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Android Bible Applications - Bloggit's Journal

About Android Bible Applications

Previous Entry Android Bible Applications Apr. 16th, 2010 @ 06:08 pm Next Entry
On the Nokia N95, I tried several Bible applications before finding one that I liked. The challenge is that I'm very goal-oriented with the Bible; I don't tend to sit and read it or even read it nightly, but I do refer to it and use it in class sometimes.

My first try with Android Bibles turned up a disaster and a near-good-enough one, but after a few weeks I decided to try another... which was very different and still not quite right. So I decided to be more methodical about it. I downloaded all the free Bibles on the Marketplace, plus have an additional one reviewed I will explain below.

My metrics were:

  • Works under Airplane mode
    Shouldn't need the time/delay/battery to reload off the web constantly, plus it would be nice to use in an airplane.
  • No advertisements
    I realize ads help make it free, but some are woefully out-of-place considering the context. And you shouldn't be distracted by them.
  • Easy Navigation
    I want to easily move to a specific verse. Often the point of the Bible is to get the context of something.
  • Auto-Resume
    It should reload from where I was. Just because I closed it or the phone rebooted doesn't mean I was done.
  • Quick Search
    I did a search for "The poor in spirit" (The Beatitudes - Matthew 5. 1-12) to see how quickly and easily I could find and navigate to topics.
  • Concordance-like reference
    This may be a poor name for this, but my NIV Concordance Bible from 20 years ago cross-references everything. It makes finding context easy. For this, I determined that cross-referencing parables would be a good test; The Barren Fig Tree - Viewing in Matthew 21:18 should refer also to Mark 11:12 and 11:20. and vice-versa. And relevancies, so John 6:9 (five barley loaves feed the crowd) should point to 2 Kings 4:42 (20 barley loaves).
  • Data Storage
    How much? Where? Can I choose between storing it to the phone or the SD Card? (None allow that.)
  • Highlight the Lord's Word
    Most printed Bible's have the Lord's Word in red.
  • System-font or configurable
    Let me use font settings I find legible!
For testing, each was installed and started, and then the phone put in Airplane mode and those tests run. Listed in random order:

NameScoreNotes
Wolfapps.deGoodNo find capability, No highlighted Lord's Word, takes a long time to load fully, but good basic Bible.
xzs Bible KJVFailFonts and layout make this very hard to use. Ad-supported.
"Holy Bible" by Vitaly DomnikovFailSome good features, but not usable for reading a Book.
AcroBible LiteExcellentNearly perfect. Navigation is a bit strange.
Amazing Droid BibleFailLots of graphics, forced big fonts, big advertisements and tie-ins to sex programs make this a non-starter.
WithBibleExcellentTakes a lot of storage space, but very good program.
AcroBible 3ExcellentPreview-release. The only Bible to have every feature, even though the cross-referencing could use enhancement.

"Holy Bible" Bible by WolfApps.de

Airplane ModeOptional - by default, it uses a data connection. But a menu option exists for "Save bible on phone." This takes a very long time.
NavigationGood - Chapter and Book buttons at the bottom of the screen.
ConfigurationOptions are Language and Zoom
PerformancePoor. There is a several second lag to loading a book/chapter. (This is probably due to data connection.)
BookmarksGood. Highlight text to bookmark or copy. Can name, title and describe bookmarks.
Quick FindNone
ReferencesNone
Ease of ReadingMedium...
  • An entire chapter is displayed, with verse numbers super-scripted.
  • Can highlight verses with nav keys.
  • No obvious way to go to the next Chapter or Book except through the buttons that pull up the lists though.
Lord's Word highlightedNo
Auto-ResumeYes
Advertisements
Storage336KB
This app is responsive once you get the data loaded, but it lags at that. Reading a chapter is easy enough, but there's no find capability. The home page link leads to the Jehovah's Witnesses Watchtower site.

