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PocketBible for Windows Store 2.2 – Support for Windows 8.1 and more

Posted on: October 26th, 2013 by Michelle Stramel 6 Comments

An update to PocketBible is now available on the Windows Store. This update provides support for the recently released Windows 8.1.

Enhancements to Version 2.2 include:

  • Windows 8.1 support. Uses the new controls, handles the new Windows 8.1 re-sizing features, and makes use of the efficiency changes in Windows 8.1.
  • Open Books menu now indicates which book is currently displayed by a checkmark
  • Option to turn off the display of verse numbers in Bibles
  • Zoom in using pinch to zoom on the content of a book

Advanced Features enhancements include:

  • View and edit notes directly from the notes pane or in a secondary window
  • Have any type of book read to you (not just Bibles)

Here is what the new note editor looks like (click on picture to view larger):

Download PocketBible for Windows Store for free!

NOTE: Some of the features mentioned above may require the purchase of the Advanced Feature Set for $6.99.

NOTE: There is a known issue in displaying images with Windows 8.1 that has been submitted to Microsoft (slows down app). Images are temporarily turned off in the program, however, there is an option in the program to turn images back on if you’d like.

PocketBible for Android 1.1.0 – Sharing Verses

Posted on: October 24th, 2013 by Jon Grose 18 Comments

PocketBible for Android version 1.1.0 has been released on the Google Play Store. If you downloaded the app from Google Play, you should be automatically updated. If you are using a Kindle Fire (or other non-Google Play device), you can download the latest version by browsing to http://lpb.cc/android while on your device.

There were a number of small changes, but the big features are being able to copy and share selected verses! If you select a verse, or verses, by tapping on them, just press the newly added share and copy buttons added to the contextual action bar at the top of the screen. Copying text will copy the selected text to the clipboard allowing you to paste it in other apps. Share will provide you a list of all the apps on your device that can receive the formatted text, like texting, email, facebook, twitter, etc. If you want to see that in action, you can watch the video below:


PocketBible makes it easier than ever to share God’s word!

To change how the selected text is formatted, go into Settings, then Copy/Share Settings and adjust things like showing verse numbers, including references, including translation names, and making each verse on its own line.

Download it today and share the Bible with someone you know!

PocketBible for Android 1.0.9 – Bookmarking

Posted on: October 4th, 2013 by Michelle Stramel 26 Comments

PocketBible for Android version 1.0.9 has been released on the Google Play Store. If you downloaded the app from Google Play, you should be automatically updated. If you are using a Kindle Fire (or other non-Google Play device), you can download the latest version by browsing to http://lpb.cc/android while on your device.

The major new features in 1.0.9 are the ability to add bookmarks to verses and a new navigation menu. The full list of features includes:

  • Bookmark Bible verses. Organize bookmarks with categories you define. Sync bookmarks with the Laridian cloud.
  • Navigation menu for easy access to downloading books, settings, etc. Additional side panel added for tablets.
  • Double-tap for full screen
  • Improved verses selection
  • Multi-user installation

The new bookmark feature is available from the contextual action bar (where you are already able to highlight). When you tap on a verse, you’ll have the option to highlight or bookmark. Bookmarks can be viewed from the navigation menu or side panel (for tablets). Tapping on the PocketBible icon (upper left) will give you quick change options on the navigation menu.

More features are planned for PocketBible for Android including note-taking, daily reading progress tracking and enhanced searching. Take our survey and let us know which of these planned features are of most interest to you.

New for PocketBible: Too Busy Not To Pray

Posted on: October 4th, 2013 by Michelle Stramel No Comments

Too Busy Not To Pray coverToo Busy Not To Pray (20th Anniversary Edition) is a classic title on prayer by Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. Revised throughout and including a new introduction and new chapter on prayer and compassion for the world, Too Busy Not To Pray calls both young and old to make prayer a priority, and broadens our vision for what our eternal, powerful God does when his people slow down to pray.

Too Busy Not To Pray is not a deep theological treatise on prayer but rather a practical guidebook on the why and how of prayer. It is a reminder, encouragement and inspiration to spend daily time communicating with the God who saved us and loves us. Because this book came out of Bill Hybels attempt to improve his own prayer life, you won’t find yourself judged or condemned if you struggle with regular prayer. Instead you’ll be challenged to look at why you may not be praying regularly and encouraged to take some practical steps to get started. As one reviewer put it: “You cannot read this book without praying more, and praying better. It is thoughtful, clear, compelling and challenging–Bill at his best!”

