e-sword-on-pc is best free stuff bible study app

The Value of Free Stuff: Theotek Podcast #080

Sometimes churches or believers can’t afford the high-end or expensive option in many categories like Bible software or web services, so we’ve got some of the best free stuff or free alternatives for you. We shared our favorite freebies that churches, pastors, and believers can use to help build the kingdom of God in their context without wrecking their wallet or bank account balance.

Below the video you’ll see the list of freebies starting with the Bible Software free stuff and then a simple list of the other free stuff we talked about in this episode of the Theotek Podcast.

Bible Study Free Stuff

e-Sword is the best free Bible study app available. They make both PC version and a Mac version, that’s not free but really inexpensive.

e-sword-on-pc is best free stuff bible study app

Sticking with Bible study Rick Mansfield showed off the free Accordance Mobile app, which people can download on their iPhone or iPad and get a ton of free content, especially if you sign up for a free user account with Accordance. Rick showed off the great ESV interlinear Bible available in the app.

accordance-mobile-esv-study-bible-app

Antoine showed us his favorite Bible app called Verse3. We had the developer of Verse3 on show #044. It’s not free, but only costs $5.

verse3 ipad app

Olive Tree offers a free version of their Bible app for almost every platform you could want. Download the app on your computer or mobile device, get some free content and then, if you prefer, add some premium content later as needed.

olive tree ipad app
Olive Tree Bible app

I showed off some free online Bible study sites that I wrote about a while ago in a two-part series. Here’s part two.

Finally, LaRosa also reminded us that WORDsearch, his former employer, offers what used to be called Bible Explorer. It’s now called WORDsearch Basic and it’s now their free option.

wordsearch-basic

The Other Free Stuff

Here’s our list of other Free Stuff to help you do your work for free or almost free.

  • WordPress website management system also called a content management system or CMS. You can set up a free website and even buy a domain from a company like Hover that will forward that domain to your free WordPress site.‘
  • YouTube for video hosting and for playing videos. Find tons of content from entertainment to music to educational content all on YouTube. Of course we use it to stream our Theotek Podcast.
  • Microsoft Sway is a great presentation app that lets users share images and pictures. Think of it as a PowerPoint or Keynote alternative for online presentations.
  • Facebook Live lets you record and host live video which people can then find later in recorded form on your Facebook wall.
  • Libre Office offers a full free office suite with alternatives for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more.
  • Google gives away tons of free tools, including free office software like Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms.

iPhone 7

We ended the show discussing the new iPhone 7, which Rick and I both had our hands on. I did an unboxing of the wrong phone. Watch me get totally disappointed because T-Mobile screwed up and sent me an iPhone 7 instead of the iPhone 7 Plus I actually ordered. Watch the above video to hear what Rick thinks of his iPhone 7 Plus.

 

Bible Apps on ChromeOS and More: Theotek Podcast #072

We have a few topic for this week’s Theotek Podcast. We’ll see how well Android Bible apps run on a Chromebook with the new Android Apps on ChromeOS on the ASUS Chromebook Flip.

Olive tree running on Asus Chromebook Flip
Olive tree running on Asus Chromebook Flip

Olive Tree Bible Study 6 for Mac came out this week so LaRosa Johnson will show that off. Finally, Rick Mansfield comes to us live from Asia where he’s training for Accordance. We’ll learn about the perils and pleasures of traveling internationally.

Check out the end for our Favorite Things too.

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.

Theotek Podcast #022: Apple Watch This

The Apple Watch is out and a few Bible apps wants to put the Bible on your watch. We talk about that and some other new developments in Bible software and more church tech on this week’s episode of the Theotek Podcast #022: Apple Watch This. LaRosa Johnson, a former regular on Theotek and a member of the Olive Tree team also joined us during the second half.

I found that Olive Tree isn’t the only game in town on the Apple Watch. In fact the Bible app from LifeChurch and YouVersion also has an Apple Watch app. There are a number of others too.

We also talked about Stephen Johnson’s new ESV Bible app. He also Tweeted about it running on Apple Watch.

Here’s a screenshot. The app does more than it used to, thanks to the great coding of Stephen.

esv bible app from crossway
ESV Bible app from Crossway developed by Stephen Johnson, formerly of Olive Tree.

Rick and I will be getting our Surface 3 tablets and we’ll talk about them next time. Mine’s in and I really like it.

Microsoft Surface 3 Right Side

 

The crew also discussed Microsoft’s wish to turn your phone into a desktop replacement. Hook up a Windows 10 phone to a display, keyboard and mouse or a dock with those things connected, and you can replace a desktop using the phone as the PC instead.

Android already lets you do this. Hook up a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Either connect an HDMI display or wirelessly cast the screen using a Chromecast or Miracast receiver, remember to use nothing but top glass protectors to take care of your watch. This gives you a desktop style functions with the same Android user-interface.

While LaRosa Johnson was with us, he discussed Bibletek. He didn’t mention his new book Raw Material. Get it on Amazon. It’s a nice basics for the Christian disciple.

larosa johnson
Follow @LaRosaJohnson on Twitter and get his new book Raw Material.

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.