Bible KJV from http://xzs.appspot.com

Airplane ModePass
NavigationGood - Has Next/Previous buttons that skip pages, but pages are in verse counts (i.e. 10 verses per page) rather than by what fits on-screen. The count is configurable, but you must first scroll for the entire page (if it is filled) and then hit the "Next" button. By default, for example, with 1Corinthians 9:26-10:3 on-screen (more scrollable), hitting the "Next" button goes to 1Corinthians 10:6-19:10, skipping 10:4-10:5.
ConfigurationAutostart, Verses per Page (which is really rather annoying), font size and hide navigation buttons.
PerformanceGood - it's fast.
BookmarksYes.
Quick FindIt does have a search, but it's not fully implemented:
  • Has a "Range" field for what to search, but it doesn't work. (Searching the whole bible is decently quick though.)
  • Finds and correctly excerpts results, but does not allow navigating to them.
ReferencesNone
Ease of ReadingMedium...
  • Displays the configured number of verses per page, whether scrolling is required or not.
  • Each verse is it's own paragraph, preceded by chapter:verse numbers and surrounded by horizontal rule lines
  • Must use a different control for going between "pages"
  • But can move between Chapters easily this way also.
Lord's Word highlightedNo
Auto-ResumeYes
AdvertisementsYes, and some seem out of place.
Storage1.6MB
The horizontal lines when reading and the strange navigation approach of having to both scroll and change pages make this one a non-starter. And the ads don't help.

"Holy Bible" by Vitaly Domnikov

Airplane ModeYes
NavigationPoor. Select the book from a list. Select a chapter. Let it load. Read it in five lines at a time (in landscape mode on the BackFlip) and then back to the menu to get to the next chapter.
ConfigurationNone.
PerformanceA bit slow
BookmarksYes.
Quick FindYes, but clicking on the found verse puts you in the verse rating screen; you can't see the full verse and I couldn't figure out how to get back to the Book or Chapter view of that verse.
ReferencesNone
Ease of ReadingLow.
  • Not configurable; insists on a papyrus-like background.
  • Each verse not only is a separate paragraph, with a horizontal rule, but heavily margin'd for the verse number.
  • And each verse looses another line to a five-star rating icon.
  • Clicking on a verse (e.g. to scroll) pops up a rating/nav/bookmark menu... that doesn't show the entire verse.
  • The whole screen always has a large "Holy Bible" graphic and then the Book name and Chapter number above the verses, taking ~40% of the BackFlip screen in landscape mode.
Lord's Word highlightedNo
Auto-ResumeNo
AdvertisementsYes, and they are very intrusive.
Installed size7.75MB, seems to grow over time.
This is a very annoying program with some good features. It just makes reading the bible unnecessarily difficult, and while it supports the search, that Verse rating screen eliminates any value of the program. When in Landscape mode on the BackFlip, less than two verses fit on-screen due to the annoying advertisements, the Icon, the title bar and the Book Name/Chapter Number, plus the margin for verses.

AcroBible Lite V2.0 by AcroDesign Technologies

Airplane ModeYes
NavigationOkay, but a bit weird. The whole Chapter is one long paragraph. To get to the next chapter, you must use the Menu and select "Next" or do a very long gesture on your screen. It can't be done from the icons at the bottom of the screen, nor from the keyboard in a single gesture, and the on-screen gesture is finicky. The on-screen gesture also does not work with the touchpad in the back of the BackFlip.
ConfigurationFont face and size.
PerformanceFast.
BookmarksYes.
Quick FindExcellent - can set testament and whether the search is for a phrase or for all words. Results are fast. Click on the result to go to that Book/Chapter/Verse.
ReferencesNone
Ease of ReadingThe entire chapter is one long paragraph. On-screen text is easy to scroll and read, but moving to the next chapter is unnecessarily challenging.
Lord's Word highlightedYes
Auto-ResumeYes... if you exit using "Menu"-"More"-"Exit". If you just "back" out, no.
AdvertisementsNo
Storage1.65MB
AcroRead opens with an easy-to-use menu. The Book and Chapter are in a banner, and a few icons in the bottom footer. Text is in a standard font, with verse numbers in contrasting blue. The Lord's words are in red, but there don't seem to be any paragraph seperators.

