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Designing Bible+ 6 for iOS: Typography and Layout

Posted by on 10/23/2015 in:

Bible study can be a complex thing. There are a lot of things to keep track of: highlighting words and verses, writing notes, leaving bookmarks, saving passages, creating categories, tagging things, reading commentaries, studying maps and charts, looking up Greek and Hebrew words, and more things I can’t even think of right now. Honestly, I’ve tired myself out just listing all of those things.

When you do all these things with paper books, it can be hard to keep track of where you put your highlighters and on which page of which book that helpful definition of agape was written. Bible software is supposed to make all of this easier for you, but sometimes it falls short of that. Sometimes apps can be hard to use: it can be hard to figure out how to view a note you’ve written or it can be tricky to get your settings just right. A lot of this has to do with how the app is designed, which is why our app’s design is something we’re always thinking about.

We want Bible+ to be an app that provides easy access to all the tools and resources you need in studying the Bible. We want the app to give you these things and then keep out of your way. Really, you should be able to focus so closely on God’s Word that you start to forget the app even exists.

Our team here at Olive Tree has worked really hard to make sure that this release is our easiest to use yet. Change can sometimes take a little getting used to, but we really believe that each and every change we’ve made makes the app better at getting out of your way and helping you connect with God’s Word. We wanted to write a couple of posts to help you understand a little better the thinking behind our new design.

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The Typography and Fonts

The text of your Bibles and books is by far what you’ll spend the most time looking at. Providing a good experience here is critical. We need to have sharp fonts, proper spacing, and work to ensure a natural flow. Believe it or not, optimizing how the text is displayed on the screen (this is called typography) can make a big difference in how fast you can read and how much you’ll understand and remember.

The last time we picked the font for our main window, digital screens looked a lot different. Apple released the first retina screen five years ago, and it become the standard for all of their iOS devices a few months ago. Retina screens are sharper and much better at rendering the subtle details in fonts that can guide your eye from one letter to the next. Our old font, Georgia, was designed specifically with older, less sharp and precise displays in mind. We decided to ditch Georgia, which was a great font for its purpose, and move to something that really takes advantage of new displays: Source Sans Pro.

Another big factor for reading is spacing between lines and around the edges of text blocks. When this is done well, it becomes easier to read; you can focus on what the words are saying and not on how you’re reading them. With the Bible Study App, we’re always trying to walk a balance between adding enough space to provide an optimum reading experience, but also fitting as much content as we reasonably can on the screen so that you can perform in-depth study without having to scroll or swipe too much. After some tweaking, research, testing, more tweaking, and more testing. We’re confident that the typography in the app is the best it has ever been.

As a note, we do recognize that casual reading and studying are two different things and we want to respect this in how we format the text. We’re working on even more updates for the app that will build on and improve the foundation we started in this release.

More to Come

The typography and fonts are important, but you’ve probably noticed there are a few other changes as well. Most of those are related to the verse chooser and the menu, which we’ll talk about in the next post.

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Apologetics is for Everyone

Posted by on 10/14/2015 in:

Want to know more about apologetics? Check out this video with Dr. Bill Mounce as he explains what apologetics can and cannot do.

Why are you a Christian? Christianity is outdated and needs to get with the times. What proof do you have to substantiate your beliefs? Isn’t it just blind faith in a fictional God? The creation story in Genesis can’t be true because we’ve proven that evolution is true. Don’t all religions eventually get you to the same place? Just do what works for you.

Does any of that sound familiar? It should because it’s a picture of the times we live in. Christianity and the Bible are under attack from all angles, and if you believe in the God of the Bible, you’re viewed as someone who is antiquated and needs to get with it or shut up. While it is sometimes easier to keep our faith to ourselves, Christianity is a perfectly rational and defensible worldview. We do not hold to a blind faith. There is plenty of evidence and logic to back up our claims. As Christians, we ought to be ready to defend our faith against its opponents. The Apostle Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:15 that we should always be prepared to give a defense to anyone who asks. This wasn’t a command he gave only to church leaders; it was for everyone, including you!

