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Archive for the ‘iPhone’ Category

iPhone feature: Switching between a split window

Posted on: June 14th, 2011 by Michelle Stramel 14 Comments

Recently a customer sent in a feature request for PocketBible for iPhone that I thought was a great idea. He asked that we add a button on the toolbar so he could easily switch to a split screen with two books and then back again.

Shortly thereafter I was reading through the PocketBible Help book (not something I do often enough evidently) and discovered that we already have that feature! Simply hold down any place on the screen while you have PocketBible open and a context menu pops up that includes an option to change the screen from one open book to two. That’s as easy as a button on the toolbar! While you are looking at the pop-up screen, you’ll see a few more things you can easily do such as set a bookmark, add a note, close the book and more.

Maybe everyone else knows about this one but on the off chance that there are a few others out there like us that haven’t read the Help, I gladly share my discovery.

PocketBible 1.4.7 at App Store

Posted on: February 13th, 2011 by Craig Rairdin 33 Comments

Apple just approved this latest update to PocketBible for the iPhone/iPad. iPad users can now hide the Toolbox when in landscape orientation! (Yes, we do pay attention to your requests.) :-)

Follow up (2/16/2011): For the Android users who have been posting sometimes nasty comments implying that we’re wasting time on useless features for iPad while they sit on their thrones making demands of how we (specifically I, Craig) should be spending our time, let me first say I’ve deleted your comments. As far as the time involved, let me explain how this works. As we get bug reports, we fix the problems in the code. We may not stop and do a release immediately because often the bugs are cosmetic or more of an annoyance than a real problem. We don’t want to take the time to jump through the App Store hoops and have everyone download a new version of the app just to discover there’s no real changes for most people. Instead, we accumulate a few of those changes until we run into one that is particularly bad.

That’s what happened this time. One whole feature of searching was unavailable on the iPad due to a recent iOS update from Apple. The actual fix to that problem was done by Jeff between chemo/radiation treatments. And since we were going to be doing an update anyway, I pulled out the suggestion list to see if there was anything I could do relatively quickly to add a new feature. The ability to hide the Toolbox in landscape mode on the iPad involved changing about four lines of code and had very little risk. I also looked at one other feature but it was taking too much time so I just left it on the list for later.

We know that we have customers waiting for an Android version of PocketBible. There’s no need to reply to every single Facebook post and every single blog post with snarky comments about how you wish we were announcing the Android product instead. Believe it or not, it doesn’t make it go faster nor does it change our priorities, which are already heavily tilted toward Android.

PocketBible 1.4.3 Available on App Store

Posted on: July 25th, 2010 by Craig Rairdin 22 Comments

The first of four new PocketBible products is available on the App Store. “PocketBible FREE” was approved earlier this evening.

We’re still waiting for approval on the Life Application Study Bible Collection, the NIV Study Bible Collection, and the NIV Reference Collection. These are primarily targeted at new users of PocketBible, but depending on the state of your PocketBible Library, you might find them to be valuable as an existing customer.

The new version features a built-in link to the PocketBible Bookstore. The approval snuck up on me this evening and I’m not quite done with all the tweaks to the product catalog. If you find a problem with any of the product pages, send me an email at craigr@laridian.com. Please don’t post them here.

Note that when you purchase a book from the built-in bookstore, we’ll eventually be able to tell PocketBible to automatically download it when you go to Add/Remove Books. That feature requires some more work on the server, which I hoped to get done this weekend but it’s looking less and less likely. Soon.

This version should also fix any lingering task-switching problems for iPhone 4 owners.


Now on the App Store: PocketBible 1.4.2

Posted on: July 12th, 2010 by Craig Rairdin 31 Comments

We’ve updated PocketBible to fix an annoying little problem on iPhone 4 in which what we call the “launch options” screen is displayed when you re-start PocketBible after the OS has dumped it from memory while it was idle. While we were in there, we added a couple little features:

iPhone and iPad Features

  • Added an option to enable/disable the use of colored buttons in the Bk/Ch/Vs verse selection forms to indicate sections of the Bible. Some people really hated what one of you called the “funky button colors” so we gave you the option to use a very un-funky gray for all the buttons.
  • Added an option to set margins and line leading for single- and multiple-pane screen configurations. Some people wanted to see more text on the screen in the single-pane mode. This lets you do that. While we were at it we gave you the option of setting margins and leading in the multiple-pane view, too.
  • Fixed a bug in which the temporary highlighting of the linked-to verse could disappear after synchronization with our server, removing or updating books, or coming out of the suspended state (iOS 4).

iPhone-only Features

  • Added “Split Screen” to Context menu. It’s a little more convenient there than going to Menu, Settings, Open Panes, and choosing “2”.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the launch options form to sometimes be displayed when coming out of the “suspended” state.