Too Busy Not To Pray requires PocketBible for iPhone/iPad/iPod touch, PocketBible for Windows Phone, PocketBible for Android, PocketBible for Windows Store, PocketBible for Windows PC or MyBible for Palm OS. The list price is $9.99.

PocketBible and iOS 7

Posted on: September 20th, 2013 by Craig Rairdin 62 Comments

This week brings the release of iOS 7 from Apple. As this new version of the operating system rolls out to more and more devices we’re beginning to hear from you about what’s working and what’s not. I want to take a minute to tell you how to work around the one problem we know about, then tell you what we’re doing to fix that, then tell you what I think about all this. Since that flows from absolutely important to “who cares?”, you can stop reading as soon as your questions are answered.

“Go To Verse” on the iPad

iOS 7 removed a feature of “popover views” (the box that pops up out of the toolbar to show you our “go to verse” buttons) that allowed developers to specify the size of the contents they were putting in the view if that size changes after the initial contents are placed. As a result, after you choose a book, the view gets resized to its default size, and the chapter buttons get cut off.

There are two work-arounds for this:

  • Press the button in the upper left corner to go back to the list of books and choose your book again. This little bit of magic seems to break Apple’s concentration and they quit trying to resize the view.
  • Choose a different go-to method for the time being. To do this, go to the Settings menu, scroll down to Program Settings, and choose a different Bible Verse Selection method. There are two other than the book/chapter/verse buttons that are the default: The Calculator method and the Spinner method. Of the two, the spinner is the easiest to use and is less quirky. Choose the Spinner and work your way out of the Settings menu. Next time you choose Go To, you’ll see the Spinner instead of the buttons.

There are other small cosmetic issues you may or may not notice as you use the program. We don’t know of anything that affects the actual function or usability of the program beyond the one mentioned above.

What We’re Doing About It

While developers have had access to beta versions of the iOS 7 developer’s toolkit for several months, we’ve found in the past that you can waste a lot of time chasing the changing specifications of the new version of the operating system if you start your work too early. For iOS 6, many developers were stunned to discover the apps they developed and uploaded to the App Store using the final beta version (which was approved by Apple for submission to the App Store) did not function correctly on the final released version of iOS 6. They had to scramble to make changes. So with all this in mind, and after reviewing the new features in iOS 7, we decided to wait until we had a version of the developer’s toolkit that was closer to final.

We’re working on version 3.0 of PocketBible, which will be fully iOS 7 compatible. Most of the changes we have to make are user interface related. That is, tweaking colors and behavior of the UI to match the new, flat look of iOS 7. There are several new features in PocketBible 3, but these have been in beta for a few weeks now and are in pretty good shape. In particular:

  • Advanced Feature Set – New Features
    • Journal Notes allow you to take notes that are not associated with any particular Bible verse.
    • Assign names to your highlight colors.
  • Features in the Standard (Free) Version
    • Autosync feature allows you to synchronize your user data (notes, highlights, bookmarks, etc.) with the Laridian cloud automatically in the background while you continue to work. Manual sync is still available if you prefer.
    • Synchronization speed is improved.
    • Added underline styles (underline, dotted, and dashed) to the list of highlight choices.
    • Display one verse per paragraph (start each verse on a new line).
    • Support iOS swipe gestures to delete notes, highlights, bookmarks, etc. from lists of those items.
    • When deleting a bookmark category, the bookmarks themselves are deleted (instead of being moved to “uncategorized”
    • Added “Email Passage” and “Text Passage” to the list of “Passage Actions”.
    • Various speed improvements and minor bug fixes.

This version of PocketBible will be uploaded to the App Store soon. We’re still working through all the issues brought about by the release of iOS 7. In the meantime, the only thing you really need to do is change your go-to-verse method.

So What Do We Think About All This

One of the frustrations with our industry as a whole and Apple in particular is the pace at which it changes. Most of the changes in iOS 7 that affect us are cosmetic. Apple has decided that it’s their user interface, not their limited availability and high price, that negatively impacts their sales. So they spent a lot of time turning everything flat, gray, and translucent. Many of those changes are applied to programs automatically, but not all of them are implemented well.

