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Archive for the ‘iPhone’ Category

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 Preview

Posted on: April 15th, 2010 by Craig Rairdin 42 Comments

I’ve uploaded a video preview of PocketBible for iPad to YouTube at Because the video resolution isn’t as good as the iPad screen resolution, I’ve reproduced some representative screen shots below. Click on the screen shot to see the full-resolution image.

Nearly full-page casual reading mode with increased line leading and margins. Tool bar and title bar can be removed if you really, really have to see one more line of text.

Control panel provides quick access to search results, highlights, bookmarks, notes, and eventually more features. Control panel follows home button as iPad is rotated and can be removed in portrait mode.

PocketBible for iPad quickly searches your entire library at one time and displays number of hits per book. Select a book to see list of results; select a result to see it in context in the book. Control panel shown expanded.

View a list of all your highlights, or all highlights in a particular color in your entire library. Similarly, you can see a list of all bookmarks or all bookmarks in a particular category.

Easily choose a different font and size. Dim the display for reading at night.

Split the screen to show two Bibles side-by-side. Bibles track each other — as you move through one, the other moves to the same verse.

Open a commentary beside a Bible and the two are synchronized. As you view a verse in the Bible, the commentary follows along.

Split the screen into up to five windows.

We reserve the right to make changes to the user interface (UI) and to functionality before we ship. In fact, there are a few things still in flux and at least one major feature that hasn’t been plugged into the new UI yet. So expect changes from what you see here.

We’re especially excited about the flexibility the control panel gives us for new features and for giving you instant access to search results and bookmarks. We also have enjoyed just reading the Bible in full-screen mode.

While the iPad is faster than the iPhone, we’ve also made changes to the code that have really sped up the display of text, making scrolling by verses and even chapters significantly more useful. The nice thing is that the iPhone and iPad code is the same at this level so the improvements will spill over to the iPhone.

Having said that, it should be obvious that not all the features of PocketBible for iPad will find their way to the iPhone. We’ll probably add split-screen, but not more than two windows.

One thing we’re concerned about is app approval times on the App Store. We submitted Romans Road for release on the April 3 iPad release date. We followed Apple’s instructions for making sure our app was available on April 3, but then we never heard anything further from them so we’re not sure what the status of that app is. We’ve heard the same thing from other developers.

We don’t have a schedule for releasing this version of PocketBible yet. As you can see it’s very nearly complete but there are some big features that need to be plugged in.

iPad Update

Posted on: March 27th, 2010 by Craig Rairdin 26 Comments

With the WiFi iPads shipping for delivery in less than a week, I thought we should update you on our status.

Today (March 27) is the last day to submit apps to the App Store and be guaranteed they’ll be available on the iPad App Store on its official release date (April 3). For a while that was our goal, but as time went on we realized it would be in everyone’s best interest if we had a chance to see what PocketBible looked like on the actual hardware. The emulator we run on our Macs is good, but it’s not the real hardware. We’re concerned about performance and simple things like the usability of the user interface, given that we can’t really tell how big our buttons are or what it’s going to “feel” like on a real device until we have one in our hands.

So, we won’t release a product to the App Store until we have a chance to see it running on real hardware. So that means sometime after April 3.

The great thing about the iPad is that it runs our iPhone code pretty much as-is. The bad thing is that it runs our iPhone code as-is. The experience of running an iPhone app on the iPad will be less than optimum, but it at least will give the iPad a couple hundred thousand apps on day one. Ideally, every iPhone developer will be customizing their apps for the iPad, and that’s what we’ve been doing.

While the iPad is a mobile device, it has the screen real estate of a desktop or laptop device (1024 x 768). That means while we’re using our iPhone code as a base, we have to think like we’re developing for the desktop. Not a desktop computer with a mouse and a real keyboard, though, but a desktop computer you operate with your fingers and type on a pop-up keyboard. So the interface is an interesting intersection of desktop and mobile paradigms.

So what will be new or different on the iPad? First, You’ll have plenty of space on the screen for some controls to be present all the time, just like on your desktop where menus and toolbars are generally always there. This makes it easier and more intuitive to get around.

Second, the bigger screen means there’s room to split the screen and show you more than one book at a time if you want.

Third, we’ve taken advantage of this opportunity to add a frequently requested feature: The ability to search your entire library at one time. The larger screen means there’s room to give you both a search results browser and a library browser at the same time. We think this is going to be a great addition to the program.

Finally, you can expect changes to how you open books and navigate within books. It should take fewer touches to find your way around your library.

We’ll post some more details as we get closer to releasing the product. With the actual release of the iPad itself coming up, we just wanted to give you some advance notice of what’s coming. We think you’re going to like it.

It’s iPad Ordering Day!

