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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.

42 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    so sweet! I have an appointment with surgeon a week from Monday for frozen shoulder syndrome, maybe I’ll see what they’ll give in exchange. I’m thinking an iPad with PocketBible! Hey I’ll still have the right one, right????

  2. george0 says:

    wow awesome thanks for the speedy progress!

    will there be separate apps for the iphone and ipad in the iTunes store? i just cannot see how a lot of the new layout (e.g. the control panel, 2 page layout, etc.) you demo’ed will be able to fit in an iphone screen.

    btw one comment i have is that there seems to be a lot of wasted blank spaces on the edge margins which means less text per page. is there a way to adjust that margins to be smaller?

    it does look much faster than on the iphone! cant wait!
    thanks and great work!

  3. John Davis says:

    Personally I’d be perfectly happy with the iPhone app as it is but at the iPad resolution if it had meant getting it earlier. I hate these indefinite timeframes. I use PB multiple times a day and could really use the iPad version now.

  4. Mark says:

    Exciting, very exciting.

  5. Stan says:

    Now I’m going to have to go buy an iPad just so I can have this app!

  6. George0: The application is what Apple calls a “universal binary”, which means it runs on both platforms. However, it detects the screen size and gives you the iPhone interface on the iPhone. As I mentioned in the article above, we’ll probably let you split the screen into two windows on the iPhone but you won’t have the control panel. It’s possible that Apple will present it as two apps — they have iPad apps in their own section on the App Store. So to you it might look like two apps but to us they’re the same.

    With respect to the margins, did you watch the video or just look at the screen shots? The extra margin and line leading are only present when you have just one book open. It significantly enhances readability in that mode, where you’re obviously not studying and cross-referencing, but rather just reading. We may make it so you can eliminate the margins and the leading but it will be ugly and difficult to read. You probably don’t have an iPad yet or you’d recognize the “Zen of iPad” in this feature. Go look at iBooks or Kindle if you have an iPad.

    John Davis: We thought about doing a “giant iPhone app” for the iPad but decided the negative publicity of such a horrible iPad app would’ve been unbearable. We took the opportunity instead to do what you’re supposed to do with the iPad, that is, re-engineer the user interface to take advantage of the additional space.

    As far as indefinite time-frames, writing a program isn’t like baking a cake. There’s not a timer that goes off when it’s done. So we can’t just look at the timer and tell you how long before you can eat it. I could give you a date, but I’d only be making one up for the purpose of giving you a date. I literally don’t have one in mind. I can tell you we’ve been working 10-12 hour days and quite a bit over the weekend in the last month to get this out and it will be uploaded to the App Store just as soon as it’s ready.

    Thanks, everyone, for your comments!

  7. Ron Priest says:

    Thanks for all of your hard work Craig, Im so looking forward to the new iPad version! You had mentioned before that we would be able to synchronize our notes and highlights from our iPhone to the iPad, will this only be a one time sync, or will we be able to keep the iPhone and iPad in sync automatically like Bento for the Mac, iPhone, and iPad works?

    I don’t know if you plan on making the iPad version free or not, but personally I don’t have any problems paying for it, and I think you should charge for it. Sometimes when apps are free, people tend to think they aren’t worth downloading, but when it cost something, then they figure it must be worth it. Maybe you could have a free limited addition, and then charge for a full-blown version or something like so many other apps are presented.

  8. Ron: You will be able to sync your user-created data as much as you’d like. It’s not automatic — you have to ask the iPad to sync to the server, then ask the iPhone to sync to the server, then ask the iPad to sync again to pick up changes from the iPhone.

    This particular version of PocketBible will be free. In the future we will bundle the program with some content and charge for it. We were waiting to have user-data synchronization done before we did that.

  9. MarcT says:

    Very cool! I’m really looking forward to this (and if you need beta testers, I have 10 years of Palm underlines, hilights, and notes to stress the conversion process =) )

    I do cringe at the closing line, “it’s very nearly complete but there are some big features that need to be plugged in”. Those are contradictory statements ime. =) Or at least statements that lead to further 10-12 hour days!

    I hope it goes smoothly and the iPad submission queue thins out. Thanx for keeping us posted.

  10. Marc: Given that an entirely new UI layer has been slid in under the existing iPhone UI and that everything has had to be verified and fixed with the new UI all while making sure the iPhone UI still works, having notes be the remaining big feature is not inconsistent with saying “very nearly complete”. Compared to where we were three weeks ago it’s very nearly complete. :-)

    And it’s just the UI that has to be implemented. Nothing about the underlying storage of notes changes. But yeah, I’ve left it til last because it’s more challenging than highlights, bookmarks, categories, and reading plans.

