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.

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.