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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.

38 Responses

  1. Robert Shatto says:

    The ability to see two translation side by side would be great. Or a second window with the notes side by side windows that show the Bible text on one and the notes from the Net Bible or the Life Application Bible in the other.
    I’m still on the fence on the iPad but I could be pursuaded with the right software on it.

  2. Rebekah says:

    Thank you for this review. Laridian products have been my mobile bible study products of choice for years… ever since my PocketPC days. It is good to know that they will be availble if I do choose to get an iPad. Which, btw, is tempting :o)

    Rebekah

  3. Paul Meiklejohn says:

    That’s great news Craig.
    Just another reason to order an iPad.

  4. John says:

    Gotta say, PocketBible is a killer app for the iPad. It’s exactly why someone would even WANT an iPad in the first place. Do a good job and I may even be tempted to buy an iPad!

  5. Mike says:

    What is the possibility of making the page turning feature iPod gesture “finger flick” work on the PocketBible main reading page, too? It is so anti-natural to have to use the “screen zones” would it be possible for you to make that feature by for example a double screen tap? This is so distracting to using the program as every other section of your program uses this feature, as well as most other programs for iPod. I love PocketBible for iPod completely except for this feature. I’ve been a customer since the first palm version.

    Thanks,
    Mike

  6. Paul Iossi says:

    Thanks!!! This is good news indeed. I will be purchasing an iPad as soon as they are available and look forward to installing the iPad enhanced version of PocketBible to it as soon as I unbox it. :-)

  7. Mike: If you mean flicking right to left to turn the page (that is, the natural page flipping motion), then PocketBible already does it. If you mean using your finger to drag up and down to move the text, I’ve written extensively on that here.

    John: I’m with you completely: “PocketBible is a killer app for the iPad. It’s exactly why someone would even WANT an iPad in the first place.”

  8. Michael Werle says:

    Thanks! I couldn’t agree more and look forward to the iPad and the iPad version of PocketBible.

  9. Shawna Wright says:

    I have been wondering about the chances of using my Bibles on my Kindle too. Now that they have added the possibility of Apps, are you guys considering a program for that device? If so, it would be my favorite device ever. I don’t use my PDA anymore, but do carry my Kindle everywhere. I’m using my Laridian software on my netbook right now and I’m happy with that, so need for an iPad.

  10. Shawna: We “consider” every platform. And even after we dismiss a platform from our immediate plans, we continue to consider it for the future.

    Once we start developing for a platform, we continuously reconsider whether or not it’s a good idea to see it through to completion, or if our resources might be better spent somewhere else.

    Suffice to say at this point that we’re aware of the Kindle Development Kit. Very little information about it is available as of this date.

    Glad you’re enjoying PocketBible on your netbook. PocketBible is ideal for such lightweight platforms.

  11. Paul Baggaley says:

    I was immediately impressed with the iPad and my first impulse was “I want one!!” but then I started to reconsider if I could really justify it..

    but I hadn’t seriously considered PocketBible. As John said above, this is potentially the killer app, at least for me.

    the problem I have with PockBible for iPhone, Windows mobile etc is purely one of size – the small screen and small amount of text on view is not conducive to serious Bible study, although it’s great for reading along in church or in a group, or for simple personal reading. Although I’ve purchased almost all of the commentaries etc available from Laridian I must say I don’t really use them to their potential. So an iPad with it’s larger screen real estate and ability to display more text, would be the perfect Bible study tool! Although you must have a split screen feature – while this would be cool on the iPhone, it will be ten times more valuable and useful on the iPad.

    Super excited about this!

  12. Roger Owens says:

    That’s great news. Seems to me, Apple, Inc. should help you, even pay you, to enhance PocketBible for the iPad. As many have said here, PocketBible on the iPad is enough to sell a lot of people on the iPad, I think. That being said, I’m enjoying Pocket Bible on my iPod Touch very much. It’s always on me, everywhere I go. Thank you.

    I know you’ve written on the flicking issue. I understand your points, and having used MyBible on several Palms for years, the paging function with a single tap (or click as it was) makes some sense. The problem is, 98% (?) of all other applications on the iPhone and iPod Touch (and iPad) use the swiping gesture—to which we’ve become accustomed. We had to retrain our brains and have, but we have to re-train our brains again to use PocketBible this way. Seems to me, the ideal, would be to take away any conscious thought needed for page turning/scrolling so one’s brain could concentrate fully on what is being read (while subconsciously scrolling the text) while we read. Hope you understand my point.

