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Archive for the ‘iPhone’ Category

What’s in the Pipeline?

Posted on: June 10th, 2015 by Craig Rairdin 156 Comments

We often get asked about what we are working on. While you can be sure we are always working, and that our work probably involves some version of PocketBible, we understand you may be interested in a more detailed explanation of what is going on behind the scenes. It is in that spirit that we are going to try something new with an occasional post on what’s in the pipeline for apps and books.

You’ll notice we don’t talk about release dates. We’ve been in this business for a long time and have learned that our best-laid plans often go awry. In fact, in the software business, that’s the rule rather than the exception. So we don’t spit into that wind nor tilt at those windmills. We’re pursuing the goals you see below at our best pace and will release new books and updates to our apps as soon as they’re ready.

Apps

  • PocketBible for Android – Version 1.4.4 is current. Includes support for upcoming BookBuilder improvements with respect to user-created Bibles.
  • PocketBible for iOS – Version 3.2.3 was released on June 1, 2015. We are currently working on some enhancements to the user interface and changing the way we do text-to-speech to make it easier to manage and less expensive.
  • PocketBible for Mac OS X – Version 1.1.5 with support for some upcoming BookBuilder improvements and minor new features was released on April 9, 2015.
  • PocketBible for Windows Phone – Send us your suggestions for enhancements.
  • PocketBible for Windows Store – Send us your suggestions for enhancements.
  • BookBuilder for Mac OS X – Version 1.0.0 was released on 3/6/15. Currently working on some in-house features and better support for user-created Bibles.
  • BookBuilder for Windows Desktop - Work is starting to refresh the Windows version to improve the user interface, improve the integration between the various tools that make up the Professional Edition, and bring it into feature parity with the Mac version.

Books

Here’s what our editorial team has in the queue for you (not in any particular order):

  • Additional volumes of the Ancient Christian Commentary Series (IVP)
  • The Applied New Testament and Old Testament Commentary (Cook)
  • Wesley Study Bible (Abingdon)
  • NASB Bible text Updates
  • Add Words in red to KJV text
  • Tree of Life Version (TLV)
  • Adam Clarke Bible Commentary

Disclaimers: All this is subject to change in priority, feasibility, copyright licensing, etc. That means we reserve the right to never release these features or books. We are sharing with you the current plan which is written in sand, not stone. Also, just because something is not on this list doesn’t mean we are not considering it. Finally, we are open to your requests, suggestions and comments!

PocketBible for iOS is Back in the App Store

Posted on: June 2nd, 2015 by Craig Rairdin 25 Comments

PocketBible iOS IconIt appears this story is old news now. 3.2.3 is available on the App Store. A few of you are still upgrading, so I’ll keep the article here for a while.

On May 18 we submitted PocketBible 3.2.0 to Apple for approval. On Thursday, May 28 they approved it and by Friday night it was being downloaded by our users.

When I saw it was available for me to download to my iPad, I updated my personal copy. I got the message I expected, that my data needed to be updated. I went to Manage My Data as instructed but there was no response from the program. I quickly hooked my iPad up to my laptop and ran the program in the debugger. It turned out the Manage My Data screen was being built, but as soon as it was displayed, it was being dismissed by iOS so the user never saw it.

I tried deleting and re-installing to no avail.

During this process, Facebook notified me of some messages from a couple people who I know to be active PocketBible customers. When I visited Facebook I found there were several users having the same experience I was.

I posted a status update to our Facebook followers instructing them not to download the update to their iPads (the program was working fine on my iPhone). After a few more minutes of testing I realized there was no way to work around this and that I was going to have to stop it from being distributed. Unfortunately, Apple does not offer an immediate “off” switch. I pulled the app from the App Store but it would take 24 hours to fully take effect.

I posted a message on the home page of www.laridian.com and wrote a blog article to explain what I knew about the problem. I set up a response on our tech support ticket system that pointed affected users to the blog article for more information. I pulled the update announcement I had made on Thursday from Facebook and our blog. I posted a status update on Facebook pointing to the blog.

Over the next five or six hours I tracked down two related problems in the Apple code. I was able to fix one of them fairly easily because the 15 places in the code that were affected were all in the same file (or, for you programmers, the same class).

