If I keep writing reviews of iPod Touch apps I might have to start another blog! Until then, however, here’s my review of the Olive Tree Bible Reader for iPhone/Touch. A Video review will follow.
One of the things I missed most when I retired my iPaq in July was a decent Bible reader. Sure there were web-apps out there, but I really didn’t want to waste by batter by keeping wifi on all the time – and their speed left a LOT to be desired. Shortly after the App Store opened there were some Bible Apps listed, but none had the features I was looking for, and I had already invested in Olive Tree’s Bibles so I figured I’d wait patiently for their offering. I didn’t have long to wait! Olive Tree Bible Reader (v. 4.002) is a capable reader for my touch, and the Bible looks beautiful on my Touch’s screen. I’ve already used it in worship, and can honestly say that this offering is already a more pleasant experience than using their PocketPC reader. The capabilities of the iPhone/Touch just seem to be better suited for Bible Reading.
Unfortunately, due to some confusion with Apple’s SDK, the current iteration of the Olive Tree Reader for the iPhone/Touch will not allow users to have their own personal libraries. Apparently, Olive Tree wanted to make sure that offering Bible downloads for their app would be acceptable to Apple, and were told that it wasn’t. This set back Olive Tree’s development several weeks, as they had already started implementing library management – this lost development time also led to some frustration once the App Store opened as approved apps like the Mantis Bible Reader were handling library management in a very similar way to Olive Tree’s proposal. Currently, Olive Tree and Apple are working out a solution – which I hope comes soon (I want my full NET Bible, BHS, and NA27 without having to buy them all again). Olive Tree is cautiously optimistic that a solution will be found, but this opening confusion does not bode well for Apple as a “benevolent overlord.”
Olive tree is currently by-passing real library management by offering bundles of Bibles in the iTunes store which can be installed side-by-side. The bundles, however, are completely different applications and cannot share files (due to limitations in the iPhone/Touch). The free Bundle consists of the Free NET Bible, MKJV, ASV, Darby, YLT, Weymouth NT, and several other language translations. The ESV bundle costs $24.99 and has all of the above along with the ESV and KJV. Both applications behave the same way. Because I am waiting for library management, I downloaded the free bundle (I’m also cheap).
As mentioned above, the presentation of the Bibles on the iPhone/Touch screen is simply beautiful. One of the drawbacks of reading the Bible on my old iPaq was that my eyes often felt strained. Not so on my Touch. The means of scrolling the next makes clean use of my Touch’s multi-touch interface. A simple swipe moves the text up and down. The buttons in the book/verse chooser are large enough to be easy to touch accurately – but tend to get a bit overwhelming in longer books and chapters due to the sheer weight of the numbers displayed. Still, Olive Tree has implemented their familiar interface from their other readers well on the iPhone/Touch and scanning the numbers in the verse chooser is still faster than typing in the verse reference manually (which can be accomplished by typing in the search bar at the top of the screen.
In the original release there was no ability to create bookmarks, and the search function was rather limited. In current beta’s, however, support for complex searches and bookmarks have both been added and implemented well. Auto-scrolling, as far as I can tell, has not been implemented yet – but is on the development map for the Reader.
If you are looking for a decent Bible App for your iPhone/Touch, you need look no further than the Olive Tree Reader. It’s already capable, and the features that are already in the pipe will make this a powerful application indeed.