Bible Mark Up App Presents Bible: Theotek Podcast #063

I’m always looking for some cool ways to present God’s word in my preaching and teaching ministry like the app Bible Mark Up. When I started watching John Piper’s Look at the Book video series on YouTube, I loved the simple and elegant black background with white Bible text that he uses in these videos. He draws on the text and screen using colorful marking pens. I investigated and discovered that Piper’s using something that inspired the developer of the app Bible Mark Up. The developer liked the videos and wanted a mobile version and so he created Bible Mark Up for Android and then ported Bible Mark Up over to iOS. We talked to Ernie Lail of Maranatha Technologies on this week’s Theotek Podcast seen below. The audio is at the bottom of the page.

Bible Mark Up App

This free iPad or Android app inserts the Bible text from one of a number of translations on a black background. The teacher or Bible student uses the 9 colors to draw on the screen in Bible Mark Up. Watch John Piper to use a tool similar to Bible Mark Up, which inspired the app, in his “Look at the Book” video series on YouTube (seen below).

Logos Bible Software users can also buy these videos along with a nice study guide that goes with the videos. The free video series puts the videos and the study guide right inside Logos Bible Software.

Bible Mark Up app used by John Piper Look at the Book

Piper draws circles and lines and underlines the text showing relationships between ideas and words. He uses colors to connect one part of the text with another. It’s simple but skillful. I’ve begun using it in my teaching ministry and plan to do more.

The app includes some cool features. It’s got a lot of international translations in addition to the ESV, NASB and KJV. Sadly, they don’t offer my preferred HCSB translation. For teachers who use original languages it includes Greek Textus Receptus and Hebrew Aleppo Codex.

We also get access to some public domain works like Strong’s, Lexicons and some Commentaries all online. I haven’t used anything but the English Bible texts, since I don’t plan to do my study in the app. I just use it to present.

Bible Mark Up scripture selection

Ernie Lail, the developer of Bible Mark Up, told us that he created primarily as a study tool. He wanted something that lets him mark up the text like Piper does in his videos.

Here’s the workflow. The opening screen asks the user to type in a Bible reference (see above). It will then copy the text to the black screen in portrait orientation at first. Tap on the end of the line to change the line breaks. At the bottom of the screen there’s a button that reads Modify Breaks. Tap it to move the next line up to the current line that you tapped. Repeat this till the lines all show up the way you want. Then tap on Scale & Move at the bottom and pinch to zoom or shrink the text. Remember to keep the text large enough so people in the back of the room can read the text.

When you’re ready, turn the tablet into landscape mode and tap on Draw. Use the colored inking and markup buttons to draw when you wish. I will often underline or circle key words, put parenthesis around a phrase I’m discussing or draw lines to show relationship between words or phrases. Use multiple colors. For example, if a text is discussing one topic but has some sub topics, circle or underline all the words related to one of the subtopics in one color. Then use another color to visually link the next sub topic. Use lines to connect pronouns with the proper noun they represent.

Bible Mark Up demo

The app could use an update and here’s what I’d include?

  1. An erase button that removes all the markups in a single tap. Ernie told us he may add that soon.
  2. I’d like the ability to pay extra for other modern translations or reference works. I understand the app developer can’t make it free if he adds paid content, but I’d love to pay to get that kind of content.
  3. Add shapes like lines, ovals, boxes and more.
  4. Change from black to white background.
  5. If you change the background color then you need to change the text color. It’d be great if I could highlight a word or words and change just the color of those words.

Even if the developer never adds the above features, it’s still a worthwhile tool to install on your iPad or Android tablet.

Our Favorite Things

This week we actually started off with the first recommendation.

Ricoh Theta S 360-degree Camera

Watch as a I demo the Ricoh Theta S camera at the top of the podcast. It’s a nice little 360-degree camera that uses two ultra wide-angle fish eye lenses to take a complete 360-degree photo at the tap of the button. It also shoots HD video. Users can post the photos and video online to the company’s website made just for their shots or to YouTube in the case of video. Use the editing app to trim video or another one to create interesting images using the shots taken with the camera. Check out the examples below:

high peak church taken with ricoh theta s

The shot above shows the interesting results you can get with the Ricoh Theta S and the image editor on iOS.

The front of High Peak Baptist Church #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

I haven’t posted any videos I’d want anyone else to see. Here’s one from the online gallery at

Passing the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

I love my camera, but it’s not cheap. Get it on Amazon for a couple bucks less than at Ricoh’s online store. It’s $350.

