Bible by YouVersion Downloaded 500 Million Times: 5 Reasons Why
500,000.000! That’s half a billion. That’s how many times people like me downloaded the Bible app from the folks at YouVersion by Life.church. I recognize that I downloaded the app probably 20-40 times alone over the years, but even if the 500 Million downloads represent 100 Million actual people, that’s a lot of people reading the Bible.
What makes this simple Bible reading app so popular that such an enormous number of people installed the app on their iPhone, iPad, or Android device? After all, it doesn’t have any commentaries, Greek or Hebrew word studies, or other theological tools. It’s mostly just a Bible reading app with social media features and sharing built-in to name a few features.
Let me share with you the 5 reasons why users downloaded the Bible app 500,000,000 times. Not only will you learn what sets it apart, but how to get the most out of the simple Bible app.
Bible App is Simple
I usually recommend complex Bible study tools like the apps from Logos Bible and Accordance Bible. If that’s too complex I drop to the second tier of apps from Olive Tree Bible, Laridian Pocket Bible, or a few other third-tier Bible study apps. Most of my readers want at least basic original language study in Greek or Hebrew, commentaries, Bible dictionaries, and complex searching. The Bible App includes none of these advanced features and that’s why so many love the app. They prefer simplicity over power.
Fire up the app and you’ll find the Verse of the Day on the Home tab displayed in the text, visual form, and as part of reading plans that include that verse. There’s also a video about the verse (see image above).
Tap on the Bible tab at the bottom of the page to read the Bible in your preferred translation. Users can quickly move to a new passage using the button on the top of the screen. The other top center button opens the library of translations and you can read almost any translation you can think of in multiple languages (see image below).
Other options let users open multimedia resources related to the current passage. You can also change the look of the text…
While reading a passage, tap on a verse to…
Select the verse
Highlight a version in multiple styles
Copy a verse
Create a visual image of that verse
Share the verse
Compare the verse in different translation
Add notes or bookmarks
Create a prayer list item
Find related verse
You will also see little note icons that display translation notes.
If you want to select multiple verses, keep tapping on more verses.
There’s a lot here, but compared to more complex research apps, the user interface is quite simple to use and figure out.
Bible App Includes a Large Collection of Simple Reading Plans and Translations
The Plans tap at the center bottom of the app shows you all the reading plans available in the Bible App (see left image above). Users can find a large collection of reading plans based on topics, books of the Bible, or sections of Scripture, like the Sermon on the Mount.
When users select one of the plans, they can do the following:
Read the Bible
Share you progress with friends inside the app or on social media
Get notification reminders to read your daily reading
Search for plans
Notice in the image above that you can find Reading Plans in the Discover section too (2nd from left button on the bottom – see image above).
Bible App Shares to Social Media and More
The Bible App not only helps people read the Bible but helps them read it as part of a community. Like other social media networks, the Bible App lets users follow friends and see their progress, Bible images, and more.
Go to the Home tab and choose either Today or Community at the top. The Today screen shows your Verse of the Day, reading plans you’re reading, and suggests people follow, among other things.
The Community tab shows things you’ve shared and what your friends share with others, like their reading plan progress or Bible images. You can then comment or like their content. If you like a reading plan that a friend shares, then you can choose to start reading it yourself.
If you choose something in the app, you can use the phone or tablet operating system sharing features to share to places like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or directly via a text or some other direct messaging app.
These social media features might do more to spread the Bible App to others than any other feature. As people share things with friends and family, recipients then choose to download the app.
Bible App Syncs Highlights and Notes Across Devices and Platforms
Most people own a computer, a smartphone, and maybe a tablet. Tech enthusiasts like me might own a few of teach. The Bible App works on all of them. You can install it on…
Whatever you do in the app on a device, like an iPhone shows up on the website, your Android tablet, or your Kindle tablet. All your highlights, notes, and reading plan progress show up on each of these platforms. Create an account and log in on each device to sync the various content or progress.
Bible App Adds Multimedia Like Video and Images
As mentioned above, the Bible App doesn’t just show you the text of the Bible. You can also view multimedia content like the Verse of the Day superimposed over beautiful images. View the ones made by the app developers, your friends, or create your own.
If you tap on the Discover tab at the bottom of the main screen of the Bible App, you will see Podcasts, Videos, and images.
The Podcasts include simple things like audio book versions of the Bible read by talented readers. You can also hear traditional podcasts that cover things like Bible teaching, help for teachers, and popular content like J. Vernon McGee’s Thru the Bible in podcast form.
The videos come from multiple sources like The Spoken Gospel, which is a video Bible. You can also see scenes from the popular tv series The Chosen. The Bible Project videos also show up here as well as the Lumo Project, another video Bible in multiple languages. You can spend hours watching the videos included in the app.
I prefer more advanced Bible research and study apps for most of my mobile Bible reading or and study. But for quick and simple Bible reading and for sharing with others, the Bible App does the best job. Since it’s free, everyone should get it and drive that number far past the 500 Million downloads
Dr. Kevin Purcell is pastor of High Peak Baptist Church, an author and writer at Church Tech Today (www.churchtechtoday.com). He used to write for a number of other Christian and secular technology and mobile tech sites. Now he's one of the hosts of the Theotek Podcast, which you can find by checking the menu above or over at www.facebook.com/theotekpodcast.