Posted on: March 12th, 2010 by Craig Rairdin 19 Comments

Apple started taking orders this morning (March 12) at 7:30AM CST for the new iPad. The WiFi version ships in time to arrive at your home on April 3, while the WiFi+3G version ships in late April.

You can place your order at The 16GB WiFi version is $499. 32GB is $599 and 64GB is $699. Add $130 to each of those prices if you want 3G. You’ll have to pay for a 3G data plan separately, of course.

As we’ve said before, we don’t talk about what may or may not be under development. But you can expect some new iPad-specific features in PocketBible that we think will make it an even more compelling application than it is on the iPhone and rival what we offer in PocketBible for Windows. We’ll get more details out as we get closer to a ship date.

And don’t worry about migrating your notes, highlights, bookmarks, and reading progress to the iPad. Before it arrives, we’ll have an update that will allow you to synchronize or backup your data to our server, then synchronize or restore it to PocketBible on your new iPad. Of course this feature will also let you move any user-created data you had on your old Palm or Windows Mobile phone to your iPhone assuming you have PocketBible for Windows running on your desktop or laptop. You’ll sync your Palm or WinMob phone to PocketBIble for Windows, then sync PocketBible for Windows with our server. Then sync your iPhone with the server and you’re done.

So if you want to be the first on your block to own an iPad, get your order placed as soon as you can. By the way, you can ignore the temptation to pay for expedited shipping. Your new iPad will be shipped in time to arrive on April 3 and the shipping is free. The 2-3 shipping option applies only to the accessories you order with your iPad, which will ship later.

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.

RomansRoad eTract Available for iPhone

Posted on: January 21st, 2010 by Craig Rairdin 10 Comments

A few weeks ago (around the turn of the year), I answered a technical support query about whether any of our eTracts for the Pocket PC had been published for the iPhone. They haven’t been, so it was an easy question to answer. However, that question planted a seed, which sprouted and leads to today’s announcement: our RomansRoad eTract is now available for the iPhone.

RomansRoad eTract is a Scripture-based discussion guide to help you share your Christian faith. Based upon the familiar “Romans Road” series of verses from the book of Romans, this witnessing tool uses a unique question and answer format to provide a framework to help you share your faith. As each new key verse is presented, probing questions and explanatory answers are also provided to help you both explain the Scripture and answer common questions that arise.

For example, Romans 3:23 states that all have sinned. Upon presenting this key verse, the RomansRoad eTract provides the following questions:

  • What is sin?
  • Who has sinned?
  • Does that include you and me?
  • Not convinced that you are a sinner?

Answers to these questions are provided using everyday language.

This format — presentation of a key verse with concise, clear commentary in a question and answer format — provides a framework allowing you to share your faith while personalizing your discussion. Since it is discussion-based, you are able to listen and respond to the questions you receive, and be sensitive to God’s leading.

An individual page or all pages can be emailed, facilitating both further consideration and follow-up at a later date.

If you find the RomansRoad eTract a helpful resource in sharing your faith, we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment on this article and/or post a review on the App Store with your experiences.

Find It On the App Store

The RomansRoad eTract is available on the App Store for 99 cents. Click here to go to the iTunes App Store now.

The RomansRoad eTract is fully stand-alone. It does not require PocketBible nor any other Laridian product. So, even if you use some one else’s Bible software on your iPhone (though you should try PocketBible, it’s free!), you can still use the RomansRoad eTract.

Some More of the Backstory

I first wrote and published this eTract for use on the Pocket PC. Since then, the text has been revised and expanded several times. I’d estimate that this is really the fourth or fifth edition of the text. I’ve published previous editions in paper format as well.

Last week, I posted the RomansRoad eTract icon on our facebook “fan page” and invited guesses about the program. Several were close, and a few were exactly right!

If you follow me on Twitter, this is what I have been referring to as my “#newsecretiphoneproject”.

Screen Shots

Sample Screen



AT&T vs. Verizon 3G Speed

Posted on: January 18th, 2010 by Craig Rairdin 24 Comments

A few months ago Verizon started running some pretty obvious ads for those of us who use both Verizon and AT&T. They compared their 3G coverage map to AT&T’s. AT&T came up wanting.

AT&T fired back, saying that their 3G network covers 97% of cell phone users, and that it’s faster. They further brag that AT&T users can surf the Web while they’re on the phone.

I’m sitting here this morning using a Verizon 3G modem connected to my MacBook, writing code for the iPhone in my pocket. On a whim I went to on both the Mac and iPhone to see what the results would be. on the iPhone took me to the App Store to download their free native app. On the Mac, runs in your Web browser. I downloaded the app to my iPhone and made sure both the Mac and iPhone were connecting to the same server in Kalamazoo, MI.

