Look Back to the Future: Theotek Podcast #050

On this week’s episode we look back to 2015 and think about what were the biggest stories affecting church and Bible technology. We also look ahead at 2016 and try to predict what the headlines will be at the end of the new year.

Give it a listen below or watch on YouTube above. If you’re a YouTube users, please subscribe to our channel and share it with your friends that might have an interest in Church and Bible Technology.

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.

How to Preach from an iPad or Tablet

It’s very tempting to stop wasting paper in favor of digital notes displayed on an Apple iPad or some other tablet, like a Nexus 9 Android tablet or the new Microsoft Surface 3 or Surface Pro 3. I’ll show you how to preach from an iPad or other tablet. This includes the setup of a simple and easy workflow for writing notes and then automatically transferring notes to the tablet to use for preaching or teaching from an iPad or other tablet.

This will work differently depending on what software and hardware you use. However, I’m going to show you the simplest way to do this almost no matter what kind of hardware you use. It requires Microsoft Word and syncing notes via OneDrive built into Microsoft Word.

Setting Things Up

office365
Don’t pay full price for an Office 365 subscription. If you bought a new Windows PC recently, it may come with one year free. Or go to eBay and fine one cheap.
Shop around for an Office 365 personal subscription for around $50-$60. For families, go for the more expensive Office 365 Home, which you can find for around $70-$90 instead of the full $100/year price. These are all annual subscription costs. You may already have it if you bought a new Windows PC in the last year or so. Also, many people buy a computer with the Personal version but don’t need it so they sell them on eBay for under $50. I’ve seen them as low as $26-$30.

If you don’t mind walking on the wild side, try the Office 2016 Technical Preview, which is pretty stable and free until they finally release the full version. It is a technical preview, which means you should avoid if you hate occasional crashes.

The Office 365 subscription lets you install the Office mobile apps on an iPad, iPhone, or Android device. Install OneDrive on the computer and the mobile device. Sign into the Office 365 subscription on both the computer and the mobile device. Copy over all your old sermons and Bible studies to a folder in the OneDrive folder to start syncing them across all your machines and devices. For more details about OneDrive syncing see the Microsoft helps site.

On a Mac the Menubar icon includes the program's menu. Click it to set preferences.
On a Mac the Menubar icon includes the program’s menu. Click it to set preferences.

To summarize the steps…

  • Buy and sign up for an Office 365 subscription using one of the links above
  • Install Office 365 on the computer or install the Office 2016 Technical Preview.
  • Install the Office apps for your mobile device.
  • Install OneDrive on the computer and on the mobile devices (not necessary, but helpful for looking for documents outside of Word)
  • Copy files from your computer to the OneDrive folder created during the OneDrive for computer installation process (some newer Windows machines come with it integrated into Windows 8.1).
  • Follow steps below for setting up a useful sermon/Bible study template.

Creating Preaching Notes

With apologies to Dr. Haddon Robinson, my preaching professor at Gordon Conwell, I use notes when I preach to remember what I want to say. He thinks all preachers should preach from memory, but I don’t do that. However, I do not use a full manuscript in the pulpit. That way I can look down, read a short phrase or one word to jog my memory and look at the audience as I preach.

I study in Bible software and record research findings in the notes feature of my favorite Bible study software. However, when it comes to finally putting together the sermon, I use Microsoft Word. It works on both Mac and PC and now comes with versions that run on iPad and most Android tablets. For those of you with great eyes, it will even run on a phone, like an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy Android phone.

Here's an example of my sermon notes used to teach from. Notice the red type for Bible passages, green type for headings and use of bullet points.
Here’s an example of my sermon notes used to teach from. Notice the red type for Bible passages, green type for headings and use of bullet points.
Here’s a few tips for making your preaching notes easier to use once you get them on the iPad.

  • Create a template with styles and keyboard shortcuts
  • Use the template each time you create sermon/Bible study notes document
  • In your template reduce the margins to half an inch to maximize screen space since you won’t print this file
  • Use color to draw attention to major points, sub-points, Bible passages and quotations
  • Use bullet points and phrases instead of long sentences so you’re not reading notes but using them to jog your memory
  • Use blank space to show new sections – a new section can come after two or three blank lines or make the headings with space above by default

If you don’t know how to do any of the above, see Microsoft’s great tutorial on creating templates or on using styles.

Now write your sermon. Preachers who preach from a full manuscript should highlight key ideas in the manuscript to quickly and easily draw attention to them. For example, make quotes red and bold or major movements or points of the sermon green (see my screenshot above of a recent Bible study document). Put Bible text in your notes and make it red or some other color.