Other problems were related to UIAlertView (messages that pop up in the middle of the screen, usually with an “OK” and a “Cancel” button) and UIActionSheet (windows that pop up from the bottom of the screen and contain a simple caption and a column of buttons). I found these to be used in 294 places in the code. Each of these instances had to be reviewed to see how to best work around the problem. In some cases, I changed the implementation to use an alternative method of doing the same thing. But in most cases there was no better alternative.

After doing some research on the Web (programmers use a site called stackoverflow.com to confer, converse, and otherwise hobnob with their fellow wizards) I found a good work-around that required only a simple change to the code in about a dozen places.

By Saturday afternoon I was ready to put the program in the hands of some beta testers. I posted a call for testers on the blog and on Facebook. I knew this would be tough going into Sunday morning, but I got a small number of testers from around the world to run the program through its paces. (I apologize to my fellow church members for taking a few minutes during the announcements to pull out my laptop, add three new beta testers to the provisioning profile, re-sign the program and upload it to the website.)

Interestingly, the only problems they found were bugs that have probably been in PocketBible since version 2.0 or maybe earlier. I made some effort to fix those but under the circumstances didn’t want to take more time than necessary to get the program back up on the App Store.

By Sunday evening, about 48 hours after discovering these debilitating bugs, I was ready to upload the program to the App Store. At the same time, I filed a request for expedited review with Apple. It took them 10 days to review the last version; they’ve taken as little as 2-3 days in the past. I was hoping they’d agree to expedite it, because even after it was approved it would take 24 hours to propagate to all of Apple’s servers. Apple approved the expedited review on Monday morning and an hour later the app itself was approved.

By Tuesday morning everyone was seeing the update (version 3.2.3) and reporting that it was working.

I apologize for the inconvenience. Here are a few FAQs:

What are the symptoms? “Manage My Data”, “Shop for Bibles and Books” and many other menu items don’t do anything. This is especially problematic, since the program tells you that you need to go to “Manage My Data” to update your data due to the program itself being updated. But Manage My Data doesn’t work. Other selections, such as “Copy Passage” and “Register Now” cause the program to crash.

Version 3.2.0 seems to be working on my iPhone. Should I be worried? The problem seems to be limited to the iPad.

Should I remove the program from my iPad? No. When you download the fixed version (3.2.3), it will overwrite the bad version and everything will still be there (books and user data). It is OK to leave it installed and even run it. It’s just that certain functions are disabled. You might also have it crash if you interact with any pop-up choice boxes like the registration prompt. Just leave it installed for now.

Why does PocketBible require you to go to Manage My Data anyway? Previous versions of PocketBible tried to maintain the integrity of your user data (notes, highlights, bookmarks, etc.) by detecting when you have logged into a different account, then asking you to say how you wanted to handle your existing data with respect to the new account (i.e. replace your local data with the data on the server or merge your local data with the data on the server). Unfortunately, it assumed that simply changing your password meant you were logging into a new account. This new version of PocketBible uses the same technique as PocketBible for OS X, which records the customer ID you use when you sync your data, then compares that customer ID to the one you are logged into. That way you can change your password or even log out and log back in, and PocketBible won’t get confused. Since the old version did not keep track of your customer ID, and since you may have logged in with your email address instead of your customer ID, PocketBible has to log into your account and ask the server for your customer ID. This is quick and painless — unless you can’t get to Manage My Data to do it!

I’m a programmer. What’s really going on? Apple changed the way that UIPopoverController, UIAlertView, and UIActionSheet dismiss their views. In each case, we previously could assume that after dismissing those views we could display another modal view or otherwise act as if the view was gone (whether it was actually gone from the display at this point is irrelevant — I know that takes another cycle through the run loop). But some recent update to the SDK made it so that dismissing UIPopoverController resulted in any modal view displayed after that to be dismissed along with the requested UIPopoverController.

UIPopoverController does not notify its delegate when it is programmatically dismissed, only when it is dismissed by a tap outside its view. So we have no way of knowing when it is done. There are various techniques to discover whether or not the view has been dismissed. I chose a very simple polling technique that doesn’t make assumptions about whether or not it takes only one pass through the run loop, as other solutions do. For UIAlertView and UIActionSheet, I changed the delegate method I use to act on a button press from the “button pressed” delegate method to the “dismissed with button press” delegate method. This assures that the view has been dismissed before we continue.

 

Have You Discovered Autostudy?

Posted on: February 11th, 2015 by Michelle Stramel 14 Comments

Sometimes a verse hits you right between the eyes and you want to know everything there is to know about it. That is what Autostudy does for you. It tells you everything there is to know about a verse (or word) in your PocketBible library…in just a few seconds.

