Techy

Designing Bible+ 6.0 for Android

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The most important thing we do at Olive Tree is give people access to Scripture.

We want to make it easy for you to read, study, understand, and share Scripture. We believe that a great way to do that is through technology. It gives you the ability to always carry things like multiple translations, study notes, maps, commentaries, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and more (phew)! You’d need a truck to carry around all the books that you can keep in your pocket with Olive Tree.

sak210Computers and apps can be hard to use, though. More features and tools inherently make apps (and other things) more complicated. A butter knife is easy enough to figure out, but a 50+ function multi-tool has a steeper learning curve. What do I do if I just want to open a box?

As we add features and tools to The Bible Study App, we want to make sure that the app is helping you to read and study the Bible, not hindering you. We want to make sure that the features are there when you need them, but also ensure that they don’t get in the way when you don’t need them. This is why design is a very important part of what we do at Olive Tree.

We’re always working to improve the design of our apps to provide an easy-to-use and engaging experience. You can expect to see updates in the future with more design changes to make it easier for you to study the Bible on all our platforms. Let’s take a look at some of the work we’ve done in Bible+ version 6.0 for Android.

A More Engaging Interface

The first thing you’ll notice is that the interface is a bit more colorful. This was done to bring the app up-to-date with Google’s material design initiative, to make the app feel more like a true Olive Tree app, and to provide a more positive and less gray experience.

Screenshot_2015-05-19-15-33-49

Something else you’ll notice is that if you double tap the screen, the toolbar will appear or disappear. We found that users had a hard time with the toolbar appearing and disappearing when they didn’t mean it to, which is why we made this change. Once you toggle the toolbar off, you’ll find that the whole screen is dedicated to showing text; the app gets completely out of your way so that you can read God’s Word without distractions.

One other change we made was to eliminate the use of the hardware-menu button found only on older Android devices. We’ve now moved the menu button into the interface to follow Android standards and to make the app easier to use for users whose phones don’t have a menu button. This change should also make it quicker and easier to make changes to settings when needed.

A Better Reading Experience

Something we’ve started working hard on at Olive Tree is the reading experience. We’ve dedicated some special attention to something called typography, basically the layout of text on the screen. We want you to be able to read Scripture and other books easily, without experiencing eye-strain, fatigue, or “bumps” in the layout that slow you down when reading.Screenshot_2015-05-21-14-45-55

To that end, we’ve replaced the default font with one that will be more readable on devices of all shapes, sizes, and display-types. We’ve also changed how text is laid out on the screen so that there is a more consistent rhythm, which makes for a seamless reading experience.

The fonts we’re using now also allow us to better support bold and italics (especially in Greek), which is important since bold and italics are often used to denote specific things in our resources. For example, the King James Bible uses italics to denote words that weren’t explicitly in the original languages but were added by the translators for clarity.

We’ve also been able to better bring over the formatting elements like tables, headers, and charts from Study Bibles and other resources. This makes the resources look a lot more like their print counterparts and thus provides a richer, more engaging reading experience.

Faster Performance

Often, when an app updates to make big changes like these, the app gets slower. Thankfully, that’s not the case with Bible+. The changes we’ve made have actually increased performance, especially on newer devices. You should find that you can scroll much faster than you ever could, and you’ll notice that the app feels all around snappier.

This is especially useful when doing your devotions in the morning, because it gives you more time reading and less time waiting to get to a passage. It’s also useful when trying to keep up in church while listening to a sermon, or in a small group studying a passage.

Still the Same Olive Tree

We’ve made a lot of changes to make the app better, but if you’ve used the app in the past, you should still feel right at home. We’re trying our best to bring improvements to the app while keeping the familiar functionality and overall experience that you expect from Olive Tree.

A lot of our employees have been using and enjoying these updates for a while, so we’re really excited to release it for everyone to enjoy. You can get the update by going to the updates section of the Google Play Store, or by tapping here on your device.

Important Notice Regarding Nook, Blackberry, Symbian, Palm and Windows Classic Mobile

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pileofphonesTechnology has come a long way in the last 20 years. I can remember how excited I was when I got my first Palm Pilot that had a 32 MB SD card and two AA batteries that were not rechargeable. The anxiety of having to remember to sync before I lost power was immeasurable!

As technology changes, we have to make changes. We’re living in a world of rapid growth in personal computing and personal devices like we’ve never seen before. With those changes, it is becoming increasingly difficult to support the many devices and platforms from the past, present, and the future.

In order to best serve our customers on current and future devices, we had to make the tough decision to end service for certain devices. As of June 1, 2015, we will pull down the apps for the following devices and no longer support the download of PDB titles for the following platforms:

Nook (Original Nook Color) Click here for more specific information on this specific device.

Blackberry

Symbian 60-5

Palm

Windows Classic Mobile (Pocket PC)

What does this mean for me?

If you are on one of these platforms, please download your apps, titles and books files to your data cards and storage devices and keep them in a safe place. After June 1, 2015, you won’t be able to download those titles to your device again.

We will no longer fix text bugs found in these resources on these platforms or offer support or trouble-shooting problems for apps or resources on these devices.

In 2014, we introduced our 5.9 update to our Bible Study App software. Under the hood, we began the switch from Palm Database Files (PDBs) to utilize modern Electronic Publication File technology. This change in file format makes it possible to display text in unique and exciting ways that we were never able to before. It also allows us to offer more titles in the Olive Tree Store on OliveTree.com. In just the past year, we’ve introduced Greek Interlinears, Gospel Harmonies, in-line text display, in-line graphic display, and literally hundreds of new eBooks (have you checked our new release category lately?).

