olive tree bible study

5 Best iPad Bible Study Apps

The iPad assists mobile Bible study thanks to a lot of iPad Bible Study apps. But which one should you use? How good are they and what can a person do with them. Let’s look at the best iPad Bible Study apps to help preachers, teachers and Christians study the Bible.

iPad Bible Study Must Haves…

Recently we differentiated between mobile Bible Study apps and Devotional or Bible reading apps.  Please see that post to understand the difference. The apps below fit in the more advanced Bible Study Apps sector. Users can use them for Bible reading and devotional Bible reading as well, but they are more than that. Here’s what I think every good Bible Study app should include that might not show up in a simple devotional or Bible reading app.

  • Original language tools
  • References like commentaries, Bible dictionaries, atlases and more
  • Dual pane view showing the Bible in one and a reference or language study tool in the other panes or showing two or more translations on the screen at once
  • Feature-rich note taking within the app

The apps below all give us more than the four features above, but these are the bare minimum. I think they should also be good at helping you do your Bible reading. No one should have to install two Bible apps on a phone, tablet or Chromebook.

Logos Bible

UPDATE: Note that the screenshots and descriptions are of the latest beta of Logos Bible for iPad that will hopefully get released soon. Read more about it in the Logos forums and if you have an Android device you can actually sign up for access to the beta and download it now.

Logos Tools Menu Button
The Tools Menu button on the bottom shows most of the same menu as the one above the book window.

The Logos Bible app is unique compared to the other apps in this roundup. It offers a Home page that shows a ton of content by default. I actually turn off much of this. Here’s what you get right after installing the app.

Logos Home Screen Settings

  • Featured Bibles – top Bibles that Logos thinks you’ll like and want to use.
  • Group Invites – Logos has the Faithlife community a kind of Christian social network that focuses on their products. You get invitations to join certain groups and they show up here.
  • Today’s Readings – reading plans for Bible readings, book readings, etc. Tap on them to see the most recent reading for that plan.
  • Reading Plan Invitations – like the group invites, these offer potential reading plans like a Gospels in 90 days or Read Mark in a month.
  • Verse of the Day – a graphical representation of a new verse of Scripture each day that you can quickly share online.
  • Faithlife Today – the news about  Faithlife, their products or interviews and skills development videos all focused on Bible study.
  • News – text-based news links to the Logos blog.
Logos Library Button
Tap the Library button send from the left to bring up this screen.

In addition to the Home screen, we also get other tabs (buttons across the bottom of the app’s screen). These show your Library, Bible, Work Spaces, and a Plus button to add  a new work space/tab. The Library button opens your list of books in the library so you can open them. Each book opens in a new Work Space screen. The Bible button opens a list of Bibles so you can add one to a new Work Space. The Work Spaces shrinks each work space and you can swipe between them. This screen also lets users sync the various screens. If you have a copy of the Bible on one Work Space and a copy of your favorite commentary on another, you can sync them so that as you navigate through the Bible from book to book or passage to passage, then the commentary will follow and keep up. Move from Matthew 18 to John 10 in the Bible and a synced commentary or Bible will also move there.

Logos Work Spaces Button
The Work Spaces button brings up this screen so you can add, remove or sync screens.

The app lets users tap and hold on a word and a context menu opens. Here’s what the context menu will show you.

Logos Context Menu
Press and hold on a word to bring up the context menu.
  • Copy – copy the selected text
  • Look up – do some language study or look up in a dictionary
  • Search – search your library, the Bible or book for selected text
  • Share – post to social media or send to friends via a text message or an email
  • Highlight – just like you would some text in your paper Bible with a highlighter
  • Note – add a digital margin note like you might in your paper Bible
  • Clipping – collect content in a clipping document while researching a topic or passage
  • Visual Copy – creates an image of the text to share online or save for presentations

In the upper right corner there’s a menu button (three vertical dots) that give options for the more powerful features like:

Logos Tools Menu
The Logos tools menu shows up in the lower toolbar and above the book window.
  • Change Resource – replace the current book with another
  • Search – search the Bible or open books and the entire library
  • Passage Guide – research tool finding your text in reference tools like commentaries and more
  • Make a Note – adds a note to the current passage or part of the book
  • Add to Favorites – like a bookmark feature
  • Text Comparison – shows the text in multiple translations all on-screen at the same time
  • Make a Clipping – collect content just like you do with the button in the context menu above
  • Exegetical Guide – runs an original language research of the present passage
  • Visual Copy – same as the context menu above
  • Share – like the context menu above share content with others
  • Book Info – shows the front of the book info like publisher, author, etc.
  • View Settings – change things like text size, font etc.