The results of three tests tests on each device are summarized below:

  Verizon AT&T
  Download Upload Download Upload
Run 1 790 Kbps 60 Kbps 205 Kbps 233 Kbps
Run 2 230 Kbps 60 Kbps 105 Kbps 130 Kbps
Run 3 430 Kbps 110 Kbps 70 Kbps 190 Kbps
Average 483 Kbps 77 Kbps 127 Kbps 184 Kbps
Overall 280 Kbps 156 Kbps

AT&T has an upload advantage, but most mobile Web surfing and email activity depends on download speed, not upload speed. Furthermore, AT&T’s overall speed (average of upload and download) is lower. So even if you did an equal amount of uploading and downloading (which would be very unusual), Verizon is faster.

This seems to undermine AT&T’s argument that their network, while covering very little of the geographic area of the US, is faster. It appears to me based on my one sample location (Coffee Emporium in Hiawatha, IA) that this is not true.

And while I may be able to surf and talk at the same time with my iPhone, if you read the fine print you’ll find out that only applies when you’re in 3G coverage. The one time I’ve needed to do it in the last two years I was not in 3G coverage and therefore couldn’t surf while I was on the phone.

The iPhone is a great device and if you live in certain areas of the country very close to an ocean you have great coverage. And the connection speed, while slower than Verizon, is certainly adequate for mobile Web and email activities. I really like my iPhone and recommend them to everyone. However, AT&T is its weak spot.

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 rather than posting them here in comments.

PrayerPartner for iPhone Updated

Posted on: December 28th, 2009 by Craig Rairdin No Comments

PrayerPartner for the iPhone has been updated to version 1.0.1, and is now available on the Apple App Store. Search for “PrayerPartner” in the App Store, or try this link.

This is a free update for all PrayerPartner owners. If you’ve previously purchased PrayerPartner, then either iTunes or your iPhone (or iPod touch) will notify you that the update is available.

New Features in 1.0.1

  • In response to customer requests, an optional passcode (PIN) requirement has been added. The optional PIN allows you to protect any sensitive information that you’ve added to your prayer list. (The PIN applies to the entire program, preventing access to all prayer requests if the PIN is not known.) Simply turn on the PIN requirement and select up to a 4-digit PIN. PrayerPartner will then prompt you for this PIN every time that PrayerPartner starts.
  • Automatic saving of data when PrayerPartner exits, such as when the phone rings or a text is received, has been improved.

PrayerPartner for iPhone

Posted on: December 15th, 2009 by Craig Rairdin 24 Comments

PrayerPartner for the iPhone is now available on the Apple App Store. Search for “PrayerPartner” in the App Store, or try this link.

For only $1.99 (you may have paid more for a cup of coffee today), PrayerPartner helps you manage an important spiritual discipline: prayer.

PrayerPartner helps you by maintaining lists of prayer requests, keeping track of which ones have been answered, which ones you’d like to pray for today, and which ones have already been prayed for today. Each request can be categorized, associated with a contact from your Contacts Address Book, and scheduled to be prayed for daily, on certain days of the week, or certain days of the month. Customizable email templates let you quickly mail a personal note of encouragement to a request’s contact. Plus, use the dated journal to record your thoughts as you pray.

Not Excited Yet? Keep Reading

Many of our PocketBible beta testers jumped on board to help with final testing of PrayerPartner. One common comment from them went something like… well, let’s hear from a few directly.

“PrayerPartner has given me the push I need to stay on top of other people’s requests. How many times do people specifically ask for prayer, and we somehow forget to ever petition the Lord on their behalf? This app is helping me make sure that I take their requests seriously, and it makes it easier to follow up with them when their prayers are answered.”
— Lawson C.

“I have found PrayerPartner to be indispensable. I did not know I had a need for an app like this until I started using it, and now it is on my home screen with the applications I use all the time.”
— Paul W.

“I didn’t know how valuable PrayerPartner would be until I started using it. Now I use PrayerPartner every day!”
— Mike O.

It’s interesting that a common theme developed: “I wasn’t really interested in a prayer-related program, but I found that it’s been good for me.”

Sort of like eating vegetables and flossing, I guess. :-)

Seriously, though, I’ve found this to be true for me as well. Now that I’m through developing and testing, I’ve been adding my requests. Here’s what I’ve added so far.

  • a daily praise, different for every day of the month
  • a daily prayer for my children, a different topic every day of the month
  • some friends to be prayed for weekly (some on Monday, some on Tuesday, etc.); I make notes of special needs or stresses so that I can remember to pray for them
  • prayer for our pastor, church and its ministries

Like our beta testers, I’m finding that PrayerPartner is helping me be both more focused and disciplined.

Screen Shots

PrayerPartner Home Screen

Adding or Editing a Request

Picking a Category

Viewing the Full Request

Still To Come?

If PrayerPartner proves successful, we have ideas that would allow sharing requests with others, even (potentially) PrayerPartner users on other platforms.

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