Dark Sky for iOS

dark sky app iphone

Rick showed off the great weather app called Dark Sky. They call it “hyperlocal” weather. It’s incredibly accurate even nailing the start and stop times for rain. There’s an Apple Watch extension built into the app.

iPhone SE

apple iphone se

LaRosa John chose to highlight the new iPhone SE. It’s an iPhone 5s with the power and guts of an iPhone 6s without the 3D Touch screen. Apple sells it for a little less than they sell their flagship phones. He likes the smaller size and wants to pick on up.

Accordance Mobile 2.3 Update: Theotek Podcast #056

What’s new in Accordance Mobile 2.3 for iOS? Rick Mansfield from Accordance Bible Software shows off the new features in this big update. But first we offer Our Favorite Things – recommendations from each member of our Theotek team.

We advertised this episode as Rick Mansfield’s showing off the new Accordance Mobile 2.3 update with all the new features. He had some difficulties due to instability on Google’s part. We took a look at Down Detector and they said Google was experiencing issues.

What’s New in Accordance Mobile 2.3

accordance mobile slide over feature

Here’s some of the great new features available in Accordance Mobile 2.3. First up, we see the new slide over feature that came in iOS 9. The user can slide from the right edge of their iPad and show a column of app icons that support slide over. Tap on one to see open an app window that takes up only about 20% of the screen. Use the handle in the middle of the border between the two apps to slide in and take up a quarter to one half of the screen.

In addition to the slide-over feature, on newer iPads Accordance Mobile 2.3 now supports side-by-side. The above description explains how this works. The feature isn’t available on older iPads or on the iPhone at all.

Accordance Mobile now shows up in Spotlight search. Search for a key word or passage and the iPad’s Spotlight Search feature will look inside Accordance and find the word. It uses your top-ranked bibles, but doesn’t work when the Library page is open.

Watch our video podcast to see it in action. For more information head over to Accordance’s blog.

Our Favorite Things

Wes Allen recommended the Unitek 3 Port USB 3.0 Hub with Gigabit Ethernet adapter built-in. It costs $20 and gives users exactly what the name suggests.

Antoine Wright recommended the 831 Podcast. The podcast host is Brandon Fasig and he says, “831 youth podcast [is] meant to strengthening your faith.”

LaRosa Johnson recommended the iOS weather app Dark Sky. I like it too because it gives more than simple weather data.

At the end Antoine talked about a couple of opportunities he’s involved in that you can take advantage of. Find out more at the following:


Verse3 a New iOS Bible App: Theotek Podcast #044

With the new iPad Pro coming out this month and iOS 9 supporting side-by-side windows of 2 apps, a tool like Verse3 makes a lot of sense. This simple Bible app that doesn’t use the same Bible display framework we’re used to. In fact it takes the focus and puts it on the person listening to a sermon or Bible study. The user can open multiple verses on the screen at a time and add their notes inline with those verses.

Here are a few of the benefits of Verse3 ($4.99 in the iTunes app store).

  • Fast and simple to use
  • Minimalistic design
  • Fuzzy search feature where you can search for love and it returns all forms of that word
  • Share your notes and verses in Dropbox as text files

What would you use Verse3 for? Collect a list of verses for a study. Keep one verse on-screen while the speaker or teacher refers to others. Add notes before or after a verse.

Take a look at the app in the screen shot slide show below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In addition to learning about Verse 3 we learned about Antoine’s trip to Australia for two interesting conferences related to church and Bible technology. He told us about an app from 5fish called Gospel in Every Language. Learn more at the 5fish website. The conference he attended can be found here.

accordance mobile 2 highlighting symbols

5 Ways Accordance Mobile 2 is Vastly Improved

Accordance Bible Software released a new version of their mobile app awhile back. It includes a bunch of great new features that make it vastly improved over the earlier versions, which I never really used much due to the sub par quality. However, these new features entice me to open Accordance Mobile more than ever before. Here’s the 5 ways that Accordance Mobile 2 is vastly improved over the earlier version.

Here’s Accordance’s own video highlighting the update.

Quickly Link and Unlink Parallel Panes in Accordance Mobile

accordance mobile 2 link unlink button
In Accordance Mobile 2 there’s now a link/unlink button. Look for it at the top of the window above just right of the window divider. Tap it to unlink the second window.