Many people think they cannot share their faith or have religious conversations because they don’t have all the answers. But no one has all the answers. Not having answers doesn’t mean we cannot work with what we do have. It also doesn’t mean we cannot continue to learn as we go along. One of the great things about living in the age we do is that we have a wealth of information at our disposal, ready to be called upon at a moment’s notice. Not only that, but many of the arguments we face today aren’t new. Great Christian thinkers have already tackled these tough issues, and we can glean from their writings instead of trying to figure it out on our own. For most people, it only takes having a few apologetic resources in their library to equip them to defend and share their faith.

While Olive Tree may be known as the “Bible App,” we can also help you defend your faith with the resources we offer. If you want an apologetic resource and Bible study notes all in a single resource you can look at resources like the Apologetics Study Bible or the Evidence Bible. We also have books dedicated to the subject, such as Alister McGrath’s Mere Apologetics, R.C. Sproul’s Defending Your Faith, and John Feinberg’s Can You Believe It’s True?, just to name a few. With the Olive Tree Bible App, you can keep both your Bible study and apologetic library with you at all times, giving you all you need to live up to Peter’s call. Both Jesus and Paul were apologists, and we should be too!

Equip yourself today with the tools you need to be ready to defend your faith in our Apologetics Sale.

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5 Ways Bible+ 6.0 Android Titles are Different

Posted by on 06/05/2015 in: , , ,

We are so excited about the newest Bible+ 6.0 Android update. We have completely rewritten our core software that displays the text you see on screen. This means you will need to re-download all your titles. Why? Besides having a cleaner text layout we want to bring you brand new tools for studying the Bible. Many of these were not possible with our older technology, but are now a reality!  Because of the new text display layout, we’ve re-designed the text layout of several favorite Bible study resources and added several NEW Bible study resources.

How are books different in the Bible+ 6.0 Android update? Here’s just 5 ways that we’ve improved and enhanced resources in the Bible+ 6.0 Android release.

1. Beautiful New Layouts

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.

All charts are now actual text, and as with other verse references in the App, verse references now become hyperlinks that you can tap and see the verse without having to leave your place in the Bible text.  Here’s an example of this from the NIV Study Bible Notes:

Text wraps around images, charts, and tables eliminating all the blank space around them.  Another example from the NIV Study Bible Notes:

You’ll notice that as you scroll through many sections Study Bibles and Illustrated titles you will find articles and sidebars, some of which are floating or using some nice formatting to make them stand out. These new layouts are FREE when you download your new titles with the Bible+ 6.0 Update for Android. There’s no additional cost or purchase necessary for you to get these new text layouts.

2. NEW! Interlinear Bibles

With this new technology, we can now offer Interlinear Bibles.  What’s an interlinear Bible you ask?  An interlinear Bible typically the Hebrew or Greek text of the Old or New Testament with a literal English translation between the lines of the original-language text.  This is an extremely helpful Bible Study tool, especially for those wanting to dig deeper into original Bible language studies.

Here’s what the ESV Greek-English Interlinear looks like:

Our Greek-English Interlinears are available in ESV, NKJV and KJV translations.

3. NEW! Harmony of the Gospels

A Gospel Harmony seeks to take the Four Gospels and put them in a Chronological order so that you can compare how the Gospel writers address events in Jesus’ life.  Without our new technology update, the layout needed to make this title was virtually impossible.

Here’s what our Harmony of the Gospel in the KJV translation looks like:

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Our Harmony of the Gospel titles are available in KJV, ESV, NIV, NKJV, NASB, and Byzantine Greek translations.

4. NEW! Newly Released Bible Study Titles

Under the hood of the Bible+ 6.0 for Android and Bible+ 5.9 for iOS, we began the switch from Palm Database Files (PDBs) to utilize modern Electronic Publication File technology. Not only does this change in file format makes it possible to display text in unique and exciting ways, it also allows us to convert new Bible Study Titles very quickly. What would have taken us months now only takes us weeks. Here’s just a few of the new & best Bible Study Titles we’ve released in the past year:

And several more. Many of these are 50% off this week to celebrate the launch of Bible+ 6.0 Update for Android.

