Zmanim for YU App
We live in a world of technology. Nowadays, everything can be done on your smartphone with the tip of your finger. YU has taken part in this progressive world by bringing many new apps to your App Store or Google Play Store. You can now sign up for the inter-campus shuttle on the YU Mobile app, check YU sports scores on that app, and even check your Caf-Card balance on a third party app. But the latest app brought to the YU student body, alumni, and Washington Heights residents is one that can seemingly please both the administration and the Roshei Yeshiva: Zmanim for YU.
This app lists all the minyanim on the Wilf campus. The app's simple user interface lets you quickly see the next minyan, or view a map of all the minyan locations with their respective minyanim. The app works as well on the Apple Watch. With over 500 users, users love the app and continue to use it to enhance their tefillah. As Cheely Birn, a freshman in YC, recently stated, “I live in Rubin [Hall] so I only know the zmanim for the Rubin Shul. Whenever I need to find another minyan, the app is there for me.” The information for the app comes from an API (application programming interface) by YUZmanim.com, so it is regularly updated to cater to changes or additions such as holiday zmanim, zmanim during breaks, or even slichot zmanim.
The creator of the app, Netanel Ziazoff, an MTA graduate and a current student in City University of New York, felt a lot of frustration while living on a kibbutz in Israel where the only way he could find out zmanim for a minyan was through a printed sheet. To solve that, he created an app. Once he got to New York, he found himself heading to YU for minyanim often, yet felt the same frustration he felt on the kibbutz. A couple of months later, version 1.0 was born. Netanel remarked, “after stumbling upon the YUZmanim API page, the idea clicked. I thought about how, as an MTA student, I would've loved an app that would detail all the minyanim on campus.”
One question that most people who know the ins and outs of YU are posing is why the 2:30 library Mincha minyan is not featured in the app. The simple answer is that the data on the app is from YUZmanim.com, and since they don’t report unofficial minyanim, it cannot be featured on the app. The reason this is controversial is that non-Glueck minyanim for Shacharit and Ma’ariv make the “official cut,” while this alternative Mincha minyan for some reason does not. Netanel has hope for featuring this minyan in the future, but for now, he hopes that the regulars in that minyan are not offended that they are deemed unofficial.
Netanel also described how the latest update was released right before Rosh Hashanah, and it featured slichot times for Elul. Around the same time, version 3.0 was released with many new features including a map view and an updated home page.
In light of this, we can expect improvements in usage and visuals, and more zmanim as Netanel keeps on working.