  11. Timothy Satryan says:

    As a longgggg time user of all your products, from pre-phone Jornada, Windows Mobile, and for the last three years the iPhone, and a purchaser of the iPad on day one, I am VERY excited to have PocketBible on my iPad.

    May I assume that there will be a promotional email about its release, rather than our needing to check your web site every day?

  12. We don’t get a list of all our iPhone users and we don’t know who owns iPads so it’s difficult for us to email them. Since you already have PocketBible on your iPhone, you’ll get a notice that there’s been an upgrade, just like with any other iPhone app. The next upgrade notice you get will be the one. (That doesn’t mean it’s coming soon, just that we don’t intend to release an iPhone update between now and then.)

  13. Timothy says:

    Hi Craig! One of the features I’ve been hoping for is the ability to change the font and background colors. Will this be added in the next update? Thanks!

  14. Timothy: Probably not, though I’ve experimented with just changing the background color and I’ve seen it work. The basic capability is already in the program (there’s one place in the code where we tell all the text windows to use black text on a white background) so the task is just creating the user interface. It sounds easy but every time you add something you run the risk of breaking two other things you haven’t thought of.

    For example, we could let you change just the background color, but if you use a dark color you’ll want to change the foreground (text) color, too. So we have to add that. Then there are the “special” colors we use, like search hits, words of Christ and links. You’ll need to be able to change those when you change the background, or some of those will disappear.

    So say we did all that, then you open up the Ryrie Study Bible Notes and discover all kinds of tables with their own background colors. If you’ve changed the text color, the text could disappear against those backgrounds. So maybe we should automatically change the text color to contrast with the background color. Now we have a bit of a challenge, as we have to not only calculate a contrasting color that maintains any uniqueness about the original color (which may have been yellow text on a red background — not just simple black on white or even black on red), we have to do so on the fly — examining each color change as it happens. Or maybe we won’t want to do that because in some books the color of the text means something.

    So as you can see we go from a simple way to set the background color to needing to examine every use of every color in every book on the fly as we render the text. The obvious answer is to make some simplifying assumptions but even those can get complicated.

    Every feature is a can of worms, so we don’t take any of them lightly. We’ll eventually let you modify the colors but we need to get this first iPad release done before we expand the feature list any further.

  15. Bruce McNeil says:

    Very exciting! If you need a beta tester let me know.

  16. Bruce: Apple limits us to 100 testing devices per year (that includes our own). We have a small number of testers so that there’s room for them to upgrade during the year and for us to add new testers as we release new products.

    We’ll probably add no more than 4-5 testers for the iPad release since we already have several beta testers with iPads. When we’re ready for testers we’ll post an article here in the blog. It will be taken down as soon as we have an adequate pool of applicants from which to choose, so you have to be watching for it. Yeah, it’s not “fair” etc. but we have way more people who want to be testers than we have time to review, let alone actually need. :-)

    I do appreciate your interest in the program, though.

  17. Bruce McNeil says:

    Thanks Craig. I understand the limitations of beta numbers. I just really appreciate your work, and having used the products for years just wanted to offer to help.

  18. Timothy Satryan says:

    Hey, Craig, how about if you just use those who are posting so far in this thread as the beta testers? You know we have interest. Can’t speak for the others, but I am holding an iPhone and an iPad, so I could meet whatever criteria you have that way!

  19. Anthony Colletti says:

    Looks great.. I’d love to offer my iPad services as a test pad

  20. Tony says:

    You are doing a wonderful jod… and in my opion a very fast one at that.
    I have just watch the You Tube video and must say it looks good. I have to agree with GeorgeO comment thou, is there anyway for us to be able to adjust the margins distance (to about half) but being from the UK – still waiting :-(
    – I know that I haven’t seen how it looks and feels in the hand but just wanted you to know my thoughts.


  21. Tony and George: Please clarify that you understand the extra margin is only when viewing a single book. When you split the screen the margins and line leading go away.

    A full screen of text is very, very ugly on a device this large. Imagine your desktop monitor filled with text from edge to edge and top to bottom. Both the Kindle and iBooks apps add at least as much margin as we do, if not more.

    I can give you an option to remove it, but it’s a beautiful thing as-is. Very nice for reading.