For example, in the intrest of transparency, the system status bar (the signal strength indicator and clock across the top) is now transparent. That’s great, but our app is used to a solid status bar and would never bother to put anything behind it. Now, since that bar is transparent, the OS tells us it isn’t there and tricks us into writing under it. So when the status bar is laid over top, it just is unreadable since it’s either black or white text on top of a white page of black text. So we had to take the time to create a little colored rectangle to put under the status bar so you can see it.

While changing the look of table views (those lists of contacts, appointments, settings, etc. that you see all over iOS), they decided the headings between groups of choices should ALWAYS BE UPPER CASE. So it looks like THE PHONE IS YELLING AT YOU all the time. Furthermore, they limited the text to six lines without documenting the limit nor truncating the text. So it’s possible for text to flow over the list items. This would be fine if they provided a way to say DON’T YELL AT ME but they didn’t. So we had to implement custom text views to put in those locations.

This is all characteristic of a philosophy that has little sense of history or the importance of supporting existing apps, existing versions of the OS, or existing hardware. For example, PocketBible 3 will be compatible with iOS 5 devices, but you won’t find much, if any, mention of iOS 5 from Apple. I know people running iOS 4 and 5 who just never bother to plug their device into their PC/Mac to download updates. It’s working for them, so why bother? I’m typing this blog article on a PC running Windows XP. It works great. Why upgrade? Apple doesn’t understand this idea. They assume everyone rushes out and buys a new phone every year or two, or they at least upgrade the operating system every time an update is available.

As a result of this blindness to the past, it’s not unusual to discover that something is broken in the OS and it’s just never going to get fixed. For example, we depend on a particular method being called (viewWillDisappear:) when one of our “dialog boxes” is dismissed. I found out yesterday that iOS 7 breaks that rule (it’s been around since version 2) in certain cases. As a result, instead of one programmer at Apple fixing one bug, it creates millions of bugs in hundreds of thousands of apps, and each of those hundreds of thousands of programmers has to take an hour or two to figure out how to work around it. Apple doesn’t care because programmers who start programming new apps tomorrow will never know any differenc and will always code as if viewWillDisappear: won’t always be called, and they are the only ones who matter.

It’s as if Apple has incubation pods where they harvest new programmers. They pull them out of their drawer and they start writing code with no sense of what came before. A year later, after working 24×7 with no sleep, they are recycled to feed the next batch, which are harvested just in time to release the next unnecessary update to the operating system.

Anyway…

We’re still in the process of making changes, but this is just a couple little things we’ve run into in the process of moving PocketBible to iOS 7. We think you’ll like PocketBible 3 when we’re done, but it’s going to take a couple more weeks to get there. In the meantime, change your go-to-verse settings and 2.0.6 will continue to work fine.

New for PocketBible: Hard Sayings of the Bible

Posted on: September 19th, 2013 by Michelle Stramel No Comments

Hard Sayings of the Bible CoverThis new PocketBible title from InterVarsity Press (IVP) is a unique commentary that focuses on the difficult passages of Scripture. Hard Sayings of the Bible was originally published in five volumes by IVP:

  • The Hard Sayings of Jesus by F.F. Bruce
  • Hard Sayings of the Old Testament by Walter C. Kaiser
  • More Hard Sayings of the Old Testament by Walter C. Kaiser
  • Hard Sayings of Paul by by Manfred T. Brauch
  • More Hard Sayings of the New Testament by Peter H. Davids

The PocketBible edition of Hard Sayings of the Bible combines these best-selling volumes into one volume along with new material from Walter Kaiser and Peter Davids. Over one hundred new verses have been added to the list of texts explained, as well as a dozen introductory articles addressing common questions that recur throughout the Bible.

The original “hard saying” of the Bible was John 6:53. This passage is explained as well as over 500 more. What makes a verse or passage a “hard saying?” “What F. F. Bruce wrote in his introduction to The Hard Sayings of Jesus can likely be said of nearly all the difficult texts in this collection: they may be hard for two different reasons. First are those that, because of differences in culture and time, are hard to understand without having their social and historical backgrounds explained. Second are those that are all too easily understood but that challenge the ways we think and act…”

Hard Sayings of the Bible requires PocketBible for iPhone/iPad/iPod touch, PocketBible for Windows Phone, PocketBible for Android, PocketBible for Windows Store, PocketBible for Windows PC or MyBible for Palm OS. The list price is $19.99.