The next update won’t have any new features in it per se, but gives us the ability to sell our “collections” on the App Store and sets us up for in-app purchasing of books.

PocketBible and PrayerPartner Updates Submitted to App Store

Posted on: June 25th, 2010 by Craig Rairdin 19 Comments

Today we submitted PocketBible 1.4.1 and PrayerPartner 1.1.0 to the App Store.

PrayerPartner has been updated for iOS 4. This is primarily related to making PrayerPartner aware of and compatible with multitasking. However, we are also taking advantage of a new feature of iOS 4 – a programmatic interface to the text messaging composition form. PrayerPartner has previously helped you send emails regarding requests on your prayer list. Now it can also help you send text messages.

We also took this opportunity to add some email and text messaging capability to PocketBible. While I ran into some problems that prevented me from including these features in our 1.4.0 update, those issues have been resolved. PocketBible now allows you to send Bible verses via email or text messaging to people in your contact list.

Note that the text messaging features are only available with iOS 4, and your device must be capable of sending text messages.

As always, we expect the approval process to take 2 to 10 days. When the updates are approved, iTunes will notify you that the updates are available.

App Store Updates: PocketBible 1.4.0 and RomansRoad 1.0.3

Posted on: June 24th, 2010 by Craig Rairdin 21 Comments

This posting has been edited to reflect the fact that PocketBible 1.4.0 and RomansRoad 1.0.3 are now available on the App Store. Comments prior to the afternoon of 24 June were posted before the apps became available for download.

Both PocketBible and RomansRoad have been updated to account for new features in what Apple calls iOS 4 — version 4.0 of the iPhone OS.

What this boils down to is that the app saves its state when it is notified that the user wants to switch to another app, then restores its state when the OS notifies it that the user has switched back to it. These hoops would be completely unnecessary if Apple implemented “multitasking” the same way Windows, Windows Mobile, and even the Mac OS implements it. That is, your app doesn’t have to do anything special to run at the same time as other apps on those platforms. Leave it to Apple to reinvent the wheel — and the axle, differential, drive shaft, and engine. :-)

The new version of PocketBible also implements several changes related to notes, highlights, bookmarks, and synchronization with the server:

  • When saving notes we used to convert “special characters” like emdash, left- and right-double-quotes, bullets, etc. into HTML character entities. This is unnecessary and can be confusing the next time you open the note.
  • When synchronizing notes with the server, we’re doing a more consistent job of handling those special characters.
  • Previous versions made sure all the Toolbox panes were kept up-to-date even when they were not the active pane. As a result you could spend a lot of time waiting for a list that you never look at to be updated. The new version only updates panes when they are active or become active. This should speed up launching and updating the screen after synchronizing with the server.
  • We sped up synchronization of large data sets by making some changes on the server but also by changing the algorithm that iterates over the notes on your device. This also sped up searching of notes.
  • We gave you the ability to change the length of time the program will wait for a response from the server when synchronizing your data. This mostly affects users with a large number of notes, highlights and/or bookmarks (say, greater than 1000 of any of these).
  • We optimized the case where you’re not really searching your notes but just asking for a list of all the notes in a particular Bible. This affects how quickly the Find Notes pane in the Toolbox can be updated.
  • A previous version of PocketBible broke the rotation lock function on the iPhone. It is fixed in this version.

We still have a couple features we’re working on that take advantage of some iOS 4 features. If we can get those to work, they’ll be in 1.4.1.

Final Update on Synchronization Progress

Posted on: June 9th, 2010 by Craig Rairdin 22 Comments

Good JobToday we uploaded version 1.012 of PocketBible for Windows, and version 1.002 of the iPocketBible.com Server Synchronization Provider (formerly known as the iPhone Sync Provider). These updates address three issues:

  1. Notes containing certain special characters could become corrupted in the synchronization process as those special characters were passed from platform to platform, each of which may have treated them differently.
  2. Because of differences in the way the PC and our server implemented the synchronization algorithm, “old” data from the PC could be deleted when syncing with existing data from an iPhone.
  3. Since we were making changes, we also changed the way the PC keeps track of the date/time of the last sync. The new method eliminates rare problems caused by differences in the system time between the server and your PC.

To get the latest version of PocketBible for Windows, simply log into your download account, download it, and install it.

To get the latest iPocketBible.com Server Sync Provider to replace your old iPhone Sync Provider, go to the PocketBible for Windows site (http://www.laridian.com/pc) and select “Synchronization Providers” from the Products menu at the top of the page. Follow the instructions near the bottom of the page to download and install the iPocketBible.com Sync Provider.

The previous version of PocketBible should refuse to work with the new sync provider, and the new sync provider will refuse to work with the old version of PocketBible. So if you don’t get them installed correctly the program will tell you.

