Sometimes the things we think are obvious to the outside world aren’t.
In our last update, we explained in detail a problem we had encountered in the way that we encode Bibles for use in PocketBible. The TL;DR version is that we found it necessary to update every version of PocketBible, plus update the BookBuilder app, in order to accommodate necessary changes to the way we deliver Bibles.
As you know, PocketBible runs on four platforms: iOS, macOS, Android, and Windows. One of our points of pride is that PocketBible is a native app on each of those platforms. That is, we didn’t use a special tool that might allow us to create one app and run it on all platforms — we created separate apps for each. So when something like this comes up, we have to update PocketBible on all 4 platforms, and in this case, we also had to update our BookBuilder app.
We have a very small team of developers. We don’t have people assigned full time to each platform. So to work on one we pretty much have to stop work on others. That has meant that while we’ve been focusing on Windows, we haven’t been able to do much/anything on other platforms. It also means that if we need to work on iOS, macOS, or Android, we aren’t able to do much on Windows.
We kind of thought you guys all understood that, so we’ve been keeping you updated on our progress on the other platforms with the understanding that we would get back to Windows when these were done. Turns out that wasn’t clear. Hopefully now it is. Here’s where we stand on each of the other platforms with respect to this Bible format update.
BookBuilder and PocketBible for macOS
Because BookBuilder needed to be updated (of course) due to the Bible encoding changes, and because BookBuilder and PocketBible for macOS share so much code, we tackled both of these together. We did all the necessary changes to BookBuilder, then tested the output in PocketBible on the Mac.
While we were in the code, we did some necessary bug fixes and a few enhancements. We released PocketBible 1.4.2 on June 7, 2023 and it’s been pretty stable.
We did not release a new version of BookBuilder to the public because it’s possible we’ll discover problems related to the new format while working on all the PocketBible releases, and we’ll want to go back and make changes.
PocketBible for iOS
Version 4.16.0 went to a small group of beta testers about a month ago. Problems have been minimal and I anticipate we’ll approve it for the App Store soon. It incorporates the new Bible encoding changes and has a small number of improvements and quite a few little bug fixes.
PocketBible for Android
Android has been a challenge for a variety of reasons. Google changed the rules on us and required that we rebuild the app with the latest version of their tools for basically no reason. The app was working fine, but after telling us we had until August to upload a new version to Google Play, they decided to invalidate the app in May. This fell right in the middle of what we were working on for the other platforms. We opted to continue on our original plan of updating the Android app by the end of August. In the meantime, Android users were given instructions to side-load the app from our website and that worked fine.
PocketBible for Android has not been updated since 2018 and the changes required to get it compatible with the latest OS have been challenging. We released a build with minimal new features on August 29th and updates to fix some bugs on September 2 and 7. We anticipate at least one more small release to fix some additional issues; probably two more.
Once we get Android up to speed with Google’s new requirements, we’ll need some time to do the Bible encoding changes. This will involve porting a lot of code from the macOS/iOS apps and making sure it works. The Android app handles Bibles slightly differently from the other apps, so it’s not just a line-for-line translation from one language to the other, but rather it’s a concept-by-concept implementation using methods consistent with the way Android does things.
I’d like to tell you how long I think that’s going to take but I know I’ll just be wrong. Shouldn’t be too long, though.
PocketBible for Windows
Remember PocketBible for Windows? This is an article about PocketBible for Windows.
We’re actually fairly close to having at least the standard features of the Windows app finished once we’re able to get back to it. There are some Advanced Feature Set features that haven’t been touched yet (Autostudy comes to mind).
Moving Forward with the “Native Apps on All Platforms” Plan in 2024
I want to take advantage of the fact that we’ve had to do recent re-releases of PocketBible on every platform and make it a goal to do some kind of small update to PocketBible on each platform every year. It’s easier to keep up with frequent, small changes than to have to absorb a massive number of changes to how to build and release apps when you do it every 4-5 years.
So that’s the status of PocketBible for Windows, told in terms of everything else that’s going on here. Anytime you see a blog article about any of the other platforms, count it as progress on the Windows app. 🙂