The Trail of Blood: Following the Christians Down Through the Centuries

Posted on: September 15th, 2013 by Craig Rairdin No Comments

Back when I was at Parsons Technology in the late 80′s and 90′s I was attending a Baptist church. Somewhere along the way I picked up a copy of this little booklet — probably at a Jack Hyles or Curtis Hudson revival meeting. The Trail of Blood is a history of the church starting with the church in Jerusalem through the present day (well, through the early 1930′s, which is when it was written). What’s interesting about it is that it lays out ten or twelve distinctive doctrines that the author identifies as characteristic of Bible-believing Christianity and follows those doctrines — not the dominant churches of the day.

Whether you attend a Baptist church, consider yourself basically “baptistic” in doctrine, or are just interested in church history, this is an interesting book. I happened to think of it the other day, contacted the copyright owner, and discovered that it has recently passed into the public domain. So I quickly tagged it for PocketBible.

The Trail of Blood suggests that it was the Catholic church that split from the “true church” and points out that Protestant churches didn’t so much rise out of traditional Christian doctrine but rather Catholic doctrine, and that Catholics and Protestants together persecuted those who held to the doctrines that the author believes Paul and the early church would be most comfortable with.

Admittedly, this is a controversial title. (That’s why we didn’t make it free — so it wouldn’t show up automatically in everyone’s download account.) Obviously by suggesting that Catholics and Protestants are branches of the same, doctrinally flawed stock, he will offend most of Christendom. And contemporary scholars with access to more recent archaeological discoveries and historical documents would challenge his characterizations of some early groups of Christians. But the concept is an interesting one to consider and certainly worth dropping a dollar on to learn more. The historical chart it includes, showing the “trail of blood” through the centuries, is worth at least that much.

If it bothers you, skip it. But I think many of you would find it fascinating. In my case, while I no longer fellowship with a Baptist church, it was very formative of my understanding of the transmission of truth through the centuries.

Follow us on Google+

Posted on: September 11th, 2013 by Jon Grose 4 Comments

I started a Google+ page all about the latest PocketBible for Android news and development. About every week or so I post what is being worked on now and what is up next.

You might ask: “You already have a blog. Why make another blog on Google, and only for Android stuff?” Two reasons:

1) We don’t have a huge Google+ presence right now, but a lot of our customers use it already. If you are like me, you might not even have a Facebook or Twitter account, so there are not social media outlets for you to connect with Laridian other than coming to this blog.

2) By having a Google+ page, we are able to promote PocketBible in Google Play in a much more organic way. Believe it or not, during a talk at the latest Google I/O conference, it was revealed that the search algorithm Google Play uses actually looks at your +1s, ratings, and even your friend’s +1s and ratings in Google+ to give you customized search results. In other words, the more we promote PocketBible on Google+ the more it will come up in search results in the Google Play.

So check us out, get the latest news, +1, share, link and tell all your friends about PocketBible for Android on Google+

Two New Books for PocketBible

Posted on: September 2nd, 2013 by Michelle Stramel No Comments

IVP Pocket Dictionary of Reformed TraditionIVP Pocket Dictionary of the Reformed Tradition is the latest addition to our collection of Pocket Reference titles from InterVarsity Press (IVP). With 300 entries, this dictionary is a concise introduction to one of the great Christian traditions. The title can be purchased separately for $4.99 or as part of the 15 volume Pocket Reference Series bundle.

John Wesley’s Notes on the Whole Bible are also now available for use with PocketBible. These verse-by-verse comments on the Old and New Testament give you a glimpse into this great theologian and preacher’s thoughts on the Bible text — all in the convenience of PocketBible. This title is available for $24.99.

Serendipitous Programming

Posted on: July 27th, 2013 by Craig Rairdin 6 Comments

Today I’ve been working on a new feature for PocketBible for iOS and one thing led to another, and, well, I ended up implementing a feature I didn’t know I was working on, and didn’t realize how much of it was already sitting there, waiting to be exposed to the user.