What do you need to accomplish an Autostudy?

This feature is available exclusively for those using PocketBible on an iDevice (iPhone/iPad/iPod touch), Android smartphone or tablet or a Mac. It also requires that you own Advanced Features for the specific operating system as well (Advanced Features are sold separately for each OS).

How do you produce an Autostudy?

AutoStudy makes studying simpler. Choose a verse and choose Autostudy from the menu. Select which books or type of information you want to see on your AutoStudy report and choose to view.

What does Autostudy give you?

Autostudy tells you everything there is to know about a verse or word based on your personal PocketBible library. When you pick a verse to Autostudy, PocketBible will provide information regarding that verse from Bibles, commentaries, dictionaries, etc. that you have installed. You can choose to see everything in your library or just items of a specific category (i.e. Other Translations, Exhaustive Concordances, Commentary). You can choose to exclude specific Bibles or books from results.

For example, if you chose to Autostudy John 3:16 and chose Other Translations in the options, you would see how John 3:16 reads in all your Bible translations.

The differences between the two types of Autostudy options – word or verse – is based on the type of information you are requesting. If you are doing a verse Autostudy, you will get information from books that are indexed by verse. This includes commentaries, cross-references, Exhaustive Concordances and other translations. It can also include definitions for every word in the verse. A word Autostudy will provide information from word-based books, primarily dictionaries.

You can keep your Autostudy results by copying them to another program, saving for later or printing (requires compatible printer).

One additional Autostudy option, available on Android and Mac, is a Today Autostudy. This is especially handy if you are reading multiple devotionals or a Bible reading plan that includes verses from different places in the Bible (i.e. OT/NT). Choose to Autostudy today, choose your reading plans or devotionals and PocketBible will present you with all your readings for that day on one page.

See an AutoStudy in action! Choose your platform below to see a short video of an AutoStudy (links to video on youtube):

3 Benefits of Listening to the Bible

Posted on: January 23rd, 2015 by Michelle Stramel No Comments

What keeps you from reading your Bible? Time? Ability to focus? You may find listening to the Bible a way to combat these issues and more:

  • Engage two senses – if you read through several paragraphs and can’t remember what you just read, try listening and reading at the same time. This will help you keep your attention on what you are reading.
  • Redeem the time – listen to the Bible while you clean the house, run, work or commute and put this wasted time to a good use.
  • Multi-front approach – if you are trying to memorize or meditate on a specific passage of Scripture, reading and listening separately can reinforce your efforts.

PocketBible offers text-to-speech capability with all but the Windows PC version. To listen with PocketBible, you will need to purchase the Advanced Feature set for the version of PocketBible you are using on your device (Advanced Feature Sets are sold separately for each operating system). Additionally for the iOS version, you also need to purchase a voice; Other versions of PocketBible use the built-in voice capability of the operating system.

Here’s how to use the audio feature in each version of PocketBible:

  • PocketBible for iOS – with the Advanced Feature Set and a voice installed, you can use the contextual menu to start the reading from any verse in the Bible. Or turn on the Audio remote (icon looks like megaphone) to easily stop and start the audio.
  • PocketBible for Mac OS X – with the Advanced Feature Set installed, use the right-click menu to start speaking from the current location of your Bible.
  • PocketBible for Windows Phone – with the Advanced Feature Set installed, select Menu | show audio controls and then press Play to start listening.
  • PocketBible for Windows Store – with the Advanced Feature Set installed, choose Audiobar from the menu and tap the play button to begin the audio.
  • PocketBible for Android OS – with the Advanced Feature Set installed, choose Listen from the menu.

Swiping through the Bible on your iOS Device

Posted on: November 11th, 2014 by Michelle Stramel 14 Comments

Since the release of PocketBible 3.1.0, if you own the Advanced Feature Set for PocketBible iOS, you have the ability to customize your movement through PocketBible Bibles and books.

By default, PocketBible offers specific touch zones depending on whether you are in a Bible or other type book. Bible touch zones include options to move by page, verse or chapter as well as moving to the next/prev open book. Non-Bible Book touch zones include options to move by page and to change books. To view navigation options for the current active book, tap in the center of the book and a temporary navigation overlay/guide will appear.

