Designing Bible+ 6 for iOS: Menus and Navigation


Our goal in designing Bible+ 6 for iOS was to provide you with an experience that delights you, makes studying easier, and stays out of the way so you can focus on God’s Word. Last time, we talked a bit about how we structured text layout so that you can read faster, understand easier, and remember better. In this post, we want to talk about how you move around in the app and access all of the various features.

The Menu

iphone-menu-blogSmartphones and tablets are rapidly changing. Screens are getting bigger and nicer. While it used to make sense to separate “My Stuff” and “Advanced Settings” into two completely different menus to save space, we find now that the added space for longer menus (among other factors) has made it a better practice to have one longer menu with headers than to have multiple menus.

One effect this has is that of simplifying the reading interface. When you tap to see the menu bar, you now see fewer icons and buttons to tap on. This means that you don’t have to think as much about what it is you that want to access.

We’ve also discovered that this change—at the same time as making the app feel less complicated—also makes features like highlights and notes easier to find. The briefcase icon worked well when we implemented it, but it wasn’t as discoverable for new users as we wanted.

The new menu serves as a central hub for doing virtually anything in the app. If you tap the menu button, you can do anything from access your highlights to opening a new book. This means that even if you tap the menu button accidentally when meant to open the navigation menu, you can still get to what you’re looking for from the main menu.

All in all, we think that this layout helps users get to what they’re looking for more quickly and without having to think as much or as hard about what they want to do and how to do it.

The Navigation Menu

Another important part of the app is the Navigation Menu (formerly the Verse Chooser). If the app were a car, I suppose the navigation menu might be the steering wheel; you can’t get where you want to go without it. In this update, we’ve done a lot to simplify and clarify the Navigation Menu, but we’ve been careful to maintain the same functionality and basic experience.


The first thing you’ll notice is that there isn’t a dedicated button that says, “Go To” like there was before. To save space, we’ve taken the entire area in which we display your current location and we’ve turned it into a big button. This again simplifies the reading interface and makes the app work a bit more like most other reading apps you’re already used to using.

The second thing you’ll notice is that the layout feels like it has more room to breathe. Removing and reducing the heavy colors and borders makes the menu feel a lot feel a lot less cluttered. We also cleaned things up a bit; while you can still access all the verse chooser’s features, they’re now consolidated into a single menu.

We know that many of our users like the visual grouping of books into the Pentateuch, the wisdom literature, etc. You can still turn this on. Instead of shading the cells, we’ve designed a color scheme for the letters. We feel that this makes the distinction between books even clearer, while not sacrificing the open feel that keeps things from seeming cluttered.


It has been said that you can’t make something better without making it different. While Bible+ 6.0 might look a little different from what you’re used to, we’re convinced that it’s easier and more enjoyable to use. We hope you’ll think so too. Bible+ is always a work in progress; we’re always looking to make it better. Please continue to tell us what you like, as well as what you don’t like. We’re committed to crafting every detail of the app to give you the best experience possible.

Bible+ 6: What Users are Saying


Bible+ 6.0 Splash Screen

Bible+ 6 for iOS has been out for a little more than a week now and the feedback we’ve received has been amazing. We at Olive Tree felt this was our best release to date, and you, our users, have confirmed what we believed. Today we want to share with you some of the positive feedback we’ve received in the App Store.

“My favorite app just got even better with this update”
- Chilldaddy


“Almost every problem I had with the previous version in term of usability and design are ‘fixed’ in this version. Good job!”
- iphone4lah


“This new update is totally awesome. Love it! Love it! Totally love it! Welcome back, Olive Tree, this time MUCH BETTER than before!! :-)”
- JoeJMV


“The new update is fantastic, really easy and intuitive! I’ve been a long time Olive Tree user and it just keeps getting better! This really is the best Bible app for true studying.”
- bmaloy


“The new UI looks so great. This design and updates to this new version were very well thought through and it shows. …Hurray for Dark Mode! …I also like that user feedback is taken into account for future releases – the developers listened to some of my suggestions in changing the names of bookmarks vs book ribbons to be less confusing. ‘Saved Passages’ is much more clear in its purpose and intent; users are now less likely to be confuse these with ‘book ribbons’ …Overall, great job guys keep up the good work!”
- Keifer86442


“Oh man, you guys made my day with this update. ”
- nordical


“This is the best Bible app I’ve found. Trust me, I’ve tried several. With this latest update, the layout functionality is even more user friendly and looks great. I’m very happy that the folks at Olive Tree continue to improve this app. It makes the purchase so worth it. I’m literally giddy over this update!”
- victorialchoo24