Save all your notes documents to OneDrive. This makes them easy to open on the tablet.
Save all your notes documents to OneDrive. This makes them easy to open on the tablet.
Once you’ve created the notes, be sure to save them in the OneDrive folder on the hard drive or in the One Drive section of Word 2013 or 2016. This way they will show up in Word for iPad or Word for Android. OneDrive handles the sync process.

Make sure that the OneDrive syncing client installed on the computer is running. It gets shut down mysteriously on my Mac so I have to often start it manually. Once it’s running, right-click on the Menubar icon in Mac or the System tray icon in Windows and open the preferences and check the one that tells OneDrive to open each tim you log onto your Windows or Mac computer. The computer has to connect to Wi-Fi for the syncing to take place. After saving the file, give it a minute to sync before shutting down the computer.

Put a check mark in Open at login to keep OneDrive running all the time.
Put a check mark in Open at login to keep OneDrive running all the time.

Opening on the iPad or Tablet

Find your document in the Recent documents section of the Open dialog box in Word for iPad.
Find your document in the Recent documents section of the Open dialog box in Word for iPad.
It’s time to fire up Word on the iPad or the tablet. If you’re suing and iPad, open the app and look in the Recent files section along the right. If you didn’t already, sign into the same account you signed into in OneDrive and Word on the computer. Give the app a minute after connecting to Wi-Fi or LTE (wireless cellular data service). The document should show up in Recent section.

If the file doesn’t show up in the Recent section, then open it manually from OneDrive. Tap on the Open icon on the left edge. Then tap on OneDrive and drill down to the folder where you stored the document on the computer. It will download the file from OneDrive regardless of which place you open it from. You’re ready to go on to the next section.

On a Windows tablet, like the Surface Pro 3, just open the file inside the full version of Windows.
On a Windows tablet, like the Surface Pro 3, just open the file inside the full version of Windows.
For people using Android, it works the same way. Owners of a Windows tablet, like the Microsoft Surface 3 or Surface Pro 3 can just open the full version of Word. Make sure it’s signed into the same account used on the desktop or laptop. The Surface 3 or Surface Pro 3 benefits preachers wanting to preach from a tablet, because they can write the notes on the tablet and then later open them in Word on the tablet. They don’t need to worry about the syncing process. Just open the file when you’re ready to preach.

Preaching from a Tablet 101

Pur the tablet in landscape mode and tap the View Ribbon tab and tap Page Width.
Pur the tablet in landscape mode and tap the View Ribbon tab and tap Page Width.
Here’s a couple of tips for those who preach from an iPad or other tablet. If you’re like me and have bad eyes, turn the tablet to widescreen mode. Open the document as described above and make sure to set zoom in so that the document fills the screen. To do this, tap on the View Ribbon tab at the top of the screen. Then tap on Page Width to automatically resize the text so it fills the screen. For those who don’t have a problem seeing tiny text, go ahead and use it in portrait mode, but still use this trick to make the page fill the screen.

While preaching, swipe through the notes with a finger as you’re preaching instead of turning pages of written notes.

Alternatives to Word and Office 365

Many people will tell you that there’s a cheaper solution available. In fact there’s a number of cheaper solutions. I prefer to use Word, but you don’t have to. Here’s a list of other options that cost less or in many cases nothing.

  • Mac users can rely on Apple’s Pages which comes preinstalled on all Macs and is free on iPads. This won’t work on Windows or Android.
  • Google Docs is available free on all systems. Load notes in an Evernote note to preach from it.
  • Preach from Bible software notes. Olive Tree seems to work best for this, but most of them will do.
  • Any text editor that opens basic text files. Write in Notepad or WordPad on Windows. Use Notepad or Text Editor on Mac or get an app from the app store.
  • My friend Antoine Wright from Mobile Ministry Magazine and our Theotek Podcast uses images instead of written text and draws them on his iPad using the Paper app By Fifty-three. See the notes he took from one of my sermons recently.
Antoine Wright does "sketch notes" for his messages. Here's an example of some notes he took while I was preaching.
Antoine Wright does “sketch notes” for his messages. Here’s an example of some notes he took while I was preaching.

Which Tablet Should I Buy?

That’s a really hard question, but you can’t go wrong buying an Apple iPad. iOS Bible apps usually work better and come with more features that Android Bible apps with the same name. That’s true for Logos, Olive Tree, WORDsearch, PocketBible and Accordance. In the case of Accordance, there’s no Android version.