It seems strange, but Accordance didn’t handle unlinking of window panes well until version 2. Now the app includes a button on the toolbar that quickly links or unlink the two open window panes.

Open two window panes as normal. Then tap on the link button to either link them or unlink them. When the user unlink the two, the second pane will not scroll along with the first. This makes it easier to deal with commentaries where a person wants to read an entry from a previous passage without moving the Bible text to the earlier verse.

Download All Option in Library Manager

accordance mobile 2 download all button
There’s two download buttons on the toolbar. One downloads just the selected books. The other downloads all of the books in the user’s account list.

When installing books in Accordance Mobile 2, there’s now a download all button that makes it easy to quickly install the entire Accordance Mobile library. Before we had to select each book and then download them.

Other mobile Bible apps need this feature. I’ve begged one app developer to add this feature since the iPad first came out.

Text Display Improvements

accordance mobile 2 text display options
The text display button looks like two A’s. Tap it to show the above box.

Accordance rewrote their text display engine for a more attractive and complex set of features. Now users can change the fonts and color of text. The font button opens a dialog box with the following customization:

  • Display brightness slider
  • Font larger/smaller buttons
  • Day and Night Theme selector
  • Font selection
  • Font color
  • Background color
  • Link to full display settings in the app

Awesome New Notes Features in Accordance Mobile

accordance mobile 2 notes
The new text display engine makes notes better too.

Accordance really improved the notes features in Accordance Mobile. For example, users can now format their notes with things like font, font size, the color and format of the font (bold, italics, underlining). Users can also copy their notes and share them with others via iOS share sheets. Define words in notes and search for selected text in notes. Accordance Mobile 2 now lets users change the background color of their notes as well.

iPhone 6 Plus Capability

The iPhone 6 Plus lets people use apps in landscape mode thanks to the large 6.5-inch screen with high-resolution retina display. Accordance uses all that screen real estate to show more content in a side-by-side parallel pane view.

Notifications Section Today Screen Shortcut to Accordance Mobile

accordance mobile 2 notifications shortcut
Accordance puts a shortcut widget in the Today section of the iOS Notifications pull down screen.

Thanks to the notifications section in iOS, Accordance Mobile can put a shortcut to the app in the Today section. Slide down from the top of the screen and tap on the Edit button at the bottom of the Today section. You’ll see a list of available Today section widgets. Tap the plus icon next to any one of them, including Accordance Mobile. This puts the widget in the list at the top of this screen. Rearrange the order of the notifications Today section widgets by dragging on the handle that looks like three horizontal lines to the right of the item.

In the above screenshot I’ve only got on link. However, all recently opened resources will show up. It could list many more than the one book like mine does above.

Expanded Action Menu

accordance mobile 2 notifications action menu
A new fuller action menu pops up when a user selects text in Accordance Mobile.

Now when a user selects text in a book or Bible text, a new expanded action menu appears above the selected text with new features.

  • Copy
  • Highlight
  • Clear
  • Share
  • Search
  • Amplify
  • Define
  • Note
  • Bookmark

The Search and Amplify features won’t show up on the action bar that appears above selected text when there’s a Bible with Strong’s tags opened, like the ESV, HCSB or KJV. In that case a box opens up (called the Instant Details) below the word with a definition from Strong’s and two hyperlinks with Search and Amplify there instead.

Better and More Highlight Options

accordance mobile 2 highlighting symbols
Select text and tap highlighting in the new Action Menu to bring up the highlighting box. Tap on symbols to show the above screen.

In addition to the traditional color highlighting of text, Accordance Mobile 2 adds highlight symbols. Tap the symbols tab that shows up in the highlighting dialog box and choose a symbol. That symbol will show up below the text of the verse selected when the use added the highlight.

There’s also a Recents tab which shows the user’s recent highlight symbols or styles. Also, uses can add other highlight styles and choose them by tapping the Highlights title.

2 More Free Resources

Who doesn’t love free stuff. Accordance Mobile 2 will include 2 more free resources.

Accordance added the Dr. J’s Bible Study Methods tool, which teaches people who to study the Bible using Dr. J’s methods in Accordance. He’s the guy in the video above. Use this as a tutorial for Accordance like a quick start guide to studying the Bible with the program’s powerful features. They also added Bill Mounce’s Biblical Training course. There’s 17 of them available free.

Get more info at Accordance and download the app from the App Store.