  13. Richard Cravy says:

    Compared to laptops and netbooks, iPad seems to offer some significant advantages:
    1. Instant on – no waiting to boot up
    2. One touch program launch
    3. Easy application installs
    4. Economical app prices, at least for now
    5. More portable even if not pocket size
    6. Does basically all most people use a home computer for — email, web surfing, games, and maybe one or two apps

    I am excited about the future of Bible study and Bible teaching using the iPad.

  14. Roger: It is not the case that 98% of other apps on the iPhone use the swiping gesture in situations like PocketBible is in (displaying a virtually infinite amount of text in a way that promotes reading and comprehension). In fact, it could be argued 98% of e-book texts on the iPhone are paged like PocketBible, not flicked. Again, this is what I talk about at length in my blog post on that topic.

    Furthermore, your analysis of what your brain does while your fingers are busy scrolling through the text is the opposite of what the research shows. You actually comprehend less when you read the way you describe than when you read paged text. This is also discussed in my blog post.

    As I said in that post, I’m very aware of the arguments for scrolling vs. paging through the text. Neither I, nor the writers of the other major e-book reader software, nor the researchers who study reading comprehension would agree that scrolling is better in this case. But I appreciate your comments. :-)

  15. MarcT says:

    Sounds like a fantastic Bible Study platform, although everyone will think I’m watching YouTube in church. Hopefully the screen will dim enough to be unobtrusive?

    BTW, what’s wrong with split views? I haven’t dug into them yet, I just assumed they work like the splitter control on Windows, which seems perfect for showing multiple books or versions. Are there painful limitations?

  16. Marc: UISplitView must be the root view controller in your app for some reason. A corollary is that one of the views in your split view cannot itself be a split view.

    Split views can only be side-by-side (not top-and-bottom). The narrow view must be on the left. There are limitations on its width.

    Split views are only split when the device is in landscape mode. When in portrait, the left view goes away and has to be displayed as a pop-over.

    The system doesn’t manage (and may not even allow) the movement of the border between the two views.

    So it’s nothing like a Windows splitter control. As it is, UISplitView solves some very specific problem for some very specific app and has only limited generic application. As a result IMHO it doesn’t belong in the SDK. That is, it’s fine if an app wants to implement behavior identical to UISplitView, but it’s so limited and task-specific that it’s out of place in the SDK.

    Also while I’m here let me just point out to Roger and others that the iPad book reader app (“iBooks”) uses a paging interface, not scrolling. :-)

  17. Nathan Youngman says:

    Thanks Craig, looking forward to your Universal updates. Another reason to consider an iPad in the future.

  18. Diana says:

    Why don’t you make one for the Windows 7 tablets? I would use it, especially if it had side by side. I have the Amazon Kindle on mine but would like an app that would let me put in handwritten notes like Windows tables can. I have the ESV for OneNote on mine, but would like other translations.

  19. Diana: Our current PocketBible for Windows program works great on your Windows 7 tablet. Go to http://www.laridian.com and select the “Windows-based Personal Computers” link to read more about it.

  20. Bill says:

    Craig,

    I’ll probably be getting a iPad but until then, PocketBible for iPhone is my primary “carry” Bible. I’ll be looking forward to what you and your team can do with the expanded platform. I’m sure the larger format will be easier on the eyes.

    Thanks,

    Bill

  21. Larry says:

    2-5-10

    Craig,

    Sorry about communicating this way. I know I know I am in the iPad discussion area. I”m sure you have built into your system a question/answer platform for general questions.

    Anyway, I have most of the programs for my iPhone. I love the program. I stopped taking other computers to Bible study.

    One question. Is there a way to develop a way to search what has been placed into notes? I would find this most helpful.

    Another small point. I always backup on my main computer whatever is in notes.
    That way, if my iPhone crashes , I will be able to reinstall the notes. (About 6 months ago I had to get a new iPhone, which removed all App information that I had stored.) I wish information stored on non Mac developed applications could be backed up on the Mac. However, I have found this to not be the case. Am I wrong?

