Qibla is the direction that Muslims face during prayer. It points people around the world to the Kaaba, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the site of Islam’s most sacred mosque.
Although there are already a number of apps that help Muslims find the Qibla, a new webapp from Google is set to make the search easier and accessible right from a web browser.
On Monday, the global tech giant launched Qibla Finder, a web app that uses augmented reality to help Muslims face the Kaaba while praying.
Najeeb Jarrar, a Google product marketing manager for the Middle East and North Africa, sad that when people search for “Qibla” on Google, they’re often looking for a website or app that gives them concrete advice about the right direction for prayer.
“Which explains why the word ‘compass’ often pops up when we look at Qibla-related search results over the past five years,” Jarrar said in a press release. “It would be a lot easier to simply hold up your phone and have it tell you the right direction to pray towards.”
Although it’s accessible from a desktop computer, Qibla Finder works best on a mobile device. Users visit qiblafinder.withgoogle.com and allow the app to have access to the device’s location. After that, users can hold their phones up and turn their bodies around until they see an emoji of the Kaaba in the distance.
Once they’re facing the right direction, a bright blue line will appear on the screen. Google will enlarge the Kaaba and even calculate how far away it is.
On Android devices, the webapp will access the phone’s camera during the experience, which means the blue line will appear to have been drawn on top of whatever users are looking at. This function is not available on iOS devices, according to Gulf News.
Google launched Qibla Finder during the holy month of Ramadan, but the service will be available after holiday ends.
It’s all part of a package of services that Google provides to help Muslims celebrate Ramadan. Along with the Qibla Finder, Google has also curated a list of popular Muslim vloggers on YouTube and a series of Ramadan stickers for Google Allo, an instant messaging mobile app. The company is also having a Ramadan sale on games and apps.
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