Get as much iPad as you can afford. The basic iPad Air 2 model costs $500 and comes with 16GB of storage and no LTE. Add $129 for LTE and add $100 for each step up in storage. So a 64GB iPad Air 2 costs $600 or $729 with LTE. The 128GB iPad Air 2 costs $700 or $829 with LTE. Alternatively get the iPad mini 3. It’s only $400 for a 16GB Wi-Fi only mode. Add the same amounts for LTE and the steps up on storage. To save some money consider shopping around for an older iPad Air or iPad mini 2 or get a used iPad on eBay or Craigslist. Shop in the refurbished store on Apple.com to get an iPad with a full warranty for less.

The best bang for the buck with an iPad is the 64GB models with Wi-Fi only. Most people who own a smart phone can use their smart phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot to get online when away from the home or office. Also, Wi-Fi’s become nearly ubiquitous in most cities in America.

Microsoft-Surface-3-with-iPad-Air

Preachers who need a new laptop and don’t mind a slightly smaller screen should take a close look at the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. It’s expensive, but don’t compare the $800+ price to an $500 iPad or a $300 Android tablet. Compare the price to a high-end ultra-portable computer plus an iPad. The new MacBook, a MacBook Air or a Dell XPS 13 compare nicely to the Surface Pro 3 in terms of power and quality. The Surface Pro 3’s actually a lot faster than the new MacBook. Those machines range in price from $800 for an 11-inch MacBook Air to $1,600 for the new MacBook.

Even if you grab a cheap $300 Android tablet, that’s still at least $1,000 and you’ve got a slightly under powered computer and a budget laptop instead of a high-end computer that’s also a tablet with the Surface Pro 3, which replaces both a tablet and a notebook computer in one and handles preaching from digital notes, writing the sermon and using any Bible software without any problems. It also lets users install other great software like Adobe Photoshop or some games.

The new Surface 3 just released this Spring uses a slower Intel Atom processor and measures at only 10 inches instead of 12 inches like the Surface Pro 3. It’s slower, but still does a great job replacing a low-end notebook and a tablet. The quality compares to a $600-$800 Windows laptop and an inexpensive Android tablet that usually costs about $300. You’re saving a lot of money and only need one device to do most of what those two can do.

However, if you still don’t want an iPad, already have a great Windows or Mac desktop and/or laptop, and just want a decent Android tablet, then get a Nexus 9 (read my review). It’s the best Android tablet money can buy and costs $400. Otherwise look at a Samsung Galaxy Tab S ($400) or Samsung Galaxy Note 10 (under $300 street) or Note 12 (under $600). The Note tablets come with a great pen stylus, like the Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 uses. The Note 12 also comes with a keyboard making it an option as a 2-in-1 tablet and laptop replacement. You can take notes in meetings on it or do mind-mapping, a great way to plan out sermons visually like my friend Antoine mentioned above. Then hook up the keyboard for typing.

Theotek Podcast #023: Church Computer Buying Guide

The Microsoft Surface 3 came out and a couple of our team members got one. Rick Mansfield and I talk about our impressions of Microsoft’s new tablet and how it works as a Bible study tool.

The Surface 3 discussions led us to talking about what kind of computer we recommend users buy for their church. We take another stab at it here with recommendations for a computer for the sanctuary, the pastor and the church secretary.

Subscribe to the Theotek Podcast

Listen to the episode #023 of the Theotek Podcast below or watch the YouTube version of our Google Hangout on Air above. We record the podcast every Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. ET using Google Hangouts on Air. You can get notices of them by subscribing to our YouTube channel or the blog email newsletter. You can also get it on Stitcher Radio or on iTunes.

A Computer for the Church Secretary

In one sense almost any computer will do. The key for a church secretary is being able to work on office documents, print things like bulletins and newsletters, work on the books and handle all the tasks he or she will need to do. So here’s our specific recommendations.

Kevin Purcell

lenovo thinkserver ts140

Most people already know Windows, so find a decent desktop system since they don’t cost as much. If someone at the church can work on desktop systems, install a hard drive and install an operating system, then get the Lenovo ThinkServier TS140 and then put in a fast 256GB SSD. Buy a copy of Windows. This makes for a speedy system that can do dual display with two DisplayPort out ports on the back and 6 USB ports on back and two on front. The reason I’m recommending a server is because it’s fast, powerful and costs just $260 on Amazon. Install this 240GB Kingston SSD for under $90 and buy a copy of Windows 7 for under $70 for a total of $420. All you need is a keyboard, mouse and monitor which she likely already has.

