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.

27 Responses

  1. Lawson Culver says:

    Taking notes while still having the scripture up is the major killer-feature for me. I’m salivating already…

  2. Eric S. Mueller says:


    Are you still going to create the ability to sync notes and bookmarks between PocketBible for Windows and PocketBible for iPhone/iPad?

  3. Lawson: You and me both. I like that a lot.

    Eric: It’s already done and tested. We just never released it. We were going to do one last iPhone-only release before the iPad shipped but we didn’t want to take the extra time right then to go through beta testing and release. So we’re going to bundle it all together in the next release.

    What’s uber-cool is that I was able to sync my iPhone notes and bookmarks to the server, then grab them with my iPad. Since I’m using the same account on both devices, and since the sync functionality understands that I might have two or more devices under the same account (or even two or more copies of PocketBible running on the same device), there’s no problem.

  4. Paul Baggaley says:

    Actually I find the 5 pane interface on the iPhone is not entirely unreadable.

    As a compromise, how about allowing a 3 pane interface on the iPhone? One Large pane on the left and 2 half panes on the right.

    Counting down the days until we get our iPads internationally…

  5. Kaleb Rutherford says:

    I need this update now. How soon do we need to wait?

    If you need any testers, email me and I will provide my UDID.

  6. Ron Priest says:

    “With the new control panel, the entire application is still available while you’re writing a note. …it’s cool.” That does sounds cool, and very productive!

    “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” Yes sir buddy. I was sizing up my iPad tonight, I have removed my heavy Bible from my Bible case, and the iPad fits in there perfectly! The iPad will make Bible study at church so much easier (and faster) with the iPad and no one will know the difference (unless the glare from the Pad is to bright of a reflection in my glasses, LOL. At lease now with the iPad versus the iPhone, people won’t think Im texting on my phone in the middle of the preachers sermon.

    Speaking of light glaring in my glasses, will the new iPad UI have a switchable Dark/Light interface like the application Instapaper for the iPad? That would be really nice to be able to have white text on black background!

    I happen to have another Bible Program for the iPad that I’ve been using while waiting for the Pocket Bible

  7. Ron Priest says:

    Oops, I just found and read your comments in response to Timothy’s post taking about the difficulties involved with changing the background and font colors. Sorry I didn’t see that before I posted my questions above on the same subject. Feel free to edit that part out. Also, don’t misunderstand me, I do appreciate all you do. Im not complaining, just sharing some thoughts, but it sounds like you’ve already thought a lot about it all already.

  8. Paul: One of the fears we had when we talked about posting this screenshot was that people would want us to leave this “feature” in the program. Keep in mind that it’s a lot smaller on the iPhone than it is on your computer monitor.

    Kaleb: You need to wait right now. 🙂 If we need testers we’ll put a call here on our blog. See my other comments regarding beta testers.

    Ron: White on black will come along at some point. I’m at the point where I wanted to have the iPad version released by now so we’re doing our best to resist anything new. We will continue to release updates with new features after that.

  9. Kaleb Rutherford says:

    Very well. I will wait. Will continue to read the bible in 2X mode 🙂

  10. John Samples says:

    I made the final decision to buy my iPad this week because of what I’ve seen in this blog. Having spent the last two days playing with it, I think/hope you might be right, Craig, about this being THE PLATFORM for mobile study. I’ve been using your products since my first iPaq and this is the most eager I’ve been. Now, if we can just get some of that desktop love like our PC friends have…

  11. Steve Jones says:

    As long as Jobs and Apple maintain control over the _content_ of iBox apps, iBoxes will never be the best platform for any content. Yesterday’s controversial content was soft porn; tomorrow’s may be the Bible.

    Please don’t be naive about Apple’s greed or lust for power and let yourselves be seduced by the nice toys inside their walled garden. Its walls grow higher with each developers’ agreement and the gates are controlled by Apple, not by developers such as yourselves nor by a market enthralled by Apple’s shiny objects.

  12. Tony says:

    Thanks so much for an inside into the complexity of a combined app….. 🙂

    A request for a future function for a future release. The abilty of the multi panels to have a web brower working in it. Why you ask… glad you asked… I am working away from home and not away able to get to a church, so I often watch a sermon useing a podcast video or video from they web site. It would be so cool and fantastic if while I am watching the sermon,I can follow along on my “Mobile Study Bible” ( ie iPad or MSB 🙂 ) with the text right next to the video.

    Keep up the good work and I still think you should charge for the iPad version.
    If you don’t I will be buying more References or Bible Version from you to make it up to you, and hope many many others do the same.

  13. Joe C says:

    This comment is really for Ron Priest or others that wanted to have the white texts againts black background.

    Although this is a Global setting for the iPhone, iPod Touch & iPad, you can enable Accessibility setting “White on Black” by going to the Settings > General > Accessibility.

    Although it was designed fr the seeing impaired, its a quick way to get that functionality now.

  14. Joe: You can do the same thing on the Mac. I hadn’t looked for it on the iPhone. That’s a good tip.

    Tony: Keep in mind that part of the problem is that Apple designed the iPad to be a big iPhone, not a small Mac. You can do this on your Mac by bringing two apps up simultaneously. That’s how it should also be done on the iPad, but the iPad isn’t designed that way.