    Thanks, great product. Your offering the program free plus a few basic Bibles was a great way around keeping the Apps cost low for the iPhone diehard. Paying more for real Bible study is no problem for students of the Word that demand deeper study. I own almost all the books.

    Now if we just had verb parsing………

    Larry

  22. Larry: You can always just email me directly with your comments and suggestions. My email is craigr@laridian.com.

    Being able to search your notes is already on the planned feature list for a future update. The code to do this is already in the program; we just need to add the user interface so you can get to it.

    I’m not completely clear on how much backing-up of your data is performed by iTunes when you synchronize. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it restore my notes in the past, but I’m not sure. Anyway, the feature I’m currently working on is the ability to back up all your user-created data (notes, highlights, bookmarks, and devotional reading progress) to our server. From there you can either re-download it to another iPhone, access it directly through http://www.iPocketBible.com, or sync it to PocketBible for Windows so you can have access to it from your desktop PC. I don’t have a ship date for this feature yet, but it’s coming.

    Thanks for your comments. Glad to hear you’re enjoying the program.

  23. Joel says:

    I think the iPad looks cool, but I think for it’s size, a Windows 7 Tablet would be much more functional. Back in the Atari 2600 days, running one app at a time was fine, but who wants to completely stop what they’re doing just to switch over to do a web search, reply to an e-mail or check your calendar? How about having PB on half of the screen and a word processor on the other? That’s already built into Windows Tablets with a several year old version of PB, but impossible on the iPad. For increasing the size of the device 4 times, you’d think they could add functionality to make the iPad work like a computer instead of a MP3 player.

  24. Jeff says:

    this is gonna be awesome. i preach in a fairly dark auditorium and typically have trouble seeing the text in my bible. your app plus the ipad are gonna make sundays so much easier! if the app includes 2 window, one for the text and one for my outline, all the better!

  25. Jeff Roster says:

    For me the PB is the killer app for the iPad. Everything else the iPad does is interesting but not compelling. I’m in once I can highlight individual words as I can on my Pocket PC. Craig, any timeframe for that? Right now I’m in both worlds with a Pocket PC, Windows desktop and an iPhone.

  26. Adam Keegan says:

    I agree that the Ipad is a killer app for PocketBible IF pocketBible has split screen view (or better).

    I guess it’s release is going to further delay the promised swipe up / down for page turning on iPhone – it’s already been a while…

    Roger I agree and refute the ‘research’ about scrolling text not being as comprehendable / memorable. This research would depend ENTIRELY on the people researched. If it were 45 year olds + I can see that may be the case. The other thing to note is that the whole point of a PHONE based system is it’s size & useability. iPhone is a small screen which is intuitive and perfectly suits scrolling up & down. iPad’s larger screen looks like it will be big enough for side to side page turning to be logical & fit the device perfectly. It will probably sit on my desk permanately open in the Bible so I don’t have to use PB on Virtual windows :)

    I don’t know yet if iPad will get much other use from me – Pages for note taking, Photos for showing previews to potential clients and the Bible. Any one of these three would be enough to push me over the edge to buy one at the prices stated.

    Will wait to see how PocketBible performs for iPad…

  27. Adam,

    The research I’ve seen involved college students reading text books and other materials for which comprehension was the important goal. Just to be picky, you can “disagree” with the research, but not “refute” it unless you’ve done your own. :-)

    I’ve been working on synchronization of user data (notes, highlights, bookmarks, reading progress) with our server. It’s completely different than the method we use to do synchronization on the desktop and it took some time to nail it down. That’s what’s been occupying my time, not adding an additional method to turn pages.

  28. Adam Keegan says:

    lol – you got me Craig – though maybe I could refute it with logic?

    If someone has grown up learning a particular way – a new way is harder. People who grow up with French as their first language will take longer to learn in English. People who have read the KJV for years don’t understand the NLT.

    So surely people who use digital devices predominantly, have ‘grown up’ using them to learn, would find learning on them easier and the information would sink in more?

    On the subject of new learning – programming is way out of my league, the issues of synchronizing must be intense! I hope it goes well – and that you get to a new navigation method soon :)

    (I have worked around the slow startup time by using Backgrounder which keps PB running – start time now = 0.2 seconds!)

