iSahabi - A Must Have For Your Next Trip To Makkah

By: Marawan Alwaraki, February 15, 2017
Note: The app in this review is for Islamic pilgrimage.

Hajj is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many Muslims around the world. The number of people trying to visit Makkah is significantly higher than what the place can hold, therefore, going for Hajj is a valuable experience for Muslims as they may never get to do it again.

iSahabi is an app that aims to make that experience more meaningful. The app helps you prepare for your trip, learn more about the location you're visiting and buy gifts for friends. It also includes an Ibadah Mode that can help you focus on prayers and avoid distractions during your short and valuable trip.



In this review, we'll look at all the above features and discuss how they can be beneficial, and where they fall short.


Preparations: before your trip




The preparations menu is a visual checklist of what items/tasks you've prepared for. You can tick off things you've done, as well as add more items to your checklist. The app remembers which items you've ticked off even after closing the app from memory, which makes it more useful as you don't need to tick items off every time.

I really liked the simplistic interface here. Tap to tick/untick items and hold to delete any items you've manually added.

This'll come in handy when you've got a lot to prepare for. Rather than worrying about what you did and didn't do, you can keep track of it in the app.

Visits: during your trip




This is the part of the app you're likely to use most. The Visits page shows you information about different locations in Makkah and Madinah. As you can see in the screenshots below, you can find details on the history, location and more for a particular place. Tapping the location button will show help you find the location using Google Maps. Tapping any of the other buttons will display relevant text.



While I am pleased with the vast amount of knowledge provided by the app, I have two complaints. Firstly, the text can be laid out better to make it more readable, and secondly, the location function does not give you the option to open the location in the Google Maps app, but rather, it shows you the location on the map.

Other than those two issues, the Visits section provides so much information on different places in Makkah and Madinah. You can take trips to different places using the location feature, and read more about the place as you head there. It'll surely help make the experience more delightful.

There's a lot of information in the Visits section that I simply can't cover in this review. Rather than being presented with a lot of information about a lot of different places, iSahabi makes it easy to read up on the specific places you want to visit.

Shopping: for your post-trip fun




Buying gifts from Makkah is a tradition carried on by most people going there. People love buying gifts from Makkah for each other and also love receiving them. iSahabi makes it easier to buy gifts for people by helping you make a shopping list and showing you nearby markets on a map.



The app lets you add a list of people you want to get gifts for, as well as keep track of what you bought/want to buy for them. It's amazingly useful and I can see it really simplify the shopping process in Makkah, giving you more time to do other things. Additionally, since the app lets you keep a track of what you bought and what you need to buy, you'll be less likely to forget to buy gifts for someone. It's also useful as it helps you know who each gift belongs to.

Below is what the process of shopping for gifts could be when using iSahabi:

  1. Add people to your shopping list
  2. Add gifts to each person
  3. Find the nearest place to buy gifts

Compare that to the traditional approach and you can already see the benefits of using the app.

Ibadah Mode: stay focused


Ibadah is the process of worshipping Allah. The app lets you turn on a toggle called Ibadah Mode to help keep you focused. The app notifies you when you've used your phone for 45 seconds and reminds you to use your time more wisely. The 45 seconds timer can be adjusted to a more reasonable number in the settings of the app.

While Ibadah Mode can be useful in helping you stay focused, the feature has a few problems.



The first problem is that the feature has no explanation. Toggling the feature on for the first time provides no explanation of what the toggle does, and there's no explanation for it anywhere in the app's settings. The second problem is that you receive the pop-up even when you're using iSahabi.

Conclusion


Overall, I was really pleased with the app. I found most features in the app to be designed and implemented really well. Ibadah Mode certainly has a lot of room for improvement, but the first three features I reviewed work really well. In fact, even if the app only contained one out of the three features I'd still recommend it as useful for Hajj.

Considering iSahabi has all three wrapped in a beautiful UI, I recommend it as a must-have companion if you get the chance to perform Hajj or Umra in the future. The preparations feature may help you relax and be prepared for your trip, the visits feature can help make your trip more meaningful as you learn more about the place you're visiting and the shopping feature helps streamline the gift-shopping process.

People sometimes complain that on trips like Hajj and Umrah, technology and smartphones get in the way of the experience. iSahabi is an example of technology making the experience more engaging.

The app is available for £0.99 on the Play Store with a two-day free trial. Unfortunately, there's no iPhone version of the app yet.

-Download iSahabi from the Play Store

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