An important new feature added to PocketBible for Windows is the ability to reset your sync history. This forces PocketBible to treat the next sync as if it is the first. If you ever have to restore your PocketBible for Windows user data database, you’ll want to reset the sync history or you risk confusing the sync algorithm. When it sees that you have old data in your database that is no longer on the server, it will delete the data you just restored from your backup (thinking that you deleted it from the server). If you reset your sync history, it may find duplicates and ask you about them, but it won’t delete anything.

iPhone/iPad Users: There will be an update to the iPhone/iPad version of PocketBible to make some adjustments to the way certain special characters are handled. We currently are planning to roll this into our “iPhone 4″ update, which will be uploaded to Apple just as soon as we can.

Thanks for your patience while we worked on these updates.


You Might Need a Magnifying Glass…

Posted on: April 21st, 2010 by Craig Rairdin 27 Comments

I think I’ve mentioned before that the “iPad Version” of PocketBible is going to be what Apple calls a universal app. It’s not really iPad-specific. It will run on either an iPhone or an iPad. It decides at run-time which user interface to present and which features to enable. This differs from our Windows Mobile apps, which decide at install time which configuration to install (generally, a “PDA” version or a “smartphone” version).

We’ve been doing our development work on the iPad because that’s where the new features are. Yesterday Jeff installed to his iPhone just to see how we were doing. Everything worked fine, but we ran into a couple places where we forgot to do the “iPad Test” and as a result the iPad user interface was running on the iPhone. The result was the smaller of the two screen shots below.

Five panes on the iPad. Nice. Five panes on the iPhone with the font size set to 8 points. Ouch!

What’s cool is that it works fine. The tiny navigation overlays even pop up in each pane when you tap them in the center. It’s tough to hit the links, but then at 8 points, they’re tough to hit even with a full screen of text.

This points out a couple interesting facts about this project. First is that there are several features we created for the iPad that will “accidentally” start working on the iPhone, either in the next release or very soon after. For example, we’ll make it so you can open two panes (either two views into the same book or two books). And as I mentioned in connection with the video posted last week, some speed improvements that we made while developing for the iPad will affect the iPhone as well.

The other interesting thing is somewhat related. We share a lot of code between the iPhone, Palm OS, Windows, and Windows Mobile. So today when I was working on showing you a list of all your user-created notes, it was trivial to add the ability to search your notes because that’s a feature we added in PocketBible for Windows Mobile a couple years ago and it’s just been sitting in the shared code, waiting for a user interface on the iPad to expose it. (There won’t be any UI for it on the iPhone in the next release, but it could show up any time.)

The code that does note searching displays its results as a list of Bible verses. That is, if you have a note on John 3:16 that says “God loves me” and you do a search for “me” in your notes, you’ll see the text of John 3:16 in the results instead of seeing your note. So while I was in that code this morning I changed it to display the text of your note. In that case, the advantage goes the other direction — next time we build PocketBible for Windows or Windows Mobile it will automatically start showing the text of the note instead of the Bible in the search results.

I’m really liking the note-taking process on the iPad. With the new control panel, the entire application is still available while you’re writing a note. So just tap the “lock” button so your note editor stops synchronizing with the Bible text as it moves, and you can perform searches, follow cross-references, and copy passages without losing your place in your note. Leave that “lock” function active and you can follow a series of links from a note without having to go back to the noted verse and recalling the note. Again, this is an iPad-only feature in this case, since the iPhone is so much smaller. But it’s cool.

I don’t want to sound like an Apple zealot or iPad fanboy, but I’m starting to think the iPad is the platform for mobile Bible study. I know, I know — you’d like to make that decision for yourself. We’re getting close. It will be worth the wait.

PocketBible for iPad

Posted on: February 3rd, 2010 by Craig Rairdin 38 Comments

Apple announced its long awaited iPad tablet device last week, and like you we were all anxious to see it.

What we’re being told is that it will run most iPhone apps unmodified. They will only take up about 1/4 of the screen, since the iPad screen is significantly larger than the iPhone. We don’t have any reason to believe PocketBible won’t run on the iPad, but we’re doing what we can to make sure.

While the SDK has been distributed to developers, it is only a beta and we are unable to build what Apple calls “universal apps” that will allow the same binary file to run on either an iPhone or an iPad. We also don’t have access to pre-production devices, so we can only run in the emulator that is built into the development tools. So we have some reason to believe that PocketBible will work as-is but can’t be absolutely sure at this point because we’ve never seen it run on a device.

There are some simple user interface changes we’ll be making in the short term to better take advantage of the iPad’s capabilities. In addition, there are some new capabilities in the iPad version of the OS that aren’t yet in the iPhone that we’d like to investigate — what Apple calls “Core Text” is at the top of that list.