So the new feature I thought I was working on is the ability to “rename” your highlight colors. That is, you’ll be able to assign a topic to each color. Then when you highlight a verse, instead of seeing a list containing “Khaki”, “Cornflower Blue” and “Hot Pink”, you’ll see “Salvation”, “God’s Love” and “Prophecy”. We’ve been wanting to implement this for a long time. While we were upgrading our cloud synchronization protocol over the last few months, I added the ability to sync highlight color names with the server and we took advantage of that in PocketBible for Windows Phone and Windows Store. The plan has always been to roll that into other platforms as we have the opportunity.

While looking through the code that shows you your list of highlight colors (which I’ll have to modify to show you your user-defined names for those colors) I stumbled into a bit of code that Jeff wrote years ago but then “commented out”. (If we have code that we’d like to retain for reference purposes but don’t want to actually have the computer execute, we turn the code into a “comment” so it will be ignored by the compiler but still be there if we want to see it.)

Those of you who have been with us for a while know that Jeff was my programming partner for 27 years before his death from cancer in May 2012. It’s been a bittersweet year as I’ve had to deal with his passing while surrounded and immersed every day in code that he wrote. I keep running into little things that remind me of him, make me want to give him a call to talk about a problem, or give me a chuckle. So it’s always interesting when I run into a piece of code like this.

What this particular piece of code did was add three additional highlighting styles to the list of colors you can highlight with. These are “underline”, “strikeout”, and “underline+strikeout”. Those look like this, this, and this, respectively.

Now, why would you ever want to strike out a verse? That’s a good question and takes me back fifteen years to the days of the Palm operating system when cameras were cameras, phones were phones, and “portable digital assistants” were all the rage. In those days, color displays were luxuries that cost money, size, weight, and battery life. So most of those devices had monochromatic screens.

On color screens, we could highlight a verse with a background color. But what could we do on these black and white screens? Since our text was coded in HTML, and since HTML offered simple styles like bold, italics, underline, and strikeout, we decided to use those. We ended up not using bold and italics because they could cause the text to re-wrap when they were applied, and in those days of wimpy processors, it just took too long and was disturbing to see. That left us with underline and strikeout, so that’s what we used.

As time has gone on, we’ve gotten to where we don’t even include these underline and strikeout highlighting styles in our programs. They’re not in PocketBible for iOS, and we weren’t planning on implementing them in PocketBible for Android. Unfortunately, some of you who were around back then and have sync’ed your highlights from your Palm PDA to PocketBible for Windows to our server and to PocketBible for iPhone expect to see those underlines. So we have to at least be able to display them if they exist, but we don’t let you create them (because we don’t want to proliferate a bad idea).

What I discovered today was Jeff’s original code for being able to create underline, strikeout, and underline+strikeout highlights in PocketBible for iOS. His comment said he had taken them out because the display engine (my code) didn’t support them. Sometime between then and now I implemented those highlight styles but we just never went back into Jeff’s code and turned those choices on.

On a whim, I enabled those lines of code and what do you know — they worked! That put me in the awkward position of trying to decide whether or not to leave them in. I never liked the idea of striking verses from the Bible, and even once you get over that, it makes the text hard to read.

About then it was time for dinner and I set the laptop aside to meet my wife and get something to eat. On the way there it occurred to me that we now have some better styling options that we had back in 1998. New versions of HTML with CSS support dotted and dashed underlines.

When I got home I spent about 30 minutes and implemented the styles you see here. These new styles replace the old styles rather than adding to them. So where you had strikeouts, you’ll have dotted underlines. And where you had strikeout+underline, you’ll have dashed underlines. I think this is a nice way of making your legacy data from your Palm days more usable and it gives you three more highlighting styles to use in PocketBible for iOS. (If you’re having trouble making out the dots and dashes, click on the screen shot to see the original size image.)

One of the cool things about this is that the underlying data storage and cloud synchronization already supports it. We’re not changing the data we save, but rather the interpretation of the data. So nothing changes in any of the other platforms nor on the server.

What I think is special about this — even though it’s not a life-changing feature — is that Jeff left it behind and it only took a little extra work to make it useful. And I like that all the infrastructure both for storing the new highlight styles and displaying them was already there.

Tomorrow I’ll get back to work on naming your highlight colors. But this was a nice little one or two hour detour to give us an unexpected new feature in PocketBible.

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