Rick Mansfield

imac

The 21-inch iMac makes a great option for the Mac lover manning the church office. It starts at just over $1,000 and handles everything the average office user would need.

Wes Allen

The MacBook Air plugged into an external monitor and keyboard/mouse can serve as a desktop that’s also portable. It handles all the office work well too. Don’t use one unless you get a larger screen monitor too.

Antoine Wright

ipad

Surprise! Antoine suggests no PC at all. Instead he suggests the secretary using an iPad. That’s a novel choice and we’ll let you ask him directly how in the world he thinks she can really get all of her work done on a 10-inch display that doesn’t run anything more than apps. She’ll likely need a Bluetooth keyboard to go with it and may want a display plus the adapter to plug it in or the Apple TV hooked up so she can do screen mirroring to a larger screen.

A Computer for the Pastor

Pastors need something that portable so they can take it home, on the road or put it on their desk. They also need a little more power since many pastors will want to promote their church with video, pictures and maybe audio of their sermons. That’s why all three of our team suggests a laptop/two-in-one computer.

Kevin Purcell

Since my friends will likely push the MacBooks, I’ll suggest the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. It’s an awesome computer. Wait and MS will likely release a new version (Surface Pro 4 possibly) in the coming months. It’s a surprising fast, powerful and easy to use system that doubles as a tablet and laptop.

surface-pro-3

Add the excellent Microsoft Dock and hook up a monitor, keyboard and mouse and you get a desktop too for a few hundred dollars more.

The Surface Pro 3 costs $799 for the low-end model, but I recommend getting one with at least 256GB of storage for $1,299.

Rick Mansfield

Rick also suggests the MacBook Air for the Apple fans or the Surface Pro 3 for the Windows users.

Wes Allen

The new MacBook will fit well, but might not come with enough power. That’s why a MacBook Pro will always fit.

Antoine Wright

Antoine also likes the Surface Pro 3 for the Pastor. That’s the trifecta!

A Computer for the Sanctuary

The sanctuary computer needs more power than either the pastor or the secretary. According to Memory Tree of Austin such a  system will need at least two video outputs and a dedicated graphics card will help keep it from stalling while playing video and presenting graphics. Some people also use the same computer to record audio and video and stream the worship service online. I recommend getting two if you do all that. Hook up one to the sound system and record the audio and stream the video using that computer. Display the lyrics using software like MediaShout or ProPresenter, which handles lyrics, Bible verses, graphics, video and audio files.

Kevin Purcell

The Lenovo recommended for the secretary will also work in the sanctuary. Install a good video card to get the two outputs for driving the screen and the monitor connected for the operator.

Wes Allen

macbook air

Wes uses the MacBook Air, which starts at $899 for the 11-inch machine. It’s a great system for churches with simpler needs. Wes uses open source church presentation software so it doesn’t require a lot of horsepower. I think most people will prefer the 13-inch system because it gives them more room for sowing the presentation user-interface. He suggests adding an external hard drive for media storage.

Rick Mansfield

The 27-inch iMac brings plenty of power and screen real-estate for running presentations and doing multi-tasking like recording or streaming the service while presenting and controlling the sound board.

Antoine Wright

When we asked Antoine what he suggests for the worship computer, he said, “None.” He suggested only hooking up a Chromecast ($35) or a Tronsmart Miracast dongle (under $30 and connects via HDMI) to a projector. Of course he meant that the church should use either the pastor’s or secretary’s tablet to cast or wirelessly display their content over the projector.

logos bible app for android

Logos Bible Android Apps Updated with Much-Needed Fixes

Faithlife, the makers of Logos Bible Software, updated their Android suite of mobile apps with some much-needed fixes. Android users of the Bible app on Android can get it from the Google Play Store using the links below.

logos bible app for android
Logos Bible app for Android got an update to version 4.5 with some much-needed fixes and improvements.

Here’s a list of the new fixes and features.

What’s New in Logos Bible for Android?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There’s a new setting in the visual settings of the Logos Bible app for Android. Tap on the screen to show the menu and hit the three vertical dots in the upper right corner (see example in the slide show above). Swipe down to the bottom and tap View Settings. Now scroll to the bottom of that screen and notice there’s a visual filter to turn on or off Notes or Community Notes. Notes refers to notes that user adds to a book or Bible. The Community Notes come from the Faithlife Community.