It’s not obvious from the end-user point of view, but PocketBible pushes the limits of the iPhone’s abilities when it comes to displaying text. PocketBible is exactly the type of application that the iPhone OS was not designed for — that is, an app that does sophisticated text rendering. The new iPad, with its bigger screen and potentially more usable keyboard, invites applications like word processors that need sophisticated layout capabilities. PocketBible is in that camp.

This is not unique to the iPhone. Windows Mobile also lacks key text rendering capabilities that are present in its big brother, Windows on the desktop. For example, it’s not possible in Windows Mobile to accurately measure the width of a piece of text as it will be displayed on the screen. You can almost do it, but it doesn’t work right for bold and italics. So we’ve had to implement our own functions for this.

We could probably get into a lengthy discussion of whether or not this form factor is something the public will accept. I’ve seen everything from people who want it to replace their phone (assuming they can keep from knocking themselves unconscious when they answer it) to those who point out that tablet computers with full-blown operating systems have failed to capture consumer attention, which causes one to question whether a similar device with a mobile OS stands a chance.

That said, one of my long-standing complaints about devices such as the Sony Reader and the Kindle are that they don’t allow any kind of third-party software. (Or at least until recently when Amazon announced a “Kindle Developer’s Kit” for Kindle.) My Kindle is great, but it’s horrible for Bible study because the software simply doesn’t have the features you need to access an integrated Bible library, or even perform moderately sophisticated searches. Viewed as a souped-up e-book reader, the iPad may stand a chance. While it’s hard to imagine anyone beating Amazon’s selection of e-books for Kindle, if anyone has a chance of doing so it would be Apple.

The iPad could actually be the perfect electronic Bible study device. It’s just portable enough to be truly portable, while being large enough to facilitate convenient cross-referencing between titles.

From a developer’s standpoint there’s not a whole lot to complain about. It’s like a big iPhone, so everything we’ve learned about iPhone and Mac programming transfers painlessly to the iPad. We’re not crazy about the shortsightedness of some of their new features (“split views” being at the top of that list for you programmers) but we’ve also seen initial shortsightedness in the iPhone OS get repaired in subsequent releases. Unfortunately, like the similar issues that arose years ago on the Palm OS, by the time the official solutions are released everyone has already coded their own work-arounds to meet user demand.

What all this boils down to is that we fully plan to support the iPad and in fact enhance PocketBible over time to take advantage of unique iPad features. We think it could be an ideal Bible study platform for those who have the spare change to invest in one.

PocketBible 1.2.0 Now Available

Posted on: December 29th, 2009 by Craig Rairdin 19 Comments

Features Devotional Reading Progress Tracking

PocketBible 1.2.0 has been approved by Apple and is available in the App Store.

The new version wraps up what we call our “user-created data” functionality. That is, the program now supports the creation of notes, highlights, bookmarks, and the tracking of your progress as you read through devotional (daily reading) books. This is a fairly major milestone for PocketBible. Initially we weren’t even going to ship version 1.0 until these features were implemented. Our early alpha testers convinced us to ship as soon as possible and wrap up the rest of the features in a series of point releases, which is what we ended up doing.

There are other minor improvements to the program as well. In particular, we took advantage of the extra space in landscape mode and added two additional buttons to the toolbar: “Forward” (the “Back” button seemed lonely) and “Bookmarks” (gives you a quick path to your list of bookmarks). And check out the new, very colorful, Go TO Verse screen.


New Features in 1.2.0

  • PocketBible now tracks your progress reading through devotional (daily reading) books like through-the-Bible reading plans.
    • Select a start date for each devotional book
    • Mark today’s reading, current reading, or selected reading as “completed”
    • Title bar turns green for readings you’ve read; red for those you need to read
    • Today button now activates new Devotional menu when selected while a devotional is active. Gives access to devotional features including new reading progress view and settings
    • “Catch Up” function lets you quickly adjust your reading plan to put you back on schedule
    • Open Book screen uses color coding to indicate which devotional books you need to read today to stay on schedule
    • Progress tracking is optional
  • Added frequently requested “Forward” and “Bookmarks” buttons to the tool bar when in landscape mode (where there is room for more buttons than in portrait).
  • Color-coded the book name buttons in the Go To Verse “Bk/Ch/Vs” selection process. Colors correspond to well-known sections of the Bible (Pentateuch, History, Wisdom, etc.) to make it easier to spot a particular book.
  • Added more “short-cut” buttons to the Go To Verse spinner corresponding to the sections of the Bible mentioned above.
  • Minor updates to the Context menu for non-Bibles to remove inactive choices.
  • Improved handling of saving your notes when the phone rings or you get a text (or simply exit the program) to eliminate potential loss of data.

Next up is providing you a way to sync your user-created data to our server and from there to your PC and other mobile devices. As usual there will be other improvements included in each update.

If you have suggestions, send them to me at craigr@laridian.com rather than posting them here in comments.

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