Phone App

Share one feature you would include in a phone app for Freemasons . . .

What feature would improve your enjoyment of Freemasonry?

A question posted to a few Masonic Facebook groups to start a discussion.  The replies fall into the following categories:

Lodge Locator Function:  Meeting Calendar / Location Map / Alarm Timer:

 

Push notices for all lodge meetings tied to GPS. When I’m traveling, I would get notified of nearby lodge meetings, without searching.

Definitely meetings – locations and times with push notifications optional. Maybe a list of the acting officers of the lodge, with lodge contact information.

A sharable calendar that won’t bother your installed calendar!

A travelling Mason’s App, were he can look up lodges in his vicinity, see when they meet, constitution, secretary’s details etc. and then a handy link into Google Maps, so he can be directed to the front door.

An app where Grand Lodges and their corresponding Blue Lodges could register. This app could have special events, stated meeting dates, Trestleboards, etc… posted by lodges. Brethren can post things as well. Just an all around Masonic app. Can’t be approved to log in without approval from said lodges.

Times, dates and locations of various lodge meetings (Blue & appendant bodies).

Definitely a way to promote our lodge events and learn about events at other lodges in my area. An easy method to send messages to officers of other lodges. “Hey! we are having a spaghetti dinner to raise money for joe”, “cool, the lodge in the next town is having a fish fry, let’s go”, and “we are doing an MM and need someone to play joebodoodle”.  Communication is the key.

Online Booking Function: Pre-book dining / drinks for festive board:

 

The ability to book in for dining, to order drinks and obligatory whisky on the way to a lodge meeting.

Visitor Checker:

 

A method to check visitor’s Grand Lodge is recognized by yours.

A way of typing in a name and getting a green check mark = Mason, or red x mark for non-Mason.

Ability to vet members through the Grand Lodge register.

Links to Knowledge Base Platforms:

 

Daily quotes from famous Masons.

Solomon nuggets.

Explanations of specific parts of various different Masonic regalia.

A glossary of symbols and their meaning…????????

A Masonic Library.

 Full organ playlist in case the organist doesn’t show up.

Tiled LOI Group Function:

 

The ability to always deliver ritual of by heart and word perfect.

How to memorize ritual.

Ability to practice with known Brothers in complete security and secrecy.

A Virtual Reality style lodge room for practicing / rehearsing purposes.

Digital Copies of Ritual:

 

Ritual books in digital versions

Rehearsal App functionality  – audio book functions to help learn your words, and the correct pronunciation.  see Rehearsal App on Apple App Store

Workings and tips – how to learn them.

Security:

 

A secure way to ensure that that all who download, and on it are brothers, so that a non-Masonic person can’t use it.

 Good security, and possibly a way to prevent screenshots on certain sections of the app.

Smartphone Apps

 

Find My Lodge and Masonix are both Lodge Locator Apps available from the Google Play and Apple App Stores.

Both these Apps are for UGLE specific lodges in England and Wales. They include lodge and HRA Chapter details, meeting dates and map integration to Google Maps for live navigation to Masonic Temples.  In some cases, there are email links to Lodge secretaries.

Masonix App will also be able to provide online booking direct to Lodges / HRA Chapters that have set up bank details for online payment processing.

Neither App currently (as of June 2020) holds data for UGLE Districts overseas, Grand Lodge of Scotland, Grand Lodge of Ireland, or Mark Masons’ Hall.

 

Knowledge-based platforms that are accessible via the internet, it is possible to bookmark a link to the web browser favourites, or save an icon to the home page on the mobile device.

Visitor checking for Grand Lodge Membership Validation would be a possible future feature. In some countries this would need to pass General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). The data would also need to be very current. It would need to be used with caution.

Tiled LOI function. This is a Grand Lodge issue as much as a technical issue. It is technically possible to hold LOI rehearsals using the Zoom Meeting App. But, although the meeting is secure, the rooms where the members are located in their homes are not necessarily secure. Therefore, UGLE and some other Grand Lodges have not provided permission for LOI meetings to take place via Zoom.

Digital Ritual Books. At present it is not possible to offer digital versions of ritual due to copyright concerns by the publishers.

Team App is used by some Grand Lodges as a Document Store. Once the Team App is loaded on the mobile device, the user then searches for the appropriate Grand Lodge and submits a request to join. On approval, they have access to the documentation, normally PDF files. For example, UGLE Provincial Grand Lodges use the Team App for Pathways Documentation.

Mark Masons Hall use the Team App to distribute many different documents in PDF format, provide links to their web sites and social media accounts. There is also a calendar showing AGMs for the appendant Orders.

WhatsApp is used by many lodges for group chat and instant messaging. This is a good method to reach all members in the group with a single message. It is also possible to share photos, videos and files. In some cases, this is a more effective communications platform than emails. Membership to the group is controlled by the Group Admin.

Google Forms are successfully used by some Masonic units, for online meal bookings by lodge members and invited guests. The booking information is saved to a spreadsheet, and that data is used by the Masonic hall caterers for meal planning, and Lodge Secretary to record attendance and apologies.

Facebook Groups are also being used by many Grand Lodges and private lodges as an effective communication platform for lodge members. Facebook Groups can remain private, so only lodge members can see who are members of the group, and the messages posted in the group.

Facebook Pages are very different. These should be used for public facing social media marketing. If a private lodge does not currently have a website, then a Facebook Page is a perfect solution. It is free to host, requires minimal setup and ongoing maintenance, and is searchable in Google. In fact, a Facebook Page has better search engine results in Google than a normal website.

Conclusion

 

No one phone app will offer a full solution and provide all functions. In the world of mobile apps, it is very common for users to have many apps, that can work together, each with a specific function. And each will do their specific function very well.

Smartphone Apps

 

 

Find My Lodge    Lodge Locator UGLE only
Available on Apple App Store
https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/findmylodge/id1481405465

 

Team App – Document Store – International
https://www.teamapp.com/

 

Solomon Knowledge base platform – UGLE only / website
https://solomon.ugle.org.uk

 

Message Platform – Whats App  International
https://www.whatsapp.com

 

Live Chat – Zoom Meetings  International
https://zoom.us

 

Private Members Facebook Groups
https://www.facebook.com/

Some of you may still be in lockdown but hopefully it won’t be long before you are able to return to some semblance of normality. However, for many people, the easing of restrictions – although welcome in most respects –  is causing some (understandable) anxiety.

We have been, and will continue to be, in unchartered territory for the foreseeable future – the situation has forced unprecedented change upon us and no doubt affected our mental and physical health.

We will need to be kinder, more compassionate, and perhaps less materialistic as we move forwards again in a precarious world.

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