“Olive Tree has really raised the bar with this new version. The look and feel with iOS 9 is amazing. The app is optimized without losing speed in search, taking notes, or highlighting… I’ve tried other readers, but always come back to BibleReader.”
- G-Pappy


“My initial experience with v6 has been very positive. I honestly love the new design. The old design felt a bit like a 90s website with all of the beige and gradients, but v6 feels much more modern and slick… On the whole, it’s a solid update. Thank you developers!”
- blindseeker777


“I had dabbled with Olive Tree over the years, never jumping in. Last month I gave it another try and am so glad I did. The v6 update is outstanding. By far the best reading and study tool on the store. It’s like a developers text editor. Invest a little time setting it up, and it becomes an extension of you. Love it.”
- rivalsociety

Leave Your Own Feedback

If you enjoy what we’ve done with the Bible+ 6.0 update please do a couple things for us: 1) rate and/or review the app in the App Store, and 2) share the app with your friends. Those 4 & 5 star ratings help us have greater visibility in the App Store, and word of mouth is the best form of advertising. Thanks for your years of support, it means a lot! We wouldn’t be here without you & we did this update for you!

iOS Bible+ 6 FAQs



Bible+ 6 for iOS has garnered lots of praise since its release last week. But, it hasn’t been without its pain points, which is expected with any big software update. Settings got moved around, functionality was removed and added, and so on. Today we want to address some of the top issues that have been reported by you, our users.

No More History Button?

Yes, the history button is gone. This was an intentional design decision on our part in favor of having a cleaner & more user friendly header. Many of you used the history button as a quick access feature, which is now a multi-step process through the menu. Even though the button is gone, there is still some good news. You can setup a gesture to easily access your history. To set the gesture, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the Menu icon
  2. Select “App Settings”
  3. Select “Gestures/Shortcuts”
  4. Choose the actions you would like to use (if not already used, “2 finger tap” works well for this)

Where’d the Bookshelf Go?

This is another item that went away with our new design update. Why? The bookshelf was based on skeuomorphic design, which was popular a few years ago. When iOS 7 released, Apple replaced skeuomorphic design in favor of simplified design elements. We also removed the bookshelf as a means of simplifying the app’s functionality. If you’re looking for an easy way to use your favorite & most-used books, we recommend using the Favorites section of the library view. You can put your most-used resources here, and use “Manage Favorites” to organize them however you would like. These favorites also sync across devices, so you only need to set them once.

How Do I Change the Split Window Font Size?

In our what’s new blog we highlighted how to quickly change the font size. As a lot of you noticed, this only applies to the main window. Here’s how to change the font size elsewhere in the app:

  1. Tap the Menu icon
  2. Select “App Settings”
  3. Select “Fonts”
  4. Choose the font size for the different sections of the app

What Happened to Evernote Sync?

Evernote Sync never quite worked the way we envisioned it. It worked well for some users, but for others it was nothing but a headache to get working. With Bible+ 6 we made the decision to stop using the old Evernote sync system. In its place, Bible+ 6 now implements the native iOS share functionality. You can use this to export/share a note to Evernote, your social media accounts, email, or any other connected app. Even though the export of notes no longer happens automatically, we find this functionality gives you more control and doesn’t limit you to just using Evernote.

Here are the steps to share a note to Evernote (or any other app):

  1. Create a note by tapping on a verse number or selecting text
  2. After you’ve added content to the note, tap the Settings icon in the upper right corner of the “Edit Note” box
  3. Tap “Share” from the bottom of the list and choose Evernote (or the app you want to share to)

Please note that you must have the Evernote app downloaded on your device for this option to work. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to sync your notes from Evernote back to Bible+.

Where Did My Menu & Icons Go?

Bible+ has a toggle in the app to enable distraction-free reading, which hides the icons and menu. This feature has been in the app for quite a while but it is more noticeable with this update. Fret not, this is not a bug. To re-enable the menu at any time all you have to do is single tap the screen (preferably somewhere without text). If you want to enter distraction-free reading mode again just single tap.

Designing Bible+ 6 for iOS: Typography and Layout


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.


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.

Bible+ 6.0 for iOS is Here!


Click here to find out what’s new in Bible+ 6.0 for iOS.