The iPad in recent versions of iOS offer a kind of widgets that Android users enjoyed for a long time. In iOS you find these on the iPad when you swipe down from the top of the screen and then swipe right to show the list of Notification Widgets. Logos has a widget that displays their Verse of the Day image that you’d also see on the app Home screen. Tap it to launch the Logos app and it opens to that verse in your currently open Bible.

Logos Notification Widget
The Logos Notification Widget only shows the verse of the day image.

The Logos Notification Widget doesn’t do as much as the Accordance widget. I wish it had a version chooser or let you open recent books read like the Accordance widget.

logos base packages

Users can get the app free, but it works best if you own a library of book from Logos.com. Get one of their Logos Base Packages to bundle a library of books and save money versus buying each book individually.

Bible by Olive Tree

olive tree bible study

While Logos may offer more complex features, Olive Tree offers a simpler app with a great set of tools for doing advanced Bible study on a mobile device. In fact the Resource Guide might offer the simplest method of accessing all the content in the library related to a given passage on any of the mobile apps in this roundup.

The Bible shows up in the left side with the Study Tools on the right. Inside Study Tools you’ll find the Resource Guide along with a library button, a notes button, and the Lookup button, which lets you look up words in word search in dictionaries, the Bible and your notes.

olive tree bible study resource guide
The Resource Guide is like a research assistant that retrieves your library resources related to the passage in the Bible window to the left.

The Resource Guide is one of the Study Tools and it will arrange your library content by category. All the Related Verses, Commentaries, other Bibles, People, Topics, Maps, Charts, Introductions and more will show up in lists one after another. Each list will show your books ready to open to the content related to the passage or subject found in the verse showing in the left hand window. Tap them to see the content.

olive tree bible study
The Olive Tree Bible Study menu lets you access your library, the Store, your user-created content and the app’s settings.

On the top left there’s a menu button to show…

  • Suggested Resources – an ad for a book Olive Tree’s pushing at that time
  • Store – link to buy new books from within the app
  • Messages – content from the blog often written by our own Theotek contributor LaRosa Johnson
  • Reading History – the list of texts you’ve read in the Bible
  • Notes – Shows your user notes
  • Highlights – show  your user highlights
  • Book Ribbons – shows your user book ribbons which are like favorites
  • Saved Passage – similar to Book Ribbons with a list of passages you’ve saved as bookmarks
  • Tags – a list of all the tags you’ve created so you can make your own topical Bible
  • Sync – lets you sync your app notes, ribbons, etc. with Olive Tree’s servers
  • Help – the Olive Tree help system

olive tree bible study toolbar

Across the top of the Bible Screen we see two toolbars. The topmost toolbar has the following:

  • Library – opens your library
  • Reading Plan – opens the reading plan screen with suggested reading plans you can add or your own reading plans
  • Store – opens the store to buy more books
  • Quick Settings – change things like font, screen color (low light verse regular) and others
  • Search – search the Bible
  • Ribbon – add a ribbon to the current top most verse

Below the top-level toolbar you’ll see a second toolbar that shows two buttons, the Select Verse button that opens a Book/Chapter/Verse style navigation tool and a lock button that keeps the toolbar from disappearing. I prefer this and I’m glad Olive Tree added this button for use on the iPad. The iPhone version is best without the toolbar showing so you don’t cover up too much of the text on the smaller screen.

The strength of Olive Tree’s Bible is the simplicity and great library available. It also has the best notes feature available in these three. However, the weakness comes from the desktop app. The Accordance and Logos desktop/laptop apps offer far more than Olive Tree’s.

Olive Tree Store Online

Download the app for free and get some free books to try it out. Then check out their store for more tools. They don’t focus as much on bundled libraries of books, although they do offer them. I like this because you buy only what you want or need.

Bible Study With Accordance Mobile

At first look, the Accordance Mobile app seems like little more than a basic Bible and book reader tool with split-screen display options. Admittedly, I’m not a frequent user of Accordance Mobile. However, as I dig deeper and take time to discover the features, I realize they a user can do a lot with what looks like very little at first.

