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Archive for the ‘Product Updates’ Category

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.


PocketBible for iPad Approved for the App Store

Posted on: May 17th, 2010 by Craig Rairdin 65 Comments

We just got an email from Apple saying PocketBible for iPhone/iPad is approved for the App Store. It could take 24 hours for it to become visible to you. The rest of this posting is a repeat of the announcement we made when we uploaded this new version.

Features are described here.

Video preview here: www.youtube.com/user/laridianinc.

This version adds new features to the iPhone/iPod touch and has native support for the iPad. Current users of PocketBible will see this new version as an update in the App Store app just like any other update.

If you have notes, bookmarks, etc. in MyBible for Palm OS, PocketBible for Windows Mobile, PocketBible for Windows, or iPocketBible.com you’ll be able to move these notes to your iPhone or iPad with this new version. If you have Palm OS or Windows Mobile you first need to synchronize this data with PocketBible for Windows (desktop). Then synchronize from there to iPocketBible.com. Details are here. PocketBible for iPhone/iPad syncs with iPocketBible.com so you need to get your data there to start with, then when you sync with PocketBible for iPhone/iPad it will get your notes, bookmarks, etc. from your other device(s).


Search results are displayed in the Toolbox at the bottom of the screen. Your entire library is searched, usually in a fraction of a second. Library results are on the left; results for the selected book are in the list on the right.

Split the screen into as many as five panes (three shown here) to reference commentaries and other reference books.

Here I’ve changed the font and expanded the Toolbox to give me more room to type my notes. The notes viewer supports HTML so I can create this outline using nested ordered lists. Bible text can be pasted in HTML. Here I’ve made verse numbers bold and made the text small. Any unambiguous references (such as “Col 1:3-8″ at the top) are automatically linked.

When the iPad is rotated, the Toolbox moves to the side (either right or left).

The new calculator-style verse selection method is shown here. Select the book from a drop-down list, then key in the chapter and verse on the keypad.

The Bk/Ch/Vs (“3-tap”) verse selector sports larger buttons on the iPad and is ten buttons wide to make it easier to find chapter and verse numbers.

PocketBible is great for daily devotional reading. Here Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening is shown on the left and the Bible on the right. The Reading Progress window show what you’ve already read (in green) and what you need to read (in red). I’ve hidden the Toolbox to maximize space for reading the text.

PocketBible 1.3.0 for iPad/iPhone Released to Beta Testers

Posted on: May 2nd, 2010 by Craig Rairdin 30 Comments

We took step one of getting our iPad version of PocketBible released by handing it off to our beta testers this afternoon. We have one known issue we’re still working on, plus whatever our testers find in the next few days.

Our intention (as always) is to have a very brief beta. You never know what you’re going to run into, but the code has been working well for us in-house and we’re hoping the beta testers have the same experience.

As I’ve mentioned before, Apple limits the number of devices we can install to outside the App Store. We have 46 beta testers, many of whom have multiple devices. 14 of them have iPads. That doesn’t include our own employees and company-owned devices. Between all of those we’re right on the edge of not being able to add new devices to our list. With iPhone 4 coming in June we didn’t think it was a good idea to add any beta testers at this point. So you didn’t miss the announcement — there wasn’t one.

While we’ve been promoting this as an iPad version, the fact is that it’s a “universal binary” that runs on both the iPhone and iPad. Many of the new or improved features are also going to be available on the iPhone (and of course, iPod touch). Here’s the feature list in no particular order:

BOTH iPHONE and iPAD

  • User data synchronization with iPocketBible.com server
  • User data backup/restore to iPocketBible.com server
  • Screen brightness setting (Dim the screen for reading at night independent of the backlight setting)
  • Multiple panes (Two for iPhone, five for iPad. View multiple books simultaneously, or multiple passages in the same book)
  • Decreased page-loading time (thus launch time)
  • Splash screen now covers window drawing, then fades (OK, not exactly a feature, but it’s cool)
  • Gradiated title bars
  • Calculator-style go-to for Bibles (Select the book, then use numeric pad to enter chapter and verse)
  • Notes list now shows excerpt of note instead of excerpt of verse
  • Improved error messages when nothing is found as the result of a search. Try to tell you how to fix it.
  • Updated help

iPAD

  • Control panel (Keeps search results and lists of notes, highlights and bookmarks available all the time.)
    • Library search (All searches search your entire library, not just the active book)
    • Notes search (Search your notes using Boolean operators, just like you search the Bible)
    • Book notes (Add notes to non-Bibles)
    • Edit note while using program (Makes it easier to copy/paste verses into your notes)
    • View search results, lists of highlights/bookmarks while using program
    • Lock panes so they don’t sync to content movement (Handy while writing notes or following cross-references out of a search)
  • Additional margin and leading in single-book view (Makes for a pleasant reading experience)
  • Bk/Ch/Vs go-to has bigger buttons for iPad; laid out 10 buttons wide
  • Removed “lock rotation” setting. iPad has a hardware switch for this.
  • New title bar style

 

I’ll post more screen shots and videos this week. Your patience will pay off in the end. :-)

RomansRoad eTract Updated for iPad

Posted on: April 30th, 2010 by Craig Rairdin 3 Comments

Our RomansRoad eTract for iPhone has been updated for full iPad compatibility. If you already use RomansRoad on your iPhone or iPad, iTunes will notify you that the update is available.

When the new iPad SDK (software development kit) was released, I used the RomansRoad project as a means to learn and experiment with some of the new features provided on the iPad. Since the RomansRoad is a relatively simple application, it proved to be an ideal platform for learning and experimenting with some of the new capabilities and preparing for our PocketBible update to support the iPad. In fact, the RomansRoad eTract has been iPad compatible since before the iPad launch date, but due to some hiccups with the submission process and the fact that we’ve been so busy making PocketBible for iPhone/iPad so awesome, it’s just now available.

RomansRoad is what’s called a “universal binary”, which means that the same program runs on an iPhone or an iPad, though the features on each may differ. (For instance, on the iPad, a table of contents is shown when the iPad is rotated into a landscape orientation.) Since it is a universal binary, you won’t look for “RomansRoad eTract for iPhone” and “RomansRoad eTract for iPad” on the AppStore. You’ll just look for “RomansRoad eTract.”

Frankly, I find that the RomansRoad eTract is much more visually appealing on an iPhone than on the iPad. However, the truth of the gospel transcends the glitzy appearance (or lack thereof)!

The RomansRoad eTract is available on the Apple AppStore.

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 www.youtube.com/user/laridianinc. 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.

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