Subscribe to Updates

Click here to subscribe to new posts by email. We use Google FeedBurner to send these notifications.

iPhone Musings

Posted on: July 5th, 2007 by Craig Rairdin 35 Comments

Please note the date on this post. Read our more recent posts on the iPhone for more up-to-date information.

If you take a look at the comments you’ll see that our two posts about the iPhone have generated a lot of feedback. This has been one of the most (if not the most) popular topics on the blog.

It’s been quite an interesting phenomena in the industry. Unlike other new product announcements, there were few developers (beyond the big contributors like Google) who were brought into the inner circle and given access to the iPhone in advance. Very little was known about it until recently when developers could actually hold one in their hands.

As it turns out there is no ability to install third-party applications — not even Widgets. The only kind of application you can put on the iPhone is one that is accessible through the Web. Existing Web applications probably work OK on the iPhone, but they’re not optimized for the way its unique (i.e. “quirky”, “smart”, or “retarded” — depending on your perspective) user interface works. A good iPhone app needs to be carefully designed to work around its weak points and take advantage of its strong points.

I suppose if we were to do Bible software for the iPhone we could host it on a site, say iPocketBible.com and people could browse to it from their phone or actually from any desktop, PDA, or phone with an adequate Web browser. iPocketBible.com would have to offer features that you can’t find on existing Web-based Bible sites. And since those sites aren’t optimized for iPhone, iPocketBible.com would be much easier to use.

We’d also have the advantage of content that isn’t available at other Web-based sites. Our licenses with Christian publishers give us the ability to publish more than the public domain “classic” Bibles and reference books you find elsewhere. Sure, there are a few modern Bibles available at those sites, but iPocketBible.com would be able to give you access to commentaries and reference materials that aren’t available elsewhere.

Well as I’ve said many times before, we can’t talk about products that may or may not be under development. If we’re working on it, we’ll neither confirm it nor deny it. If we’re not working on it we’ll neither deny it nor confirm it. But we really appreciate all the interest you’ve shown and the comments you’ve posted regarding the iPhone.

35 Responses

  1. Paul Levinson says:

    The iPhone will continue to generate interest – it is the fulfillment of decades of prediction…

  2. Andrew Brown says:

    Hope your church has great ATT&T coverage… :)

  3. Actually, it has WiFi and the iPhone will automatically detect and use it.

  4. Kevin Jackson says:

    So, if you were working on something like that, would it be a subscription based service (ie. monthly/annual plans) with access to everything or would it be more along the lines of your current model (ie. I buy what I want/need and it is mine to use in perpetuity). If you were working on it, that is. ;)

  5. Nathan says:

    If said product did exist, that would be absolutely astounding. Laridian definitely has the content, and it would be super great if my investment in that content could be carried across to iPocketPhone. The thing with these services is that they involve monthly hosting costs. I’m not big on subscriptions, but I would be willing to pay a nominal monthly fee to access the reader, if my existing content came across free and additional content was a one-time fee. There are certainly interesting things you could do with a business model. Maybe some people rather have all the content all the time, and pay a premium fee for that. Personally, I’d rather not have ads, especially with so little screen real-estate.

    It sounds like you guys have some good ideas. It’s true that it could work equally well on a Windows Mobile phone or Palm Treo with a few modifications. Sounds like it could be a whole new direction.

    Besides being optimized for the small screen, I haven’t seen Bible web sites where you maintain an account and can keep your highlights and notes on the server to view later. No more syncing! And buying new content right from your phone. Despite some downsides, it sounds like it could be pretty awesome.

  6. Kevin:

    It’s difficult to pay royalties to copyright owners on a subscription model. There could be a subscription fee for access but a one-time fee for each piece of content you wanted to access. In other words, it wouldn’t be unlike MyBible or PocketBible except access to the program itself would be by subscription.

    That would be one way to do it, anyway.

    Nathan:

    That’s quite a service you’ve described there! Sounds pretty cool.

  7. Nathan says:

    It would be delightful if the reader was a one time fee as well, but at the same time I wouldn’t want to service to get canned for lack of funding to keep the servers going. Plus, being a non-free service would keep it from becoming over-populated, keeping things running “crisp.”

    Thanks Craig… what can I say? I think this would be a pretty awesome project to work on, if not for prior commitments.

    If you want to get fancy, think del.icio.us for bookmarks/highlighting. I often can’t remember the exact words of a verse, but have a general sense of the concept. What if I had tagged it before and could search that way? What if tags from the rest of the community were searchable?

    I’m not sure if the small screen can handle collaborative bible study, but the point is there is an awful lot of possibility. And the great thing about web is the base model can be upgraded seamlessly with new features.

    Indeed, the most difficult thing is determining what to leave out. Both for the sake of schedule, and a clean user interface. That exercise is left to the reader. :-)

  8. Hashim says:

    Perhaps the PocketBible “application” can be an html file that is locally saved on the iphone and browsed even while offline.