Theotek Podcast #027: Uncommon Men Under an Olive Tree

Olive Tree recently released a new version of their Android Bible by Olive Tree for Android with a brand new display engine and a few other great new features. We talked with our old friend and founding Theotek Podcast team member, LaRosa Johnson who works at Olive Tree. He shared all the cool new features.

If you want to download the new Android build, then update it from your Android device using the Google Play Store app or start new at the page in the Play Store.

olive tree book strongs

For more on what’s new in the app, see my post about it this week. My June Christian Computing Magazine column covers it as well. It’s not yet available, but will come sooner than normal since our editor will be pushing it out closer to the beginning or middle of the month instead of the end like we used to do.

Uncommen App and Strategy

Our other guest was Dee Lanier of Uncommen. That’s not spelled wrong. They named it that way to highlight that it’s for men. Dee told us about their app on iOS and Android that helps men keep each other accountable as fathers, husbands, and just men connecting with other men.

The app uses a strategy based on competition. He said it was kind of like a fantasy league pushing men to be real men for their wives, kids and at work. Watch the demo of the app below.

olive tree book book chapter verse chooser

Bible by Olive Tree for Android Update Worth Wait

Olive Tree let their Bible by Olive Tree for Android app languish in mediocrity for a couple of years, but that ended this June with a nice update to the Bible+ by Olive Tree app for Android. It sports a whole new polished look that feels more like a modern Android app than the earlier version. What’s new and should you get Bible+ by Olive Tree for your Android phone or tablet?

Install the app from the Google Play Store. Also watch my interview with LaRosa Johnson of Olive Tree. There is also the Movie Box, which you won’t find on the main store, even though it can entertain with hours of movies. He will be a guest on the Theotek Podcast on Friday, June 5.

Bible by Olive Tree for Android with Material Design

One of the most obvious changes comes with the new look of the user-interface in Bible by Olive Tree for Android. Google promotes something called Material Design, which means they’ve created some standards that they hope app developers will follow. Material Design gives Android apps a unified look and Bible+ follows the standards quite well.

The Book, Chapter, Verse Chooser shows off the new look of the app. It’s more colorful and that makes it easier to see what’s on screen and interact with it.

olive tree book book chapter verse chooser
Material Design in the Bible by Olive Tree for Android app.

Olive Tree describes their new look as “bold color and flat icons” which is correct. The app looks better and closer to the iOS version, which Olive Tree clearly put more effort into developing before this. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another two years to get a nice Android update.

Take a look at the Strong’s dictionary pop up to see an example of the more attractive looking user interface. Open a Bible with Strong’s tags and tap on a word. The box pops up giving the Dictionary Definition, the Strong’s number for the word, and two buttons. One button searches the Bible for that Strong’s numbered word. Searching is fast. Tap on a result to jump to the verse.

Tapping on the Look Up button will open a list of all the dictionaries and user notes for that word that the app can find. Tap one to open it inside the pop-up. This makes word studies easy.

Better Highlighting

Now, in Bible+ users can highlight more than just a verse. They can select one word or a phrase and highlight it. They also added the ability to highlight non-Bible books, which is hard to believe you couldn’t do before on Android.

olive tree book highlighting
Select text and the toolbar shows up. Tap Highlight to add your highlights to any text in any book, not just whole verses in a Bible.

In either case, select what you wish to highlight and the highlighting toolbar pops up hovering over the text just above the part selected. Tap on highlight. The new highlighter box pops up with the various colors the user can use to highlight. Tap on one of the highlighter colors and it applies the highlight to the selected text.

The highlighter tool includes five colors by default (yellow, pink, purple, green, and blue). You can add new colors or rename the included colors with things like “sermon notes” or “sermon illustrations” or whatever you like.

At the bottom of the highlighter color selector box there’s a couple of buttons. Tags let users add tags to a highlight to make it easier to find. Categories will gather highlights into a category.

Under the Hood Improvements

Some of the best improvements won’t show themselves obviously to the user. However, over time they will notice that things run smoother and faster. The text gets displayed better and overall performance is better, at least that’s the promise.

olive tree wait
The app still stalls a little while drawing the screen and loading a book. This show sup for about five seconds.

On my Nexus 9 and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, two of the newest Android devices running Android Lollipop 5, usually run Bible+ faster, but opening a new book still results in the Android circle that shows the OS is still working and you have to wait for it to finish what it’s doing. In other words, the devs at Olive Tree need to do some more work optimizing the app’s speed and user-interface.