What’s New in Bible+ 6.0 for iOS


Bible+ 6.0 Splash Screen

You might have heard that we’ve been working on a big update for Bible+ on iOS. The rumors are true and it’s our biggest release to date. With this update we’ve completely redesigned the look and feel of the app so you can study the Bible better. We took a lot of your feedback into consideration and are confident this app is much easier to use and better looking than anything we’ve done before. But, with a new look and feel come changes. Today we want to tell you about some of the more important changes and new features in Bible+ 6.0 for iOS.

My Stuff

Remember that icon in Bible+ 5 that looked like a briefcase? Do you know what it was for? If not, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, a lot of our users didn’t know what it was for either. After listening to your feedback, we finally got the message that we needed to rethink that icon’s functionality. In it’s place we implemented a centralized menu where most of the app’s features now reside. Looking for your notes, highlights or book ribbons? Now all you have to do is tap the “hamburger menu” icon at the top left. The same is true with reading plans, or anything else you’re looking for. Everything is organized according to its function in the app, so you can find what you’re looking for at a glance. This change alone makes Bible+ much easier to use.

Bible + 5.0 vs Bible + 6.0 - My Stuff

Bible+ 5 vs Bible+ 6.0 – My Stuff

Verse Navigation

In changing the look and feel of the app, we thought it was time to give the verse chooser a much needed face lift. Gone are the tan and gray boxes. Welcome a more streamlined design that is easy on the eyes. And, if you want a more colorful verse chooser (see below), you can tap the gear icon & turn on the shading effect. Another change is in how you access the verse chooser. Instead of having a separate “Go To” button cluttering the screen, you now tap on the book title or passage to bring up the verse chooser. Alternatively, you can access it from the main menu, but that makes it a two-step process. The new verse navigation helps Bible+ get out of the way so you can study without distraction.

Old vs. New Verse Chooser

Old vs. New Verse Chooser

Night Reading Mode

We know that a lot of you like to study your Bible or read a devotional before the sun comes up or late at night. That proved difficult in the Bible study app because it felt like the bright screen was blinding you when in a dimly lit room. Even lowering the brightness of the device didn’t do much to help with the problem. Well, we’ve finally done something about that. With Bible+ 6.0 we are introducing a dark theme that is conducive to reading in low light situations. Toggling the feature only requires two taps: 1) tap the menu icon, 2) tap on the dark theme & you’re done.

Night Reading Theme in Bible+ 6.0

Night Reading Theme in Bible+ 6.0

Saved Passages

This is a relatively minor change, but it is another that comes as a direct result of your feedback. Book ribbons and bookmarks, what’s the difference between the two? Honestly, most Olive Tree employees couldn’t clearly articulate the difference either. Therefore we thought it was time to change the terminology to better reflect what each does. Book ribbons remain unchanged, and should be used like you use the book ribbon in your Bible. You use it to mark your place in a book or Bible for future reading. Book ribbons are meant to serve as temporary placeholders.

Bookmarks, on the other hand, are now called “Saved Passages.” Saved passages are better used as long term markers for verses you would like to navigate to again in the future. This change in terminology better reflects how the feature is to meant to be used in the app. You’ll see this change in two places. First, when you tap on a verse to save a passage, the popup menu now says “Save” instead of “Bookmark.” And the main menu says “Saved Passages” instead of “Bookmarks.”

Bible+ 6.0 Popup Menu

Bible+ 6.0 Popup Menu

Saved Passages in the Study Helpers Section of the Menu

Saved Passages in the Study Helpers section of the Menu

Changing Font Size

Changing the font size was another feature that got a minor update. Again, thanks to your feedback and expressing the confusion of not knowing whether to tap the briefcase or the “A with the gear,” we made this change with you in mind. Now all you have to do is tap the new menu icon and then increase or decrease the font size. No more having to remember where the setting is. And, if you need to change more settings, those are now found near the bottom of the menu.

Bible+ 5.0 vs. Bible+ 6.0 - Font Size

Bible+ 5 vs. Bible+ 6.0 – Font Size

Leave Your Feedback

If you enjoy what we’ve done with the Bible+ 6.0 update please do a couple things for us: 1) rate and/or review the app in the App Store, and 2) share the app with your friends. Those 4 & 5 star ratings help us have greater visibility in the App Store, and word of mouth is the best form of advertising. Thanks for your years of support, it means a lot! We wouldn’t be here without you & we did this update for you!

Note: Bible+ 6.0 will only work on iOS 8 or later.

Update (10/28/2015)

Click here to get answers to some of the more frequently asked questions concerning the new app.

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