    Again, to carry this request to its logical conclusion, why not a window for every other app on your device? So you can bring up your email client while viewing a verse, cut-and-paste to an email, and send out an encouraging note? Why not an interface to iTunes for listening to our NLT audio Bible? Why not a window for the iBooks or Kindle app so you can simultaneously read books that are available for those readers while viewing the Bible in PocketBible.

    I say that not to shoot it down so much as to point out that sometimes the real flaws are in the OS, not our software. I talked about this in this blog article. Joe’s comment is a perfect example: The “reading at night” problem is more effectively solved by the device manufacturer than by every program that runs on the device. Using the accessibility features to invert the colors is the right answer to that problem.

    Keep the suggestions coming, though. 🙂

  15. Lawson Culver says:

    I knew about the reversing colors, but the temporary iPad Bibke software I’m using has a “low light” mode. Now that I’ve compared low light mode to reversed colors, I realized that it’s one and the same. If I turn on “low light” mode in the app then triple click to reverse the colors, the app has it’s normal bright colors.

  16. Mickey Little says:

    Do you have any idea as to when it will be ready to go for Apple’s approval? I mean are we talking 7-10 days or more like a month? I am currently using my iPhone edition on my iPad so like everyone else, I can’t wait.

  17. JWHayn says:

    Just thinking about the release day. April 30th is the next big wave of deliveries (the new 3G model). I hope that you will be there then to catch the new folks looking for an app.

  18. James says:

    Please, oh please include a sermon note feature soon. I’ve asked for this feature on the iPhone, but it makes even more sense on the iPad. The ability to take notes independent of a particular verse would be killer, especially with the ability to search them for verse hits or sync them somewhere later. Think of all those times that you can remember hearing a sermon on a particular verse or topic, but have no idea when it was. This feature permanently cures that problem. Also, being able to take the notes and use the other half of the screen for reading just makes this THE killer app for Bible study. I already take all of my sermon outline notes on the phone, but I have to switch back an forth to Docs To Go, which isn’t all that convenient even with a jailbroken iPhone and backgrounding enabled. If you add this feature, I may just have to hold off on the new iPhone to get an iPad.

  19. NRHJohn says:

    Please give us an update on the new version, Gills Sans 14 in 2x is rough on the eyes, but I can’t find an alternative I feel is better than the existing one at 2x. Just picked up yet another addition to my library, I can’t wait it’s almost worse than the anticipation for the iPad itself, well maybe not, but you get the idea.

  20. We’re releasing the program to beta testers tomorrow. I’ve been working on the Help file pretty much all day today. That’s a good sign that we’re all but done. Jeff’s still adding features. I can’t get him to stop. 🙂

    I’m really going to hold the line on new features once we go to beta so we can get to the App Store ASAP. You might see two or three rapid-fire updates after the first version is on the App Store because we have features on our to-do list that we’ve set aside in order to get this thing out the door. There are several small things that we can quickly do once the first version is out. We just don’t want to keep you all waiting any longer than you already have.

    Because I’ve been running the iPad version I’ve never seen PocketBible in 2x mode. If it’s anything like my other 2x apps it’s OK but not ideal.

  21. Edward Cook says:

    Got myiPad today. PocketBible and Logos 4 are the 2 main reasons for the purchase. Looking forward with great anticipation.

  22. Lawson Culver says:

    At church last week, I gave up on 2x and just ran it in tiny mode on my iPad. 🙂

  23. Jeff Wheeler says:

    Only 2 new features… !

  24. Joel says:

    I might actually get the iPad now that the 3g version is available, but I agree with Bill Gates that without a pen/stylus, it won’t accomplish all that I will want it to do. I’ve always wanted a tablet PC, but I was never happy with the screen resolution on them. I really like my iPod touch and I’ve played around with the iPad and I think it’ll accomplish most of what I want with the exception of note taking. I spend a lot of time in meetings and I don’t want to be typing away, I want to write & sketch notes, but I need a stylus to do so which won’t work on the iPad.

    Because I’m a gadget geek, I’ll probably get one but it’s still not exactly what I’m looking for.

  25. I carry a spiral notebook for taking notes even though I have all kinds of technology that could do it for me. While my phones, PDAs, and notebook computers have all come and gone, I have a stack of spiral notebooks dating back at least twenty years that I can refer to if I need to.

    I find I can touch type fairly well on the iPad. I have the cover that folds over and props it up at an angle to make it easier to type on. But I don’t use it that way for anything big. I also have the keyboard dock but after using the iPad for almost a month I haven’t even bothered to open the box it came in.

  26. Ron Priest says:

    Our pastor gives out his sermon notes each week on a half sheet of paper with key words missing, thereby encouraging us to fill in the blanks. It’s great! I’ll go ahead and fill in the blanks during the service but by noon on Monday the same note outline (with the blanks) are posted on the churches website in a PDF format. I’ll download the PDF, copy and past the sermons notes into my iPhone Notebook online at, fill in the blanks and sync the notes to my iPhone. Then I can easy copy and paste any part of the notes into PocketBible where needed. The other cool thing is our church provides WiFi access throughout the church building so it’s easy to edit the notes on my iPhone and they automatically sync via WiFi to my online account at

  27. John Fidel says:

    I am very excited about this update look forward to the release for the iPad. Now if Apple will just get this moving along….

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