  22. John says:

    I was just about to ask about color when I saw Timothy’s post and your response. Wow such a seemingly simple change has fatiguing implications. I do think an amber background like the notepad uses would solve some of the brightness issues. Good to hear that it may eventually find it’s way into the program. Thanks for all the great work.

  23. Tony says:

    Thanks Craig for you speedy reply, hope I am not stopping you from doing more importent programing work…. I fully understand your reasoning for the size of margin, what I mean was a option in the single mode to have the margin half its current size (left and right).

    One other small request is for the ability to rename the highlighted colours names (ie ‘Hot Pink’ to ‘God’s Ways’)I like useing a study theme that has been highlighted throughout my whole bible. And lasting a question, when in the split screen mode (two versions of the bible open) is it possible to have two NKJB opened side by side that isn’t sync, very useful when the preacher is flicking between two or more scriptures.

    Many thanks for spending the time in replying and the joy that you are bring to all the Christian Geeks in the world… :-)

  24. Yes, you can have the same book open in more than one pane. The video shows this at the end when I go to five panes. I think the last two or three are the same book.

    I like the idea of naming the colors, too. Not in this release, but it’s on the list for the future.

    With respect to margins, this is the problem — you don’t object to margins, you just want them to be 35 pixels instead of 70. Somebody else wants 42. So we have to make them adjustable. Top and bottom margins are smaller; they should be adjustable too. And we’ll want them to be independent, so you can have different left and right margins and different top and bottom. Then why not have them adjustable for all panes, not just single-pane? And why not allow each pane to have its own margins? You’ll need to be able to have different margins for landscape mode vs. portrait, bringing the total to 48 values that have to be put on the Settings menu (4 margin settings for each of 5 panes, plus 4 more values for the first pane when it is shown by itself, for a total of 24 settings for each of landscape and portrait). These need to be validated based on screen size so that you leave some minimum amount of room for text. How much? That would be the next subject of debate. :-)

    And you left out line leading. We’re using an extra 20% when in single-pane mode. Maybe 17% would look better, or 24.5%. Need to make that user-configurable. Now we have 12 more values to configure.

    Anyway, we’ll think about it. The good news is that’s the only thing you found to complain about. :-)

  25. Lawson Culver says:

    One thing that I’m not crazy about is the sideways text next to find, notes, etc. It looks like that might be a limitation of using that sidebar though. It just looks odd with the icons right side up, and the text sideways. I had to turn my head sideways to read “H’lites”. :-)

  26. Randall says:

    Will the fonts change size when zooming in and out and maintain word wrapping or will you have fixed font sizes?

  27. Lawson: On the toolbar, we remove the text when it is oriented vertically. We could do the same for the control panel tabs. I tend to look at the pictures and ignore the text. You will, too, once you spend 5 minutes with it and figure out where everything is at.

    Randall: Changing font size (i.e. “zooming in and out”) works exactly like you saw it in the video, and exactly like it currently works on the iPhone. You can select the font and font size from the Settings menu and the screen will be drawn with the new size. The text is wrapped of course so you don’t have to scroll from side to side to read it when you make the font larger. On the iPad, there is a shortcut (as shown in the video) that allows you to change font face, size, and overall brightness without going to the settings menu.

  28. Ron Priest says:

    Craig, you had said to Tony “A full screen of text is very, very ugly on a device this large” Well you’re the programer, and Im sure you know what you are talking about but I have to tell ya, I am currently using Mantis Bible Study App for the iPad (while I’m patiently waiting for the new PocketBible iPad version) and they don’t have any extra margins on the sides or top and bottom and I think it looks great. There’s already the built-in black border almost an inch wide around the enter pad, so I can’t imagine how it would look with additional margins wasting even more space. Just my 2 cents worth. I do hope we have the option to remove the margins if desired.

  29. I don’t mind giving you the option to turn off the margins and leading in order to make the page less readable. Maybe not in the initial iPad release but soon after.

  30. Tony says:

    Craig thanks for you lengthy, detail and funny reply. I guess you don’t have much hair left…. all these request to adjusted the program to each persons preferences. You are both doing a great job and I hope it grows back soon :-)

  31. Richard T. says:

    Looks awesome. It will be great when you update the Windows version as well. Then all the windows tables can keep up to the iPad.
    Don’t mean to add to your list, but just one suggestion. I have a small bible program on the Android (untill you catch up), and what they do for night reading is switch to white text on black. Give it some thought.

    Thanks for all your hard work. Looking forward to the finished product on the iPad.