The Advanced Feature Set adds an option to Customize Touch Zones under the Settings menu. With this option, you are able to customize touch zones down to the book level (i.e. Bible, Devotionals, other), but we also include a set of pre-defined configurations. Here are suggested alternatives but feel free to try them all and see what works best for you:

  • If you find yourself swiping instead of tapping to move through a book, try the Alternative Default (option 2)
  • If you like the default touch zones but sometimes change books when you meant to move to the next page, try the Defaults with No Book Changes (option 3)
  • If you like swiping up to move through books but inadvertently change books, try the Alt Defaults with No Book Changes (option 4). To change books, tap on the title bar in the open window.

Watch the video below to see how to use this customization feature. It shows how to setup PocketBible so that swiping up will move you through the Bible (rather than changing books).

PocketBible 3.1 Now Available on the App Store

Posted on: April 2nd, 2014 by Michelle Stramel 19 Comments

PocketBible 3.1 is now available on the App Store. This update adds some new features and fixes to PocketBible Version 3.0.26.

PocketBible 3 is still free, and for existing PocketBible version 3 or version 2 users it should show up as an available update in the App Store. If you are still using PocketBible 1.4.7, we offer step-by-step instructions to move to PocketBible 3.

New Features:

  • Users with the Advanced Feature Set can change the behavior of the touch zones. The most common customization is to use swipe up and down for page changes instead of swiping left and right. Other customizations are possible.
  • Added buttons for paragraphs, bold, italic, underline, ordered lists, unordered lists, and list items to the Note editor on the iPad.
  • Journal titles are now included in searches (Journal feature is part of Advanced Feature Set).

Minor Enhancements:

  • Changed the defaults for “Sync Bible/Commentaries” and “Highlight Linked Passage” to ON.
  • Reduced the height of the expanded Toolbox in “upside down portrait” orientation so there’s more room for the keyboard to pop up without obscuring Bible text.
  • Allow the horizontal rule tag to appear in notes without requiring the user to take responsibility for inserting paragraph tags.
  • Preserve the user’s customer ID and password when resetting program settings to their defaults. This should reduce the occurrence of users inadvertently invalidating their user data and books.
  • Removed the “launch recovery dialog” that is displayed on launch after a program crash. The program will always retry without giving the user the option of deleting all their settings, which can result in invalidation of user-created data and the need to delete and re-install books.

Bug Fixes:

  • Fixed a crash when user has more than about 70-75 books open simultaneously.
  • Fixed a crash in the Note editor on the iPhone when inserting font size or font color tags.
  • Fixed the list of verses at the top of the Note editor so that it gets correctly updated, especially when the Lock button is turned on.
  • Fixed erroneous cursor position after inserting certain HTML tags in the Note editor. Confirmed in iOS 7; could still be incorrect in earlier versions.
  • Fixed a misbehavior of the pop-up “menu” view on the iPad under iOS 7.1 in which it was not getting properly dismissed when subsequent toolbar buttons were pressed.

PocketBible 3.0.26 Now Available on the App Store

Posted on: December 20th, 2013 by Michelle Stramel 7 Comments

PocketBible 3.0.26 is now available on the App Store. This version adds some minor updates and fixes to earlier releases of PocketBible Version 3.

PocketBible 3 is fully iOS 7 compatible but runs on iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch devices back to version 5.

PocketBible 3 is still free, and for existing PocketBible 2 users it should show up as an available update. If you already own the Advanced Feature Set, it will unlock the Advanced Features of version 3. If you are still using PocketBible 1.4.7, we offer step-by-step instructions to move to PocketBible 3.

PocketBible 3 introduced our new iconography for iOS, which is based on the “Holy Spirit descending like a dove” from the old stained-glass icon from version 2.

What’s New

These features are new to the 3.0.26 update:

  • View and select from a list of most recent searches
  • Close books from the titlebar menu

In case you missed our initial announcement, the following features were added with the release of PocketBible 3:

ADVANCED FEATURE SET

  • The Journal lets you create notes that aren’t associated with any Bible verse. In all other respects they act like notes in PocketBible, including being sync’ed to the Laridian cloud — though they will not yet be visible in versions of PocketBible running on other platforms.
  • Name your highlight colors to make it easier to remember what your colors mean.
  • All the previous Advanced Feature Set features from version 2 are present in version 3, and your version 2 Advanced Feature Set will enable the version 3 features without an additional purchase.

