text messaging augmented the ability to stay in touch. But the introduction of smartphones represented a huge leap forward, opening up entirely new ways for people to receive information and entertainment. In 2013, an estimated 1 billion smartphones were sold, and that number is anticipated to continue to grow rapidly.
What does all of this mean for the global ministry of Thru the Bible? It represents a wonderful opportunity to deliver our programs to people in new and exciting ways. Smartphones use applications software (more commonly known as “apps”) to perform a multitude of functions.
Several years ago, Thru the Bible launched an app for the English-speaking world. Those who have the appropriate mobile device may listen to all of our radio programs at any time and as often as they wish. Our app users can also access Dr. McGee’s notes and outlines and contact the ministry. We praise God that the TTB app has been downloaded more than 100,000 times since its inception!
The tremendous response to our English app, along with the amazing growth of mobile phone technology around the world, led us to develop plans for an app that would serve our listeners who do not speak English. After months of planning and development, we are thrilled to announce the launch of the TTB multi-language app!
Any listener in the world with the appropriate device can use this exciting ministry tool to hear TTB in more than 30 different languages. We are working closely with our friends at TWR to get as many of our language broadcasts as possible into the system. Our eventual goal is for every one of our TTB language programs to be accessible via the app.
One of the most exciting features is the language contextualization of the app. Imagine going to a webpage that is in a language that you do not speak. This is the experience many people around the world have when they encounter English websites. Even if there is a radio program in their language, they are unable to access it if the writing is in a language they cannot read. When a user of the new TTB multi-language app chooses their language, every screen will be written in that language so they can easily navigate to the content they desire.
This new technology is incredibly cost-effective. The one-time development costs were a fraction of a typical annual budget for a single foreign language broadcast. The ongoing expense of delivering the content to the listeners is based on actual usage, and even when many thousands are listening, the cost is quite reasonable.
Our radio broadcasts remain vital to reach many in our world who do not have access to the technology required to utilize the app. However, the trend is clearly for smartphone technology to become more common, even in developing nations. Our goal is to offer Thru the Bible to as many people in as many ways as possible, so that no matter where a person lives or what language they speak, they may encounter the living God through His unchanging Word.