A New App for the New Pope

The world is home to 1.3 billion Catholics, but over the years many have become distant from their faith. In fact, the United States is home to as many ex-Catholics as practicing Catholics. It’s against this backdrop that Pope Francis was elected in 2013, on a mission to restore faith. The Augustine Institute is an important part of that mission, “imparting ancient wisdom through modern media and technology” to make Catholicism more compelling and relevant.

The organization’s flagship offering, FORMED, is a digital platform featuring a wealth of audio talks, eBooks, films, documentaries, and video-based study programs from top-rated content providers. The Augustine Institute entrusted Spire Digital with the creation of the FORMED iOS app.  

The Mission

Spire accepted the mission, not only of enabling modern day bible study on the go, but of bringing one of the world’s most prevalent and storied religions into the modern era. Translating that mission into project goals, we sought to create a world-class user experience, with load times faster than Netflix.

The Journey

Spire’s product team built an insight-driven user story catalog to guide our weekly sprints. Our design and development teams worked in tandem to deliver the native iOS app in a mere 120 days. Along the way, the team built web services, API and third-party integrations with providers such as Gigya. Understanding that parishioners from all walks of life and parts of the country would be using the app, we engineered it to stream content in areas with poor data and wifi coverage.  

The Reward

Within the first few months, FORMED grew quickly to a half-million users. The platform is fast becoming a vital educational and inspirational resource for hundreds of parishes, and millions of people around the country. What’s more, independent testing confirmed that the app, often referred to as Netflix for Catholics, does indeed outperform the actual Netflix in terms of load times and stability.


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