Accordance Mobile

The Accordance user-interface opens, after you’ve downloaded books, to show a Bible. There’s a handle on the right side that opens a second window with another book. Tap the title of the book to bring up the library list of books. The left window library lists shows a list of the installed Bible Texts while the right shows Texts, Reference Tools like Commentaries or Study Bibles, and your Notes files.

Open the Notes file and you’ll see your notes. To add a note, select a word or verse and a menu pops up above it. Tap on Note and screen offers to add the note to one of your Notes files.  Start typing inside that pop up box. It has a button to change the font, size, color and make the font Bold, Italics or Underlined. Sadly, even though you can see your notes on the right, you can edit them in place. To edit a note, select it and it offers to let you edit the note with a full-screen editor. This covers up the text. I like to make observations about the text in my notes and I can’t see the text in Accordance. That’s the same problem you have with Logos. At least in Logos you can open the Note file and edit in place. It’s hard if you have a lot of notes in your file.

Unfortunately, I experienced a problem with Notes Sync via Dropbox. They don’t use their own servers and rely on Dropbox to sync between the desktop and mobile app. ON the desktop it’s automatic, but not on mobile. That’s a huge weakness of Accordance if you’re a heavy notes user like me.

Accordance Mobile Context Menu
Select text and this menu will pop up. Also an info window pops up.

If you open a book with Strong’s Numbers tagging attached to the text, like the ESV or HCSB or KJV, then you can select a word and a box will pop up showing the original language information. You get the English word, Strong’s number and the Greek word. Then it shows your favorite Greek word dictionary. OT shows Hebrew. Then tap on Search at the bottom of the pop up and it finds that word through the NT. The Amplify will let you search by word or the key number.

Accordance Library Sync and Settings
Open the Library screen with the button in the lower right to show this screen.

The Library button lets you download your books over the Internet. You can also sync those if you have both the desktop and the iPad connected to the same Wi-Fi network. It doesn’t work if your desktop isn’t connected via Ethernet.

The second button from the left lets you sync via Dropbox or via Wi-Fi. Notes and user tools sync via Dropbox while the syncing directly over Wi-Fi syncs your books from the desktop to the iPad.

accordance bible collections

Accordance users will get a number of free books. However, it will work better if you buy a package to use on your iPad. The free Accordance Lite includes some good tools like ESV with Strong’s plus some public domain books. To add books you can buy books or get a Collection. They start with the free Lite package and go up to more advanced sets like the Pro sets in English, Hebrew or Greek that each cost $999. If you want all three you can get what they call the “Triple” package in the Learner or Discoverer levels. There’s also a graphics-focused set of tools called the Graphics Learner, Discoverer or Master.

PocketBible Bible Study

laridian pocketbible

I love PocketBible from Laridian because it’s the first mobile Bible study app I ever used on my PocketPC a long time ago. Then I moved to Palm and there it was. I went to iPhone and then iPad and it was still available. On Android, eventually it came along for the ride.

When you first install the app it offers a great help screen that shows you how to use the app from the get go. It’s the best on-boarding experience for a new user. Then you’ll get a single window, but no Bibles yet. Open the button at the bottom of the toolbar on the right. Find the Add/Remove books and download all of your books. If you’re not registered, you can do that in the tutorial that opens when you first install.

After you get some books installed open a book using the top button on the toolbar. You can use the Settings (third from the bottom) to add a second window. The rest of the buttons on the toolbar include:

  • Open Books
  • Navigate to passage
  • Search
  • Back
  • Forward
  • Calendar for Bible reading plan
  • Button to open the toolbox pane (more on that below)
  • Panes chooser lets you pick how many window panes to open at a time
  • Font settings
  • Reading controls for books with audio included
  • Settings
  • Menu where you can add/remove books, change other app settings and control books

The toolbox holds another toolbar with six icons as follows (see the right most box in the image above):

  • Find
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights
  • Notes
  • Find Notes
  • Journal

Select a word, phrase or more and a menu pops up above it with buttons as follows:

  • Copy – copy the selected text
  • Share – post to Facebook or send it over text or email to name a few
  • Find – search the selected text
  • Look Up – search your favorite dictionary
  • More… – opens another menu with a number of other tools, functions and book controls

Laridian offers a number of books to buy. They offer PocketBible Library Collections ranging from $60 on up to $380. You can also buy books or commentary sets.