To add a note, select some text by holding down on the screen over a word you wish to select. Drag the note markers that appear at the beginning and end of that word so the selection covers all the text you want to select. Tap on Note. Choose Private for a user note and Community for a public note.

bible text only setttings
Open Bible text only from the Visual Settings menu.

Another visual setting a person can choose is Bible text only, which strips away the verse numbers, chapter numbers and headings in Bibles that include pericope headings. Go back into the settings as described above and just above the two notes visual filters, there’s a Bible text only menu item. Tap it to customize what will show up. The resulting screen allows users to turn on and off the following:

  • Bible text formatting – things like bold or italics
  • Chapter/verse numbers
  • Footnote indicators
  • Non-bible text – the headings mentioned above
  • One verse per line – puts it in paragraph or verse per line mode

Speaking of selecting text, the Logos Bible 4.5 version now includes Smart Selection. This selects text by automatically picking a whole verse or paragraph for you. You can turn it off in the Settings menu.

Logos added support for Logos 6 Custom Reading Plans. A user can make a custom reading plan in Logos 6 that separates the text by more than just chapter or page. Until now these didn’t show up on the Android app’s home page. This is the most important update for my daily use.

User Collections now show up in Bible Search as well.

Improved or Fixed in Logos Bible 4.5

There’s a few things that Faithlife developers fixed in this version of Logos Bible Android app. They are as follows:

  • Scrolling now tracks correctly
  • Updated French translations
  • Improvements to authentication – where one app will now authenticate other apps. Sign into Logos Bible and Vyrso will also use this sign on.
  • Support for unattached notes – users can add general notes not attached to text or Bible verses
  • Notes upgrade – no longer gets stuck in an infinite loop if upgrade requires multiple passes

Various Logos Bible Apps for Android

There’s more than just the one Logos Bible app for Android. Logos offers a suite of app promotion for mobile Bible apps including the following:

  • Logos Bible – the flagship app with most of the features serious Bible students want
  • Faithlife Study Bible – focused on the Faithlife study tools with visual features like maps, images, etc.
  • Vyrso – primarily for Christian book reading
  • Noet – scholarly study focus
  • Verbum – focused on Catholic Christians
  • Biblia – Spanish version Bible app

Also search for these in the Amazon app store for Kindle support.

logos 6 from faithlife

5 Best Mac Bible Study Programs [Video]

For a long time doing Bible study on a Mac meant getting Accordance Bible Software, a couple of lesser known programs without a lot of support for current Bible translations and resources, or installing something like Parallels software to run Windows Bible study software on a Mac. Today, there’s a number of great Mac Bible study programs that run fine on OS X.

Search the Mac App Store and there’s still not a lot of quality there, but that’s alright. Go directly to the source and download the programs below that don’t show up in the app store and start enjoying some excellent Mac Bible study software. To make this list, the program must run as a real Mac app, not a Windows app using emulation software like WINE.

Here are the 5 best Mac Bible study programs in alphabetical order.

Accordance Bible Software

accordance Bible software

Long the standard for Bible study on a Mac, Accordance 11 from Accordance Bible Software offers a rich, powerful package with everything a user might need or even want in Bible software. Some of the best features we get with Accordance include:

  • A true Mac program without any Windows code ported over using WINE or some other overlay
  • Speed with power in one package
  • Excellent search features
  • Original language study
  • Extensive options for screen layout

Learning to use Accordance will take some time, but the company offers some free training to help new users. Mastering Accordance takes time because it’s not simple to figure out. For example, entering a Bible verse may take the user to that verse, but it may not, depending on how the user enters it. Sound confusing? It can be.

Also, sometimes the program displays one verse at a time or it shows the verse in context of a few verses or a chapter or more. The user must learn how to change the settings to make it show what the person wants to see.

Despite the complexity, Accordance is a great program. It offers all of my favorite features in a single, powerful Mac Bible study program, including a feature filled notes tool, lots of top-flight digital content and quick and powerful navigation.

accordance bible lands photo guide

One lesser known feature includes some of the best multimedia content. The company produces what they call the Bible Lands Photo Guide with pictures taken on site in Israel. There’s also a nice collection of artwork centered around Bible topics and passages.

The program relies on Dropbox for syncing user content, which isn’t idea. However, it’s available if needed. The new iPad app also syncs via Dropbox or direct sync over Wi-Fi, but this requires a manual connection between the Mac and iOS app while they’re sharing the same network.