STANDARD FEATURES

  • Autosync allows you to automatically sync changes to your notes, highlights, bookmarks, and other user-created data with the Laridian Cloud without pausing to manually sync as you had to do with version 2. You have the option to require WiFi for autosync in order to avoid data charges. Manual sync is still available, and it runs much faster than the older sync protocol.
  • Added underline, dotted underline, and dashed underline highlight styles.
  • Added option to display one verse per paragraph. (Start each verse on a new line.)
  • Now supports book (non-Bible) notes on iPhone. Previously, these were only available on iPad.
  • Added a Night Reading color scheme which puts white text on a black background for reading in the dark.
  • iOS 7 users will have multiple user interface color schemes in addition to “Night Reading”.
  • Optional Book Position Indicator at the bottom of each book pane shows you how far into the book you are.
  • Added Pane Options button to the iPad toolbar. Lets you turn on/off tabbed panes and select the number of panes you’re viewing.
  • Better management of notes, highlights, and bookmarks by being able to delete them from lists using the standard iOS “swipe” gesture. When deleting a category, all the bookmarks in that category are now deleted rather than being moved to “uncategorized” as they were before.
  • Improved the iPad launch speed for users with lots of notes, highlights, or bookmarks.
  • A number of small user interface tweaks, including:
    • Turn off user-created highlights or only highlight verse number rather than entire verse.
    • Rearranged the Main, Context, and Settings menus to move frequently accessed items to the top and collect similar operations together under task-related headings.
    • Got rid of Undo and Redo in the iPhone note editor; added Bold, Italics, and Unordered List buttons to the iPhone note editor toolbar.
    • Made the Toolbox Expand, Next Page, and Previous Page buttons smaller to increase the space available for the contents of the Toolbox panels. On the Note View/Edit panels, rearranged the controls at the top to provide more room to view the note.
    • Added Email Passage and Text Passage to the list of possible “Passage Actions” in the Context menu.

Managing your Books in PocketBible

Posted on: November 6th, 2013 by Michelle Stramel 5 Comments

PocketBible for AndroidAll of our PocketBible smartphone and tablet apps (Android, Windows Phone/Store and iOS) have a similar feature you can use to quickly move from one book to the other.

Tap on the title bar in a pane and you’ll get a drop-down list of what you have open in that pane. This works the same way in each pane you have open. From there you can tap on the title of another book in the list to move to it; you may be able to close a book or open another book as well (varies by OS). This simple way of managing books makes it easier to get your panes setup like you want as you study the Bible.

Here is a quick video demonstration of this feature using PocketBible for Android:

On my phone, I like to use two panes and keep my Bibles in one pane and my other type books in the second pane. I also have my apps set to sync books by verse so that my Bibles and commentaries always stay on the same verse. On my iPad, I use tabs for each category of book so I can quickly switch between type of book but when I am in a particular tab, like Bibles, I can use the title bar to quickly switch between my different Bibles.

Questions or tips for other users? Please share in the comments below!

PocketBible 3 for iOS Now Available on the App Store

Posted on: October 31st, 2013 by Craig Rairdin 38 Comments

PocketBible 3 is now available on the App Store! Version 3 is fully iOS 7 compatible but runs on iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch devices back to version 5.

PocketBible 3 is still free, and for existing PocketBible 2 users it should show up as an available update. If you already own the Advanced Feature Set, it will unlock the Advanced Features of version 3.

What’s New

As you can see here, PocketBible 3 introduces our new iconography for iOS, which is based on the “Holy Spirit descending like a dove” from the old stained-glass icon from version 2. So don’t be surprised when you can’t find the old PocketBible icon after you upgrade. Just look for the dove.

Here are a few things you will notice as new in version 3:

ADVANCED FEATURE SET

  • The Journal lets you create notes that aren’t associated with any Bible verse. In all other respects they act like notes in PocketBible, including being sync’ed to the Laridian cloud — though they will not yet be visible in versions of PocketBible running on other platforms.
  • Name your highlight colors to make it easier to remember what your colors mean.
  • All the previous Advanced Feature Set features from version 2 are present in version 3, and your version 2 Advanced Feature Set will enable the version 3 features without an additional purchase.