    Take Care

  29. Joel says:

    Windows Phone 7 was revealed a few days ago, have you released a version of PB for it yet???? J/K

  30. Actually we’ve run out of memory for the name of “PocketBible for Windows CE/Handheld PC/Handheld PC Professional/Palm PC/Palm-size PC/Pocket PC/Windows Mobile Smartphone/Windows Mobile Standard/Windows Mobile Professional/Windows Phone” in the About box and as a result we’re going to have to do some major re-design of the code. So it’s going to be a while.

  31. Brian says:

    I have an old small Fujitsu tablet PC that has a 8.9″ screen. It is perfect for Pocket Bible for Windows and is what I take to church instead of a paper Bible.
    I also use OneNote to take notes so I have everything I need in a small form factor.

    If the iPad “version” of PocketBible allows the same features of PB for Windows (creating notes, highlighting, etc), I will make the change. Otherwise I’ll stick to Windows-based tablets.

    I love your products!!! (Android version anytime soon??!!)

  32. Les says:

    The main reason I want an Ipad is for bible software.

  33. Jeff Foster says:

    I love PocketBible and have used it on three platforms. I loved it on iPhone so I got an iPad expecting it to be ready at launch. Well needless to say I can’t wait to use it for study. The iPad is fast, convenient and fun to use. It would be great to see a new Laridian app on the App store top list.

    I think the iBook reading style is excellent, so could Pocket Bible use it’s navigation system? Also a new name could be Pad Bible, iWord Bible.

    In Christ alone,

    Jeff

  34. Jeff:

    Sorry we missed the launch (though we did tell you in advance we would miss it). The two issues were a) we were nervous about shipping without running on actual hardware, and 2) the more we learned about the iPad the more features we felt were essential. I think we’ve capped the feature list, but not everything is implemented yet. We’ve fixed at least one bug that would’ve bit us on the real hardware that wasn’t a problem on the emulator, and we’ve noticed other companies shipping updates to also fix their surprise bugs that showed on on April 3.

    I’ll probably post some screen shots and a feature list this week.

    What elements of the iBooks “navigation system” do you prefer over PocketBible? PocketBible already lets you flip pages by swiping (though without the uber-cool animation) and has better Bible navigation. We don’t have to repaginate the entire book when you change the font size like iBooks does (which subsequently makes it run really slow for several minutes). We don’t have the row of dots across the bottom, but frankly that’s not very useful for navigating a Bible. In fact, in 2-3 years of reading on a kindle I’ve never used the similar Kindle feature for navigation.

    Don’t expect us to change the name. We have a lot invested in the PocketBible brand and don’t want to introduce any confusion by changing the name. Furthermore, the very same program will run on either iPhone or iPad, so we don’t want “Pad” in the name.

    Thanks for the suggestions.

  35. Larry says:

    Just waiting for your launch.

    A lady in the airport let me try the ipad. The display is bright and very detailed. This machine is really quick.

    I am going to hold off purchasing it until I see what you have done. It could be the perfect Bible study machine to take to Bible studies.

  36. John Chilson says:

    I will immediately buy a Bible App from Laridian as soon as it becomes available on my PanDigital Novel. If anyone can do it right it is Laridian. Simply making an ePub won’t work — Table of Contents is NOT handy for finding book, chapter and verse.

    Please don’t keep me waiting too long.

  37. Monty Kaufman says:

    Absolutely love PocketBible for the iPad!!! Used it in the pulpit this last Sunday when I preached. Split screen view is great. Highlighting and bookmarking is awesome! PocketBible for the iPad was a pleasant surprise as I has had used it on my Palm TX for about 10 years, but didn’t know I could use it on my new iPad. Found it one night about 2:00 am in the app store, typed in my account details and everything I had bought was downloaded…beautiful! Recommended it to a friend and the love it too! Thanx for all the work!

  38. Craig says:

    With the updated Kindles out, I started thinking again that Pocket Bible on the Kindle would be so much better than anything else out there. I have gone from using your program on the Palm to Windows CE to the Blackberry. It would be great to move to the Kindle instead of reading on my Blackberry during my commute.

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