HomeBlogYahoo Divides Jerusalem Causing App Bug

Not Just A Political Impact, Also Technical Impact

Published June 18, 2010

Yahoo Maps Jerusalem SplitFirst, let me warn anyone using our Jewish iPhone Apps specifically the ones that use Zmanim classes such as the iPhone Siddur or Shabbat Shalom App or Mikvah App that the times may be wrong. We are working on an immediate fix and hope Apple approves it ASAP.

Now, let me explain why the times may be wrong in certain situations.

A week ago, Yahoo Maps decided to change how they label Jerusalem and split it into East & West Jerusalem. Clearly, this is a controversial move that received a lot of press and buzz, but I don't get into politics. The reason I am writing about it is because it impacted our software.

Our software used 'Jerusalem,' the name, as an indicator to make special changes to the elevation marking and candle lighting offset.

Jerusalem is about 800 meters above sea level. Sea level is one of the many variables that go into the equation of calculating Jewish times. Not only that, Jerusalem holds that the begininning of Shabbos starts 40 minutes before sunset, unlike most other places that say 18 minutes before sunset.

Since we use Yahoo's Maps API for the portion of looking up certain values, it impacted how it looked up Jerusalem and changed it to either West or East Jerusalem. Here is a screen shot:

Yahoo Jerusalem Conflict & Software

As you can see, it is now labeled "West Jerusalem Israel," as opposed to just Jerusalem. Which caused it to enter the candle lighting offset to 18, instead of 40:

Yahoo Jerusalem Conflict & Software

We have uploaded revisions to our apps to fix the issue and we hope this is approved by Apple in a very timely manner. Note: The Siddur update will also include iOS4 capability.

Update: It seems like Yahoo reversed this sometime today, but yet the Yahoo Maps API still has them as East and West Jerusalem. Maybe that will change also soon, but it doesn't technically matter for our purposes.

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Barry Schwartz is the CEO of RustyBrick, a New York Web service firm specializing in customized online technology that helps companies decrease costs and increase sales. Barry is also the founder of the Search Engine Roundtable and the News Editor of Search Engine Land. He is well known & respected for his expertise in the search marketing industry. Barry graduated from the City University of New York and lives with his family in the NYC region.

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