  9. Hashim:

    HTML files cannot be saved to the phone. There’s no way to get them there.

  10. Antoine of MMM says:

    Intersting ideas that’s for sure.
    Making the MyBible/PocketBible programs as client applications for an online service would be a way around the inability to save aspects of the web service on a device. For those devices that cannot take the client, then keeping the profiling/subscription model would work as well. Ideally, this would be something that takes the pocket metaphor of Laridian’s offereing and pushes that a lot further. Considering that they have the content, the only real questions to be answered on their ends is if the amount of time to develop and support such a complex application would be worth it.

    Thanks for keeping the discussion open Laridian.

  11. Robert Mullen says:

    I attended WWDC 07 and the Web 2.0 announcement was met with a thud as far as my CIO and I go. We develop systems for logistics on Windows and are in the process of switching partially to OS X. We have done a good deal of Pocket PC/Windows Mobile/whatyoumightcallit and are keen to see what is available in the OS X world. Why they would not open the iPhone is a mystery to us although we both felt it was an attempt to keep v1 capabilities quiet which everyone knows is the of the utmost importance to Apple. I have no doubt the iPhone will open up. As for me, as swanky as the hardware is, I will not buy it if it can’t run my Bible software and GPS software. Everything else I can find another way to do but those two are critical.

  12. Nomad says:

    Having had a WinCE device and several Palm devices which all used Laridian software for my bible-browsing needs, I’d definitely be willing to pay for iPocketBible.Com. eBible and BibleGateway are good, but neither are iPhone optimized, nor do they allow the number of versions that Laridian does.

  13. JIm webb says:

    I would definitely buy a subcription to ipocketbible if it is developed but still hold out hope that the platform will open and a local device copy can be installed. for me too having, preferably offline, bible software is a must.

  14. Wesley says:

    Gentlemen – having owned an iPhone now for all of 8 days, rest assured that the multi-touch interaction and user interface are very well suited for a reader application – even web based.

    I am very interested in a Laridian application, and see no reason that in principal, this could be implemented as a web-based application. Without question, newer versions of iPhone will be 3G, so it will become even less of a concern. Certainly, I would prefer a true application should Apple ever truly open it up for developers.

    Again, if you haven’t had a chance to interact with an iPhone and its svelte interface for scrolling, zooming, etc. – take time to do so. The screen resolution and rendering is fantastic, and it would (will?) be a great platform for Laridian. Note that over 1M units have already purportedly been sold!

  15. Wesley,

    We do have a couple iPhones here so we know what they can do. Thanks for your comments.

    Craig

  16. Mike Jolley says:

    Count me in too! If it is developed, I would definitely buy a subscription to ipocketbible. I would prefer if the iphone platform will open and a local device copy can be installed. However, having bible software is a must and MyBible has been a GREAT program!

  17. Mike Jolley says:

    I can just imaging what a GREAT job Laridian could do with the content and talent you have, if you were considering something like ipocketbible.com, that is!

  18. Michael Lallemont says:

    Thank you if you are considering developing for the iPhone! I love my iPhone and wish I could use DailyReader on it everyday. I didn’t use much of the other features of PocketBible, but now that it will have an easier to use interface, I will use it more.

  19. bryan says:

    As a long time Pocket Bible and current iPhone user, I would love to see the ipocketbible.com become a reality. Count me in!

  20. Lawson says:

    I was working on my own version of a web-based Bible reader for the iPhone, but I ran into the whole copyright hurdle. I have a development version working OK with KJV, but what I really want is NASB. Buying something from Laridian is the next best thing… I love the stuff I bought for my Pocket PC.

  21. Marc Thompson says:

    YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! I love my iphone. so far I have been using Biblegateway.com. Its great in terms of being able to access many different translations. However I would love something designed specifically for the iphone. My dream features would be:

    1. Being able to take notes,highlight, and access them. (maybe store them on a server)
    2. Access to as many translations as possible
    3. If I’m reading a passage being able to tap a button and access commentarries on that passage.
    4. If I’m reading a passage being able to tap a button and access different translations of that passage.
    5. Keyword search, Passage search
    6. Some kind of Lexicon, being able to access greek and hebrew definitions of words.
    7. Being able to flip my finger across the screen and have it flip to the next page of whatever passage I’m reading.
    8. Bookmarks
    9. Being able to write studies…. i.e. cut and paste verses on Pride or Love along with personal notes and be able to access them on ipoketbible.com (I know iphone doesn’t have a clipboard yet, but word on the street is, it’s coming in the first update this fall.)

    I would be willing to pay a reasonable fee. To be honest it might be nice to have these things stored on a server instead of my phone. I know with your other products I could’nt fit all the services you offered that I wanted on my PDA.