  32. Oscar Pipkins says:

    Hi Craig. I enjoy working with the PocketBible, but there is one setting that I wish you would give us. You know how the iPhone is famous for just using your finger to scroll the screen up or down. Sometimes I don’t want to touch the screen and get a whole new screen/page. Sometimes I just want to smoothly scroll the screen up to see the next verse without loosing sight of the other verses. Maybe there’s already a way to do that. If so please help me out. You already do that with sub screens, and search results screens, but the primary text screen currently (at least appears) to not allow that. Am I the only one that has requested this? Thanks. I can do that with one of the other bibles I use. I prefer your bible, but I find the other interface fits my inclination better.

  33. Greg Surratt says:

    Hey Craig,
    I’m a pastor and am using iPad to create messages. I’d love a feature that cuts and pastes text and includes book and version info. Is that possible and is it a consideration?

  34. Richard: The next iPhone version will have a dimmer function that will let you crank the brightness down for reading at night.

    Oscar: I wrote a blog article on this a while back. You might find it interesting.

    Now that the iPad is out and iBooks and Kindle are two hot reading apps on that platform, you’ll find it confirmed that PocketBible works exactly correct. Once you get used to it, you’ll find it’s way more efficient and easier to use.

  35. Greg: Not only is it possible, it’s already in there. You can use the Copy Passage feature in PocketBible to copy a Bible passage to the pasteboard then paste it into another app.

  36. andrew beery says:

    Sweet! I’ve been a Windows Mobile user for a while as my mobile solution…. missed it when I went to the iPhone… and just got my iPad yesterday… Looks like a much better solution for the iPad than my Logos despite the difference in library size. If you need beta testers with a programming background and familiar with a wide range of products let me know!

  37. Suzanne says:

    I can’t wait. I use PocketBible on my iPhone several times a day and the iPad app looks terrific. What a God we have to put you, Craig and Jeff, in this important work with your specific gifts. He must be smiling down on you. Thanks for all your hard work.

  38. Tim Roberts says:

    Thanks for the update, is there a way that we with the Ipad will be notified when the Pocket Bible is complete. I have found that yours is the only one I like to use.

  39. If you install PocketBible on your iPad right now, it will tell you itself when there is an update just like all your apps do.

    We’ll post an article here on the blog as soon as we know it’s going live.

    We may also send an email to iPhone owners. (At least the ones we know about — who have registered.)

  40. David says:

    Just watched the video. Looks like a very nice app. I’ve held off on buying a laptop for some time as this tablet has been rumored for well over a year. I have my iPad but I don’t have a good app in which to read the NKJV or NAS (NAU) that don’t require internet connection. I’ve used PocketBible for my pocket pc (purchased about 8 years ago) my Palm Treo and now my iPhone but I’m really looking forward to using this application.

    My only question is will I be able to do boolean searches? I’d like to search for verses using two or more words to narrow down the list considerable; however I have not found a way to do that on the current iPhone version. Will this be in the new release? Is there a way to do it on the current iPhone?

    Now that Laridian has entered into the Mac space would they consider making a desktop version like they do for Windows? Just wondering.

  41. David: Searching on the iPad uses the same functionality as you have on the iPhone, which is documented thoroughly in the built-in Help.

    You can use AND, OR, XOR, and NOT operators in your searches. You can use parenthesis to group terms. You can search for occurrences of a word within so many verses of another word. You can search for Strong’s numbers in Bibles that have them, and find occurrences of English words only when translated from (or not translated from) a particular Strong’s number. You can use * and ? wildcard characters in words, and you can use letter ranges as wildcards (i.e. [sp]aul to find “Saul” or “Paul” but not “haul”). It’s more informative to read the help than for me to try to come up with examples of all these.

    The iPad actually has two ways to search. There’s a “quick search” search bar on the Find panel in the control panel and an “advanced search” dialog that is identical to the search dialog on your iPhone. You can see that in the video.

    We haven’t made any announcement with respect to a Mac version.

  42. Ron Priest says:

    “I don’t mind giving you the option to turn off the margins and leading in order to make the page less readable. Maybe not in the initial iPad release but soon after.”

    Okay, okay… I’ve finally purchased the Kindle App for my iPad along with some books for iBooks and now understand that the need for some margins around the border on the iPad is a necessity. So now in comparison to that “other iPad Bible app” which I had previously referred to which didn’t use any margins, it does make it less desirable to read. I do however like the way the Instapaper App allows the user to adjust the margins as well as leading to his/her satisfaction!

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