5. Over 1,200 New eBooks

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Not only did the transition from PDB to EPUB take the conversion time down for your favorite Bible Study titles, it drastically reduced the conversion time for literally thousands of your favorite Christian eBooks. What would have taken us weeks can now be converted in a matter of minutes. In fact, since March of this year we’ve released hundreds of eBooks. Over 1,200 titles are now available and our catalog will only continue to grow in the coming months.

What about Windows Desktop & Mac?

Our developers are hard at work to bring the same update to our other platforms that we have done with our iOS, Android and Windows Store Apps. We hope to see this technology on Windows Desktop PC, and Mac very soon!

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

Posted by on 04/24/2015 in: ,

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.

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5 questions to ask when choosing a Bible reading plan

Posted by on 01/09/2015 in: ,

readingplanGuest Blogger: Rachel Wojnarowski

You intended for 2015 to be the year- the year that you settled into a daily Bible reading routine. Yet January 1st came… and the first week went, and you still haven’t started reading the Bible daily.

Guess what? I have wonderful news; it’s not too late to choose a Bible reading plan for 2015!

In fact, it’s never too late to begin a daily quiet time routine with God. The key to establishing a routine is to have an actual plan. Without a plan, we all know it just won’t happen; intentionality is a must. Today I have five questions to ask when choosing a Bible reading plan. These questions will provide guidance for choosing a Bible reading plan that works for you!

1. How much time do I intend to spend reading the Bible daily?
Choosing the amount of time you are going to spend each day reading the Bible doesn’t have to be set in stone, but it’s a great idea to estimate how much time you are going to set aside each day for reading. Knowing how much time you are going to use will enable you to choose a plan that will work for you! Whether it is 10 minutes or 20 minutes, choose an amount of time that is reasonable for you.

2. What is the best time of day for me to read the Bible daily?
While there is much to be said for beginning the day in God’s Word, there are seasons of life when taking 20 minutes in the morning is not the most ideal time for a larger segment of reading. Currently I am doing my daily reading in the morning, but there have been times in the past when I read just one verse in the morning and waited until a better time later in the day to read a full chapter or more. I believe the more consistent you can be with the time you have, the better the results.

3. How many chapters do I want to read in a day?
For the past two years, I’ve read the M’Cheyne Bible reading plan (available in Olive Tree’s Bible Study App) in order to read the Bible through in a year. This plan requires four chapters a day, as most Bible reading plans designed to be completed in a year. For me, this plan took about 20 minutes a day. Every reader will have a different comfortable speed of reading and different amount of time to spend reading each day. Think through these factors as you choose a Bible reading plan. This year I wanted to spend more time reflecting on the passage, so I chose to read one chapter a day. I won’t finish reading the Bible in a day, but that’s ok.

4. Do I plan to use any Bible study methods as I read or simply read and reflect?
Determining your study intentions before you begin the Bible reading plan will help you decide both your time factor and number of chapters per day. Whether you use a highlighting method or a simple Bible study guide each day will determine how much time you need to anticipate beyond the reading time.

5. How long do I plan to use this particular Bible reading plan?
Are you choosing your plan for the entire year or do you want to focus on a smaller increment of time, such as 3 months? It is sometimes difficult to know what you can do for an entire year and a shorter amount of time is a better way to commit. At the end of the 3 months, you can choose a new plan or even repeat the plan you finished for more impact.

What if I want to read through the Bible, but I know it will take longer than a year?

You can still read through the Bible AND do it all on your own. The first time I read through the Bible, I didn’t read 4 chapters a day and I didn’t use a set plan. You can find out what I did right here.

I hope these questions will guide you through the process of choosing a Bible reading plan that fits your current needs and desire.

Learn More about Rachel at RachelWojo.com
Watch a short video to learn more about Bible Reading Plans in The Bible Study App

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Exclusive Giveaway!

Posted by on 03/25/2014 in:

Now thru April 21 we are giving away the ESV Bible with Strong’s tagging for free!

The ESV with Strong’s allows you to instantly access the Hebrew or Greek word behind the English translation with a simple tap. It’s an outstanding resource for deeper word study and for a limited time it’s free to users of The Bible Study App!

Tap the image below to go to our special giveaway page and add the ESV with Strong’s to your account.

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