Accordance doesn’t come cheap. They sell Collections starting with the Starter Collection at $59.90, but it doesn’t include a lot. There isn’t much multimedia content and only has the ESV and KJV plus a few older public domain translations. We only get is the IVP New Testament Commentary plus a few public domain commentaries and references. The other Collections include:

  • Bible Study – $199
  • Original Languages – $299
  • Essential – $499
  • Advanced – $999
  • Ultimate – $1,999

Of those, the real bang for the buck is the Essential Collection, if you can afford $500. If not, start with the Original Languages Collection and upgrade as soon as you can afford to. Accordance also offers payment plans.

Buyers can get it directly from Accordance or from the Mac App Store for $50, but I don’t recommend that route since it’s not updated as quickly as the version they sell on their site.

 

Bible Study from Olive Tree

Olive Tree Bible Study App

Olive Tree’s started in mobile Bible software early on, but recently Harper Collins bought them. The company still keeps their mobile apps fresh and now makes a Windows and Mac version. It’s one of the few decent Bible apps available in the Mac App Store.

Olive Tree’s Mac Bible Study program runs on Apple OS X and provides Apple fans a great native Mac app that runs quickly.

The library of digital books available from Olive Tree makes this an intriguing solution. However, it’s not just a simple book reader. Multiple features make it an excellent option for users. Here’s a few of the reasons I put it on this list of the best Mac Bible study programs.

olive tree bible study app resource guide

First, the program runs with speed, offers a healthy library of books, and uses a simple user-interface. The Bible Study app from Olive Tree quickly shows users content about a given passage in the Resource Guide, which opens on the right side of the screen. It lists all the resource in a user’s library that include information about the passage displayed on left. Users can customize what it shows. See the customization option in the screenshot below.

olive tree resource guide preferences

Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the Resource Guide tab from inside Preferences and there’s a link to the company’s online store where users can buy more books. The bookstore opens inside the Olive Tree Bible Study App window. I like that the store’s there if you want it, but it stays out of the way until you do. There’s also a link on the at the bottom of the Library sidebar on the left.

olive tree store inside bible study app

Olive Tree’s Bible Study App includes all the basics expected in a Bible Study program including…

  • Simple and complex search
  • Easy navigation in books
  • Notes features
  • Syncing to backup notes, highlights, and bookmarks

olive tree quick details

One more useful feature shows up in the lower left corner of the app. Hover over a hyperlink and the information that link points to shows up in the Quick Details section. In the example above, I hovered over the word Prophecy in 1 Corinthians 13:2 in the NASB with Strong’s Bible. It quickly showed the Strong’s Dictionary entry for that word. There’s a tiny scroll bar that lets you move up and down in longer entries. Unfortunately, it’s not resizeable.

Bible Glo Premium

glo bible premium media

I only include Bible Glo Premium because of the rich media content that the program includes. Also, it’s available on the Mac App Store for only $34.99. The rest of the app looks beautiful, but doesn’t offer as much for advanced Bible study. The media along makes it worth the cost.

Logos Bible Software

logos 6 from faithlife

One of the most complex and feature filled programs comes from Faithlife. That’s the new name of the company that sells Logos Bible Software.

Subscribe to our Theotek Podcast on YouTube in video format or in audio format on iTunes or Stitcher Radio.

Logos recently received a major update to Logos 6 and we enjoyed a live demo from Faithlife’s Sean Boisen on the Theotek Podcast. You can watch the demo below.

There’s too much in Logos to give a comprehensive overview, but let’s start with the first of my three favorite features in Logos, the Guides.

The Passage Guide is what enticed me to first buy Logos 3 many years ago. Use it by entering a passage into the search box (see the red box on the top left of the image below) or from the Home Screen. Logos searches your library for information related to that passage. The Guide searches the following kinds of books by default:

  • Commentaries
  • Journals
  • Cross References
  • Ancient Literature
  • Parallel Passages
  • Cultural Concepts
  • Outlines
  • Biblical People, Places, Things, and Events
  • Media Resources
  • Logos Media
  • Atlas
  • Music
  • Topics
  • Illustrations
  • Interesting Words
  • Compare Versions
  • Sermons
  • Bookstore
  • Gracewaymedia.com
  • Sermonaudio.com
  • Sermons.Logos.com
  • Sermoncentral.com

That’s a lot of content. Your results may not include everything on this list. Only the groups that include books in the user’s library will show up in the results. Also, the last few come from websites.

logos passage guide

The Passage Guide shows the results in a long list, as seen above. There’s an arrow that points to the right when that section is closed (see the red arrow on the left above). Click it to open that section and the program will search those books of that kind.