As difficult as this decision was to make, it will allow us to focus on currently supported platforms and to plan for the future. Got questions? Read here for more in depth information.

Sneak Peek into iOS 5.9 Release

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The Olive Tree Bible Study App developers are hard at work on our upcoming iOS release 5.9 (aka “Flying Eagle” as it has come to be called around here). You may have noticed a little teaser in our latest iPhone & iPad release that said “This update paves the way for a future App update…”

One of the great things about this upcoming release is how The Bible Study App will be better able to layout text in ways that we could not before.  We wanted to show you a few examples of this using the NLT (New Living Translation) Study Bible. (Screenshots taken from an iPad 2.  Click for a larger view.)

Compare Romans 1:1

Current iOS App 5.5.4                                               Future iOS App 5.9

IMG_1019     IMG_1015

You’ll notice that as you scroll through that section (and most other sections of the NLT Study Bible), you will find articles and sidebars, some of which are floating or using some nice formatting to make them stand out.

Compare Genesis 1:1

Current iOS App 5.5.4                                               Future iOS App 5.9

IMG_1020     IMG_1017

The tables and articles are much laid out in a much more flowing format with the content.  This is just one of the many advantages to this app update.  We’ll be highlighting more sneak peaks into the upcoming iOS App release in the next few weeks.

We don’t have an official release date yet, so stay tuned by subscribing to our blog or sign up for our newsletter.

The NLT Study Bible is discounted this weekend. Go here to get it!

 

 

What’s in the 100 Million Synced Items?

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If you haven’t heard, our sync server recently crossed the 100 Million mark! 

We’ve had a lot of people ask What’s in that 100 Million Synced number?  Well, I’m glad you asked.

Out of the over 100 million synced items, they break out like this:

100millionsyncdata

What’s really interesting is the breakdown of Annotations (highlights, notes, book ribbons, and bookmarks)

100millionsyncannotations

100 million is a HUGE number and we are so thankful for our Olive Tree community.

As a token of our thanks, we’ve expanded our 100 Million Sync celebration to include 50% Off Popular Commentaries like NICOT, NICNT, Pillar, IVP, and 25% Off or more on over 700 products in our store.  These offers are exclusive to OliveTree.com.  Go HERE to see these exclusive deals.

Using the NA28 Apparatus as a Part of Bible Study

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NA28inabiblestudy

By Olive Tree Staff: Matthew Jonas

I teach a weekly Bible study, and recently we were reading through the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).  This has always been one of my favorite passages in the Scriptures and I was especially excited to get to the section on prayer and specifically to discuss the Lord’s Prayer.  I began by reading over the text of the passage itself.  I generally prepare my notes working from the Greek and Hebrew, but I then read from a number of different English translations in the study itself.  For this particular passage, I was reading from the ESV.  As soon as I had finished reading, someone pointed out that there was a line “missing” from the ESV at the end of the Lord’s Prayer.  She was using the NKJV, which adds the line “for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen” at the end of verse 13.  This question led to a discussion about why that line is in some translations but not others.

Since I started working for Olive Tree, I’ve transitioned to using almost entirely electronic texts of the Bible.  I had my notes and my Bibles there on my tablet, so I was able to quickly look up this addition in the NA28 critical apparatus.

The first thing that I noticed was a T-shaped symbol at the end of verse 13 in the main text.  If you consult section three in the introduction (“THE CRITICAL APPARATUS”), it is explained that this symbol means that one or more words is inserted by the manuscripts listed.  If you are unfamiliar with the apparatus, I would recommend that you simply memorize the list of symbols used.  I believe that there are only eight of them, and they indicate what is going on.  For example, a T-shaped symbol is used to indicate an addition, an O-shaped symbol is used to indicate an omission, an S-shaped symbol with a dot in it is used to indicate a transposition, and so on.  It should be kept in mind as well that “additions” and “omissions” are relative to the main text of the NA28.  An addition is material that the editors of the NA28 chose not to include in the main text, but that some manuscripts contain.  An omission is material that the editors of the NA28 included, but that some manuscripts do not contain.

Clicking on the symbol in the text will open a popup.  If you wish to open this in the split window, tap on the “tear out” icon in the top corner.  The first addition listed is simply the word αμην, which is found only in a few manuscripts.  As far as the abbreviations for manuscripts go, a Fraktur letter P followed by a superscript number is used to indicate papyri, uppercase Latin and Greek letters (and the Hebrew Alef) are used to indicate the different uncial manuscripts, and numbers are used for the miniscules.  There are also additional special abbreviations for medieval cursive manuscripts, lectionaries, the different versions (e.g. the Vulgate, the Peshitta, etc.), and citations in the Church Fathers.  These abbreviations are explained in the introduction, and more complete information about each of the manuscripts is given in Appendix I in the end matter.  The star next to 288 indicates an original reading that was subsequently corrected.   “Vg” stands for Vulgate and the abbreviation “cl” indicates that this reading is found specific in the Clementine Vulgate.  The take away here is that there is not much manuscript evidence for adding just the word αμην to the end verse 13. (more…)

Sync Server Down for Maintenance

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The Olive Tree Bible Study app Sync server has gone down for maintenance.  This means that you will get an “unknown error” when attempting to sync The Bible Study App.

We hope to have the sync server back up and running today.  We will post on our Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages when we are back up and running.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

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