    I hope this comes to fruition.

    Marc

  22. Marc,

    Thanks for your comments.

    Regarding Greek and Hebrew lexicons: The iPhone supports very limited Greek characters and no Hebrew, and of course there’s no way to install fonts. We find this disappointing but if we were to implement something for the iPhone at http://www.ipocketbible.com we’d probably leave the Greek and Hebrew characters in place and let the iPhone “catch up” to us. That is, once it has better Greek and Hebrew support it would just start working.

    Regarding flipping your finger at across your iPhone: Web-based apps don’t actually get to interact with any of the UI elements. Whatever you can do in the Web browser is what you get. So all the normal scrolling motions might work but we couldn’t define any custom gestures or redefine the actions of existing gestures.

    Thanks again for your comments.

    Craig

  23. S├ębastien says:

    Hi,
    I bought a electronic bible for ipod recently, but i can’t connect at your server.

    My account works, but the link “download” doesn’t connect.

    If possible to send me by mail.
    Please
    Thanks !

    S├ębastien

  24. matt says:

    This is great–I decided that whether or not I purchase an iPhone is solely contingent upon whether or not good Bible software is available for it. The fact that you can’t add software to the iPhone is certainly a bit of a headscratcher. I currently use a Treo 650, and while it’s completely boring in comparison, I know that I always have access to my favorite NLT bible thanks to Laridian. I’d gladly pay for access to iPocketBible, and I’m so thankful that you guys do what you do.

  25. Matt,

    Thanks for your confidence. Wait ’til you see it. I think you’ll be impressed.

    Craig

  26. Robert Mullen says:

    Are you guys looking for beta testers? I am a current user of you Windows Mobile software and have recently purchased an iPhone for development use at my day job. I don’t know if it is a plus or a minus but I am an application developer by trade working on Windows, Linux, and OS X platforms. I do desktop, web, and server based development (C#, VB, Java, and a little C++.) I will most likely be a user of this system when it opens up and would be happy to help it along in some way (and very happy to have a good bible reader on my iPhone.) Feel free to drop an email or post here if you are going to have a beta program that has openings.

    Thanks and keep up the good work.

  27. Hi Robert,

    The beauty of a Web-based app is that it can be changed fairly easily and deployed to all users. So whatever feedback we get from users can be used to make the program better and everyone benefits. This minimizes the need for a formal beta. Also we want to go live as fast as possible.

    With this in mind it’s unlikely we’ll do a beta. But thanks for your interest and keep watching for news.

    Craig

  28. Robert Mullen says:

    Can I put in a request for Memorize functionality too? I use it daily on my 8525 and would really like to see it on the iPhone. Any hints as to a release date?

  29. Paul Petteron says:

    Take a look at tiddlywiki.com for ideas on just how application like you can make a website. TW is a single file wiki, no server required, that said – there is some cool work on the server side of things – like getting content asynchronously while reading other content.

    Too bad you can’t save HTML files – can you cache things locally and under web app control through their extensions?

  30. Paul,

    I agree we’ve been writing cool server-based apps on relatively dumb clients for at least 40 years. It’s not difficult to create something that looks nice. And it’s not even that hard to create something that has nice functionality even under the hardware constraints of a device like the iPhone. The issues are more practical. For example:

    • Does the “application” launch like other apps on the device? Probably not — you have to go to your browser and either navigate to a Web site or call up a bookmark.
    • Can data be stored locally or does it require a lot of network access?
      • How much does network access cost? (It’s a fixed cost with the iPhone, so that helps.)
      • Is the network available at the locations from which you want to access the app? (The iPhone has WiFi support so you increase your chances of having access to the network.)
      • Is the network speed adequate for the application? (We transfer a lot of Bible text to iPocketBible, which obviously takes longer on the EDGE network than on WiFi.)
    • Can the application access special features of the platform, such as the PIM database, the dialer, music player, UI controls, etc.?

    I think the look of iPocketBible will be pleasing. The concern is if people can get it out of their heads that it’s NOT a native app so when it does something unusual that can be easily explained as an artifact of running in the browser, can the average user understand it?

    For example, our iPocketBible program for iPod limits the amount of text that can be downloaded to the iPod at any one time. This has nothing to do with us — it’s due to the dumb way the iPod Notes app is designed. In fact, we provide a really nice program for moving text up and down to mitigate the problems caused by these limitations. However, some users blame *us* for not doing a better job of implementing iPocketBible on the iPod. They simply ignore or don’t understand the implications of the limitations under which we’re working.

    So the question is, will iPhone users put up with the dumbness of the iPhone in certain areas? For example, to scroll our text requires a “two-finger scroll” action. This is a normal part of the way the iPhone works but is different than what users are used to seeing on Web sites. Will we get “blamed” for not recognizing the single-finger scroll, even though all scrolling is actually handled by the iPhone and we don’t see it at all? We’ll see.