PocketBible isn’t as polished as some of the other tools. However, it’s one of the easiest to learn and costs less for collections than some of the above options.

Splashtop 2 Remote Desktop

splashtop computer chooser

This last option’s not a Bible app at all, but rather a utility that lets you connect to a desktop. Install the Splashtop Streamer utility on your Mac or PC and let it run automatically. Download the app for iPad and run it. After you log in you’ll see all of your computers running the Streamer listed. Tap the one you want to log into. It opens the computer and shows the screen.

splashtop accessing Bibleworks on my windows pc

Now you can control anything on the computer including a full desktop class Bible software program. Above you’ll see it running with Bibleworks 10 showing on the screen.

Bible Study Apps Versus Devotional Apps

With all the Bible study apps available on Android, iOS, Windows and Mac, it’s easy to get confused about which app a person should use. I’ll post a few recommendations over the next few weeks, but today I want to discuss a fundamental question. What do you plan to do with the app?

People use their Bible study apps in different ways. How do you plan to use your Bible study app? Will you merely read the Bible, track your reading with a reading plan that the app provides or do you want to create your own personalized Bible reading plan? Will you highlight the passages on occasion or add personal notes, like you can do with a pen or pencil in the margin of your paper Bible? Maybe you want to work on a research paper for a Bible class in college or seminary. Some people need to translate the Bible into another language as part of a translator team or for a tribe in the jungles of South America in mission work.

congerdesign / Pixabay

There are apps that can handle all the above functions of reading or studying the Bible, but many apps work better for some of the things listed above and don’t do others that well.

Bible Reading and Devotional Bible Study

bible app youversion lifechurch
YouVersion Bible app for reading and devotions.

Some people want little more than a book reader that displays at least one translation of the Bible and that’s it. Maybe they want to search the Bible and even track their daily Bible reading. We call these devotional Bible reading apps. The list of common ways people describe these kinds of apps include…

  • Bible reader app
  • Devotional Bible app
  • Bible app
  • Bible study

The last name is a misnomer. I think Bible study apps include features that simple Bible reading or devotional apps don’t often include. Also, calling a devotional or simple Bible reader app a Bible app is like calling both a minivan and a NASCAR vehicle a car. They’re both cars but different people drive them. Jimmie Johnson, the driver of the #48 Lowes car in NASCAR may drive a minivan on occasion, but a man who drives his kids or grandkids to and from school or baseball practice probably never drives a racecar.

Here’s what every good devotional Bible app or simple Bible reading app should offer users.

  • Bible reading in all the popular translations like KJV, NIV, CSB or ESV and more.
  • Highlighting of verses
  • Add personal notes to the Bible app
  • Sharing on social networks
  • Copying to other apps to send a verse in email or a text message to your spouse or friend
  • Search the text of your translation
  • Customized display of text (fonts, sizes, background colors)

Would you expect any other features in a simple Bible reading app? Please respond in the comments to add other features that you would include at a minimum. But read the next section first, since many of the other features a person wants in their Bible app will mean they really need more than a simple Bible reader app. They want a Bible study app.

Bible Study App

olive tree bible on android
Olive Tree Bible study app on Android tablet.

Bible apps with more than the above features typically fit in the class of Bible study apps. These app developers target scholars, pastors, Bible teachers in Sunday school or informal communities of Bible students or people who want to study the Bible for personal development and spiritual growth.

The list of basic minimum features you should expect in a quality Bible study apps include…

  • All of the features included in a Bible reader or devotional Bible app
  • Includes other resources like commentaries, Bible dictionaries, atlases, study Bibles, language study tools like Strong’s dictionaries and lexicons
  • Advanced search tools that do more than find a list of verses with the word “grace” or “holy” like boolean searches
  • Multiple windows showing at the same time on-screen
  • Notes with advanced formatting
  • Library management that shows all of your books and lets you download or even remove books
  • Offline reading and study tools
  • Sync
Logos on Android without Internet
Logos on Android without Internet

Some of the best apps in the iOS or Google Play Store don’t include all the features in the above list. For example, Logos Bible from Faithlife doesn’t let you do Exegetical study (original language study) on their iOS and Android app without an Internet connection. However, I’d still call it one of the better mobile Bible study apps available.

What do you expect in a serious Bible study app? Let me know by commenting below.

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 theta360.com.

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.

Conclusion

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.