STANDARD FEATURES

  • Autosync allows you to automatically sync changes to your notes, highlights, bookmarks, and other user-created data with the Laridian Cloud without pausing to manually sync as you had to do with version 2. You have the option to require WiFi for autosync in order to avoid data charges. Manual sync is still available, and it runs much faster than the older sync protocol.
  • Added underline, dotted underline, and dashed underline highlight styles.
  • Added option to display one verse per paragraph. (Start each verse on a new line.)
  • Now supports book (non-Bible) notes on iPhone. Previously, these were only available on iPad.
  • Added a Night Reading color scheme which puts white text on a black background for reading in the dark.
  • iOS 7 users will have multiple user interface color schemes in addition to “Night Reading”.
  • Optional Book Position Indicator at the bottom of each book pane shows you how far into the book you are.
  • Added Pane Options button to the iPad toolbar. Lets you turn on/off tabbed panes and select the number of panes you’re viewing.
  • Better management of notes, highlights, and bookmarks by being able to delete them from lists using the standard iOS “swipe” gesture. When deleting a category, all the bookmarks in that category are now deleted rather than being moved to “uncategorized” as they were before.
  • Improved the iPad launch speed for users with lots of notes, highlights, or bookmarks.
  • A number of small user interface tweaks, including:
    • Rearranged the Main, Context, and Settings menus to move frequently accessed items to the top and collect similar operations together under task-related headings.
    • Got rid of Undo and Redo in the iPhone note editor; added Bold, Italics, and Unordered List buttons to the iPhone note editor toolbar.
    • Made the Toolbox Expand, Next Page, and Previous Page buttons smaller to increase the space available for the contents of the Toolbox panels. On the Note View/Edit panels, rearranged the controls at the top to provide more room to view the note.
    • Added Email Passage and Text Passage to the list of possible “Passage Actions” in the Context menu.

Here’s what to Expect

Here are some screen shots to let you see what the new version looks like. Visually, it’s similar to the previous one. Most of these images use the default color scheme. Click on an image to see a full-size version.

iPad

iPad with Toolbox, Toolbar with new Book Panes button, and default color scheme

iPad in landscape with Toolbox, multiple book panes, and Context menu

iPad with my favorite “Chocolate” color scheme, also showing Book Progress Indicator bars across the bottom of each book pane.

iPhone

Other than the iOS 7 color scheme, the iPhone version looks pretty similar to version 2.

An early beta view of the “Night Reading” color scheme on the iPhone. Toolbar buttons are in red to aid in retention of night vision.

PocketBible and iOS 7

Posted on: September 20th, 2013 by Craig Rairdin 62 Comments

This week brings the release of iOS 7 from Apple. As this new version of the operating system rolls out to more and more devices we’re beginning to hear from you about what’s working and what’s not. I want to take a minute to tell you how to work around the one problem we know about, then tell you what we’re doing to fix that, then tell you what I think about all this. Since that flows from absolutely important to “who cares?”, you can stop reading as soon as your questions are answered.

“Go To Verse” on the iPad

iOS 7 removed a feature of “popover views” (the box that pops up out of the toolbar to show you our “go to verse” buttons) that allowed developers to specify the size of the contents they were putting in the view if that size changes after the initial contents are placed. As a result, after you choose a book, the view gets resized to its default size, and the chapter buttons get cut off.

There are two work-arounds for this:

  • Press the button in the upper left corner to go back to the list of books and choose your book again. This little bit of magic seems to break Apple’s concentration and they quit trying to resize the view.
  • Choose a different go-to method for the time being. To do this, go to the Settings menu, scroll down to Program Settings, and choose a different Bible Verse Selection method. There are two other than the book/chapter/verse buttons that are the default: The Calculator method and the Spinner method. Of the two, the spinner is the easiest to use and is less quirky. Choose the Spinner and work your way out of the Settings menu. Next time you choose Go To, you’ll see the Spinner instead of the buttons.

There are other small cosmetic issues you may or may not notice as you use the program. We don’t know of anything that affects the actual function or usability of the program beyond the one mentioned above.

What We’re Doing About It

While developers have had access to beta versions of the iOS 7 developer’s toolkit for several months, we’ve found in the past that you can waste a lot of time chasing the changing specifications of the new version of the operating system if you start your work too early. For iOS 6, many developers were stunned to discover the apps they developed and uploaded to the App Store using the final beta version (which was approved by Apple for submission to the App Store) did not function correctly on the final released version of iOS 6. They had to scramble to make changes. So with all this in mind, and after reviewing the new features in iOS 7, we decided to wait until we had a version of the developer’s toolkit that was closer to final.