    Craig

  31. Lawson says:

    Craig,
    My iPhone seems to scroll fine on web pages with a single finger. Are you saying there is something about the iPocketBible for iPhone program that will require us to scroll differently than in any other web app?

  32. Just as I feared. :-)

    No, I’m saying that iPocketBible will scroll just like every other Web site you go to that contains text in a <div> tag that scrolls behind other CSS elements, or any site that has large textarea input blocks that can scroll independently from the page they’re on.

    You wanted this thing to be application-like. So that’s what you get. Otherwise the UI elements you expect to be firmly fixed in place (like toolbars and such) would scroll with the text and you’d have to scroll to the top or bottom of long sections of text to access them.

    It’s really not bad. Browse to this site from your iPhone and enter a long comment here in this text box. Enter enough lines that it doesn’t fit in this box. Dismiss the keyboard and try to scroll just this box with one finger. When you do you’ll scroll the whole screen. Try two fingers. When you do that you’ll scroll just this box.

    In iPocketBible the text occupies a much larger area than this box, so it’s easier to get both fingers in the right spot to make it work.

    If you enter a lot of garbage here, just don’t press “Submit Comment”. :-) Thanks!

    Craig

  33. Follow up for those interested in two-finger scrolling. Here’s an article about it:

    http://www.iphonehints.com/hint/safari/2007/07/17/two-finger-scrolling-text-boxes

    It’s a Mac laptop thing. Those of us who use PCs just move the mouse cursor into the text area and scroll. Mac laptop users apparently have to do something different to scroll text boxes than Web pages. It involves two fingers. I don’t know if there are other gestures involving other limbs and appendages, as I’m not a Mac guy.

    However I’m sure it’s all quite intuitive, cuz hey, it’s a Mac.

    Craig

  34. Robert Newman says:

    I must say that I was somewhat upset by your first comments on this blog regarding the iPhone. The tenor of the comments, seemed TO ME to intimate that since you could not figure out how you could make money from the iPhone, you decided to dis it. I have used Laridian software on my Sony Clie and other Palm units, and found it to be very usable. I came here first to look a web app for my iPhone. Instead of finding something, all I found was negative comments. I personally believe that God intended for His Word to be free; however, I am not adverse to someone being rewarded for some well written software, or web application. (I have developed websites, and I know how much work is involved.) I do not see why you could not make a web application, and set up a password system and charge a one-time or monthly fee for setup. I pay for Webshots and for eMusic, a monthly fee. Because of your initial comments, I went elsewhere and found an excellent site with a complete bible tools interface, with notes. I have looked, and due to the quality of the app, I would gladly donate, but can not find any way to do so. I hope that you will reconsider the iPhone, but remember I can’t recall anywhere in the bible where God says: “Go thee and make a profit from distributing My Word”. May God bless all who read His Word.

    Robert Newman

  35. Robert,

    Let me start right out by saying you’ve completely misunderstood my comments regarding the iPhone. You assumed our concern about the iPhone’s inability to install third-party apps was because we wouldn’t be able to make money by selling software for the iPhone. If you re-read my posts on this topic you’ll find that wasn’t even mentioned.

    The issue was not whether we’d be able to sell products for the iPhone but rather whether we’d be able to put a product on the iPhone at all. Remember at the time these articles were written, going back to January, nobody had seen an iPhone and all we had were vague indications that they may not support installing any apps. If you can’t install an app, you can’t have a Bible. That was my point.

    Toward the end of the speculation period, just before the phone was released, we got the news that the iPhone WOULD support third-party apps — using Web 2.0 technology. That got people excited — mostly people who didn’t understand what Web 2.0 is. My article on that topic was to try to educate people that all Apple was saying by saying “Web 2.0″ was that the iPhone would have a Web browser.

    You’re absolutely right about your observation that we could make a subscription-based Web solution that would run on the iPhone. If you paid attention to what I said in this article to which you posted this comment, you’d see that we are, in fact, developing a product for the iPhone. You just had to follow the links. So I don’t take your comments as a rebuke, as you intended, but rather observe that “great minds think alike”.

    I’m glad to hear you found a Web-based Bible program you like that works on the iPhone. Fortunately you haven’t spent anything so hopefully you’ll keep an eye on http://www.iPocketBible.com and will give it a try when we get it up there.

    It’s pretty cool. I’m going to try to post some screen shots this weekend.

    Craig

    P.S. I’ve chosen not to debate your point about the necessity of the Bible being free and not profiting from distribution of it. Suffice to say there’s a solid biblical foundation for what we do and the idea that those who minister the Word should be expected to do so at their own expense is specifically condemned in the New Testament by the apostle Paul as nonsense. If you’d like to discuss that point further send me an email and I’ll send you some scripture to study.

©2014 Laridian