Users can add other sections by clicking on the Add drop down link in the upper right corner of the Passage Guide window. See the arrow pointing to it in the upper right of the above image.

Other Logos Guides include the Exegetical Guide, focused on original language study, the Sermon Starter Guide, for finding content to put in a sermon or Bible study, and the Topical Guide, which searches the library by topic instead of passage. Find them all from the Tools menu.

logos copy bible verses

The Copy Bible Verses tool seems like a mundane feature to highlight, especially when a Logos user considers the hundreds of awesome tools. Yet, people copy the Bible into their documents for creating sermon preaching notes, Bible studies, books or any other document created about the Bible. This tool makes it so easy.

The Copy Bible Verses tool grabs the verses the user selects or enters into the dialog box at the top of the window. It can copy from Bibles or other books and place the text on the clipboard for manually pasting into another program or it will automatically format it and paste it into certain programs on the Mac.

logos copy bible verses tool

The feature works with Microsoft Word and the following:

  • Textedit
  • Pages
  • Keynote
  • Proclaim (their worship presentation software)
  • PowerPoint
  • LibreOffice Writer

Logos Data Sets give users detailed information about their passages. This makes it easy to understand the Bible and therefore teach the word. One of the newest that came out in Logos 6 is the Factbook. It gives details about people, places, geographical information and more. See it below.

factbook in logos

The above example shows Bethlehem (of Judea). We get media like maps, images and such. Then we find dictionary entries and references to the place in the Bible. You can’t see the other items in the Factbook list related to this entry. We get Hebrew and Greek Lemmas, a list of library search results from the Logos library, community tags, and more.

PocketBible for Mac OS X

pocketbible for mac

Laridian also got an early start in mobile Bible software. I first used PocketBible on a Palm and then Pocket PC PDA. They branched out to iOS and Android. Their Windows program is a simple tool, but they recently did a Kickstarter campaign to see how many users would want PocketBible on a Mac. The campaign successfully got funded and they produced the program.

PocketBible doesn’t look as pretty as some of these, but it’s simple and fast. It includes a great search feature and a nice collection of books. The designers paid close attention to the layout tool making it easy to set things up quickly to organize the open books.

Along the left we see a mult-use window called the Study Panel that includes tabs for easily navigating the main features in PocketBible. Search, manage bookmarks, highlights and notes, and quickly navigate to a passage.

PocketBible takes advantage of their built-in Cloud Sync to keep multiple machines or devices up to date with the user’s latest information.

 

 

biblestudytools interlinear online bible study site

6 Best Online Bible Study Sites – Part One

Bible study’s going online, not entirely, but increasingly so. So here’s the first three of my six best online Bible study websites that you can use on your new $200-$300 Chromebook that won’t run locally installed Bible software. They will also work great on the many of the new Windows notebooks or tablets that only come with 32GB of 64GB SSDs, like the HP Stream 13 I recently reviewed. With limited storage these computers can’t handle huge libraries from the complex Bible study programs like Logos, WORDsearch, Accordance or PC Study Bible to name some of the most popular.

online bible study sites
You can get a Bible app or stick with your computer and use one of these online Bible study sites.

A couple of the more popular programs that run locally also come in online versions. So check out this list and maybe you can leave your complex and bloated Bible study software off that new Windows tablet or super-cheap notebook with only 32GB of storage. And you could do some study on a Chromebook, which doesn’t let users install advanced Bible study programs.

We list these sites in no particular order.

BibleStudyTools.com

biblestudytools

The first of our online Bible study websites is BibleStudyTools.com. What makes this a viable option for intermediate level Bible study software? Users can search the Bible, read it, track daily Bible reading plans and share scripture via copy/paste or links to post to popular social media outlets. Almost every online Bible can do those things. Here’s what this site offers in addition to the basics.

Bible Study Tools adds some public domain tools like …

  • Commentaries
  • Dictionaries
  • The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
  • Old and New Testament Greek Lexicons
  • Classic sermons from past scholars and preachers

The first of our list of online Bible study sites includes a number of modern and public domain Bible translations. There’s also some limited original language study.

The site will collect user notes and highlights for those who sign up for a free account. The Bible student can mark up their Bibles and save their study findings for future reference.

biblestudytools interlinear online bible study site
The Interlinear Bible in Bible Study Tools online Bible study site uses KJV and NASB as the English translation.

While the site doesn’t offer as many modern reference tools, a user with simple needs can get a lot done. Read a text, highlight it and write observations in a note attached to a verse. Then open the interlinear Bibles based on the KJV and NASB to do some original language study. Search the text for some cross references related to the topics in the passage. This gives any Bible student a good start in understanding their passage.