We’re working on version 3.0 of PocketBible, which will be fully iOS 7 compatible. Most of the changes we have to make are user interface related. That is, tweaking colors and behavior of the UI to match the new, flat look of iOS 7. There are several new features in PocketBible 3, but these have been in beta for a few weeks now and are in pretty good shape. In particular:

  • Advanced Feature Set – New Features
    • Journal Notes allow you to take notes that are not associated with any particular Bible verse.
    • Assign names to your highlight colors.
  • Features in the Standard (Free) Version
    • Autosync feature allows you to synchronize your user data (notes, highlights, bookmarks, etc.) with the Laridian cloud automatically in the background while you continue to work. Manual sync is still available if you prefer.
    • Synchronization speed is improved.
    • Added underline styles (underline, dotted, and dashed) to the list of highlight choices.
    • Display one verse per paragraph (start each verse on a new line).
    • Support iOS swipe gestures to delete notes, highlights, bookmarks, etc. from lists of those items.
    • When deleting a bookmark category, the bookmarks themselves are deleted (instead of being moved to “uncategorized”
    • Added “Email Passage” and “Text Passage” to the list of “Passage Actions”.
    • Various speed improvements and minor bug fixes.

This version of PocketBible will be uploaded to the App Store soon. We’re still working through all the issues brought about by the release of iOS 7. In the meantime, the only thing you really need to do is change your go-to-verse method.

So What Do We Think About All This

One of the frustrations with our industry as a whole and Apple in particular is the pace at which it changes. Most of the changes in iOS 7 that affect us are cosmetic. Apple has decided that it’s their user interface, not their limited availability and high price, that negatively impacts their sales. So they spent a lot of time turning everything flat, gray, and translucent. Many of those changes are applied to programs automatically, but not all of them are implemented well.

For example, in the intrest of transparency, the system status bar (the signal strength indicator and clock across the top) is now transparent. That’s great, but our app is used to a solid status bar and would never bother to put anything behind it. Now, since that bar is transparent, the OS tells us it isn’t there and tricks us into writing under it. So when the status bar is laid over top, it just is unreadable since it’s either black or white text on top of a white page of black text. So we had to take the time to create a little colored rectangle to put under the status bar so you can see it.

While changing the look of table views (those lists of contacts, appointments, settings, etc. that you see all over iOS), they decided the headings between groups of choices should ALWAYS BE UPPER CASE. So it looks like THE PHONE IS YELLING AT YOU all the time. Furthermore, they limited the text to six lines without documenting the limit nor truncating the text. So it’s possible for text to flow over the list items. This would be fine if they provided a way to say DON’T YELL AT ME but they didn’t. So we had to implement custom text views to put in those locations.

This is all characteristic of a philosophy that has little sense of history or the importance of supporting existing apps, existing versions of the OS, or existing hardware. For example, PocketBible 3 will be compatible with iOS 5 devices, but you won’t find much, if any, mention of iOS 5 from Apple. I know people running iOS 4 and 5 who just never bother to plug their device into their PC/Mac to download updates. It’s working for them, so why bother? I’m typing this blog article on a PC running Windows XP. It works great. Why upgrade? Apple doesn’t understand this idea. They assume everyone rushes out and buys a new phone every year or two, or they at least upgrade the operating system every time an update is available.

As a result of this blindness to the past, it’s not unusual to discover that something is broken in the OS and it’s just never going to get fixed. For example, we depend on a particular method being called (viewWillDisappear:) when one of our “dialog boxes” is dismissed. I found out yesterday that iOS 7 breaks that rule (it’s been around since version 2) in certain cases. As a result, instead of one programmer at Apple fixing one bug, it creates millions of bugs in hundreds of thousands of apps, and each of those hundreds of thousands of programmers has to take an hour or two to figure out how to work around it. Apple doesn’t care because programmers who start programming new apps tomorrow will never know any differenc and will always code as if viewWillDisappear: won’t always be called, and they are the only ones who matter.

It’s as if Apple has incubation pods where they harvest new programmers. They pull them out of their drawer and they start writing code with no sense of what came before. A year later, after working 24×7 with no sleep, they are recycled to feed the next batch, which are harvested just in time to release the next unnecessary update to the operating system.

Anyway…

We’re still in the process of making changes, but this is just a couple little things we’ve run into in the process of moving PocketBible to iOS 7. We think you’ll like PocketBible 3 when we’re done, but it’s going to take a couple more weeks to get there. In the meantime, change your go-to-verse settings and 2.0.6 will continue to work fine.

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