Once the app does draw the screen, which usually takes about five seconds, and loads everything, the app’s clearly faster and scrolls smoother. The handle that opens the second window is smooth and lets me open the Resource Guide quickly.

olive tree tables
The new display engine allows them to add visual elements like table and text wrapping around images.

Thanks to these under-the-hood improvements, new kinds of resources become possible. For example, study Bible’s with things like tables, can now show them as tables. The iOS version could do this for a long time, but the Android app was way behind in this area until now. If you have the NIV Study Bible app you will see an example of this. Open it to John 3 and you’ll see a table in the notes. The included screen shot comes from the ESV Study Bible Intro to Matthew.

This same display engine lets them layout with text flowing around visual elements. That seems like a minor thing, but the Android app couldn’t do it before this version. Thankfully Olive Tree caught up with 2015.

The Great Resource Guide

While the Resource Guide isn’t new, it deserves mention since it’s such a useful feature. At the bottom of the window you’ll notice a handle. Pull it up by tapping and holding on it and then swiping up. This opens a second window.

olive tree book resource guide settings
Open settings to customize what resources show up in the Resource Guide.

At the top left corner there’s a drop down box. Tap it to show the list of available resources. Library opens the user’s library so they can open a second book in that second window. Tap on My Stuff to open things like Notes, Bookmarks, Highlights, or Book Ribbons. Tap on the Resource Guide, which serves as a digital research assistant ready to show the user all of their books related to the passage in the first window.

On the top right corner, there’s a settings icon. Tap it to customize what kinds of resources will show up in the Resource Guide. It also lets the user order their resources. For example, I’ve put my Commentaries first, followed by Introductions, People, Places, Maps, and then left the rest of the items on the list alone.

Now when I open a passage in the first window, the Resource Guide will show me all of my commentaries in the second window ready to open them to that passage. It also shows me book introductions so I can learn what’s going on in that book of the Bible. Then it shows me information about people, places and any maps that might relate to the passage. The Resource Guide offers other things like related verses (cross references), notes that I’ve written on the verses in the passage, images from books in my library that are tagged with this verse or topics from the verses and much more.

Other Bible apps offers something like the Resource Guide, but the Bible+ app from Olive Tree executes it in one of the best ways available. This reason alone makes it one of the best mobile apps available.

Other New Features

Here’s some of the other new features available in the new Bible+ for Android.

The new app display engine can finally show Interlinears, like the ESV Greek-English Interlinear. It goes beyond what the Strong’s tagged Bibles offer. Tap on the Greek word and it shows the word, Strong’s numbers, parsing information and will search for the word in all forms, not just the form in that verse. Tap just the Strong’s number to see the Strong’s dictionary entry, like you would with the ESV with Strong’s tagging. If you want to search for the word as it’s used in that verse with its present format, it will do that too. That way you can find other instances of a word with the same parsing.

Bible+ for Android uses a new font that looks better and supports formatting better. It’s more readable. Open the app and you’ll notice how prettier the text looks. There’s a crispness that wasn’t present before.


Part of me wants to say, “About time!” I used to use the Bible+ app on my Android phone and iPad all the time. It was my go-to app for public use as I listened to preaching, took part in group Bible studies and even when I preached or taught using my Android phone as my Bible. As the app fell further behind other Android apps, I retired it. Even though the app continued to improve on iOS, I didn’t use it because I wanted a consistent user-interface on both platforms. Other apps from Logos and YouVersion did a better job of keeping both platforms up to date and fairly consistent.

Now that Olive Tree finally updated the Android app I’ve used it more. I’m still leery of their continued commitment to Android. After this update will they again start to ignore the app in favor of other projects? They put Apple Watch support in the iOS app almost right away, but Android Wear watches have been around for a year, yet we still don’t see Android Wear support. That’s a signal to Android fans that they might not yet be serious about Android. Let’s hope they are and the next six months will tell the story.

There’s room to improve the app since it does crash on occasion. While writing this article, it crashed three times in about two hours. That’s got to get fixed and I’m confident Olive Tree will.

Should you give Olive Tree another shot on Android? Definitely! Former users should grab the update and poke around in it. If you use another app and are happy with it, download a free version and give it a look. I doubt that many will make the switch based on this build alone, but you might. Olive Tree offers a large library of books which makes it an attractive option. The improved Android app deserves a close look from old users who moved on out of frustration, like I did.