The Interlinear Hebrew text comes from Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia from United Bible Societies. The Greek text comes from Center For Computer Analysis of Texts, University of Pennsylvania based on Nestle Aland 26.

After these early steps, open some commentaries, dictionaries or the ISBE and learn more about the passage and what others said years ago. Record those findings in the notes. Then find the passage’s Big Idea and come up with an outline using an online word processor like Google Docs or Office 365’s version of Word online.

If I had to compare the site to a piece of Bible software, I’d say it can do almost as much as e-Sword with a few modern translations added to it.

Bible Hub

biblehub

The next of these six best online Bible study websites comes from Online Parallel Bible Project in the form of BibleHub.com. The interface looks a little cluttered, but it’s still a useful site with plenty of resources.

Enter a Bible reference in the top search box and the site opens the verse in all the translations and commentaries available in the left column. Along the right column we find some helpful tools like the context of the passage, cross references and Treasury of Scripture Knowledge.

Across the top of the site there’s a toolbar that helps people navigate to specific passages in any of the supported translations. The site includes a large collection of modern and public domain translations. The toolbar also includes some public domain commentaries. Access them through drop down lists.

The toolbar buttons put many of the tools a click away. We get a parallel Bible button, cross references and a context button that shows the single verse within the pericope. In addition there’s links to a few specific commentaries and more.

Like the other sites, Bible Hub lets me share to Facebook, Twitter and Google+. It includes some nice pictures, maps and outlines.

Biblia

biblia

Logos Bible Software users will want to go first to Biblia.com. They also offer a pair of sister sites – library.logos.com and Faithlife Bible online. So why three sites? Library runs better on mobile browsers, like an Android smart phone or iPhone. Faithlife adds the company’s online study Bible focused social network and using the Faithlife Study Bible. The more pure online Bible site is Biblia.

None of the three Faithlife sites do as much as our first two in this list, but they make a Logos Bible Software user’s library available online and as a group they offer a great selection of tools and features. The makers promise some more advanced tools “coming soon.” I’d be happy if they just integrated all of the features into one site.

When a user signs into the Logos account, they can get access to their reading plans from the left-hand column. That column includes four tabs with the following features:

  • Reading Plans
  • Library list used to open books
  • Search tool that the user can use to search one book or other books in their library
  • Notes tab shows notes on a particular verse or book passage from the Faithflife.com community, but not a Logos Bile Software user’s notes added inside the computer or mobile apps

The main part of the Biblia screen includes two window pane. The user can open books in either side. For example, open a Bible in the center column and a commentary on the right. The two will sync up to the same verse when a user turns the feature on using instructions explained below.

Use a mouse wheel or swipe on a laptop trackpad to scroll through the Bible from Genesis 1:1 all the way to the end of Revelations 22.

biblia book settings box
Click the book cover in the upper left corner of the book’s window to show the settings.

Click on the book’s cover in the upper left corner of the window pane to show settings. The user can do the following:

  • Change the font size
  • Sync the two panes
  • Open the book’s table of contents
  • Change the reading view from column, stretched across both pans or full-screen reading view
  • Toggle the community notes from other Faithlife users (but not personal notes from the computer or mobile apps_

The sharing tool will let you post to Twitter or Facebook, get a link to the verse on Biblia.com to post online or email, and an embed code to post to a website.

library.logos.com

The library.logos.com presents the same basic tools as Biblia, with a few minor changes, in a mobile browser view. Surprisingly, this site, though optimized for mobile browsers, actually does a little more than Biblia.

Click on the three dots at the right end of the top toolbar. This give the user access to some of the great tools that makes Logos Bible Software great on a computer. Those include:

  • Access to favorites
  • Text comparison tool which shows a passage in multiple translations
  • Passage Guide, which finds the verse in all the books in your library
  • Bible Word Study tool, which lets a user enter a word and find that topic or idea on all the books in the library

library.logos.com tools

The Faithlife Study Bible online site presents the Faithlife Study Bible in online for and looks a little like the Faithlife Study Bible app on Android or iOS. We don’t get the Passage Guide, Text Comparison or the Bible Word Study tools from library.logos.com. See it below.

faithlife study bible online

I wish Faithlife would take all of these sites and streamline them into one great online Bible study site. It would make it the best of the six online Bible study sites in our roundup.

Check back for part two of this roundup of the 6 best online Bible study sites.