The really strange thing is the distinction between the footer-icons - for "Home" (exit), Search, View History/Bookmarks, and Set Bookmark, versus the Menu for Next and Previous (Chapters), Footnotes, History and Exit (program.) The Next and Previous really should also appear on the footer and possibly be assigned hotkeys.

Help (and About) are only available from the main menu, prior to reading the bible... from the Menu button (i.e. not mentioned on-screen.) Help requires a data connection.


MyBible (AKA "Bible") by "Amazing Droid"

Airplane ModeYes.
NavigationIndex menu option, but it's pretty clunky to use.
Configuration
PerformanceDecent
BookmarksYes.
Quick FindTechnically, but terrible! It actually presented a form in Portrait when the BackFlip was in Landscape mode! And searching crashed the application. I could not get the desired verse, or any results, to be found.
ReferencesNone
Ease of ReadingLow. Colors and fonts are annoying, navigation is too tough.
Lord's Word highlightedNo
Auto-ResumeYes
AdvertisementsYes
Storage Space9.51MB
Very annoying - no menu support, lots of graphics, hard to read italic-script font, yellow background, scrolling advertisements. And if you're looking for a good Holy Book, trying to get it from a developer who also produces Fortune Teller and Sex Truth applications may be the wrong path.

WithBible 1.3.0 by whitebear

Airplane ModeYes
NavigationVery quick; The version (e.g. "King James", Book and Chapter have on-screen buttons.
ConfigurationNot much. Just starting screen.
PerformanceGood
BookmarksYes.
Quick FindYes. Tap on result to navigate there.
ReferencesNone
Ease of ReadingExcellent. Can scroll through the chapter quickly. Next chapter with on-screen button. Verse number is a small number to the far left, one verse per paragraph.
Lord's Word highlightedNo
Auto-ResumeYes
AdvertisementsNo
Storage6.4MB
This is pretty good, with a few interface quirks. It's easy to read, though the formatting lacks the traditional (in English versions) paragraphs. Navigation is easy but takes a bit of on-screen space. There are no menues in the reading mode, and no ability to change anything about the display really.
And now for something extra...
I wrote to Acro asking about a few quirks in their Bible and got to see a preview of AcroBible 3.0. The first preview did not run on the Motorola BackFlip; it was compiled for Android 1.6, while the BackFlip runs Android 1.5. But they promptly changed this.

AcroBible is the paid version of AcroLite. But it also has many more features.

AcroBible 3

Airplane ModeYes
NavigationVery flexible. Acro added a "honeycomb" approach to the previous form, making navigation into books very quick. Reading chapters and switching is even easier, though it still supports vertical but not chapter (horizontal) scrolling with the BackTrack.
ConfigurationNavigation, whether to highlight the Lord's Word, Paragraph mode (enables either verse-per or paragraph-per formatting), notes, etc. Also font face and size.
PerformanceFast.
BookmarksYes.
Quick FindExcellent - can set testament and whether the search is for a phrase or for all words. Results are fast. Click on the result to go to that Book/Chapter/Verse.
ReferencesIt has footnotes. Even when they refer to another verse (e.g. Mark 1:3 referring to 3 Issiah 40:3), there's no hyperlinking. But it's the best of the Android Bibles this way so far.
Ease of ReadingExcellent; can configure almost everything, including whether text is displayed in paragraphs or as one verse per line. (This is translation-dependent, of course.)
Lord's Word highlightedYes, configurable.
Auto-ResumeYes... if you exit using "Menu"-"More"-"Exit". If you just "back" out, no.
AdvertisementsNo
Storage2.2MB
AcroBible 3.0 (paid version) supports a lot of cool features I also wasn't looking for, such as a "History" of where you've been, an internal "notebook", reading plans and even translation comparisons (you can have several on the device.) According to Scott at Acro, the difference is: The free version does not include Reading plans, the Notebook, Margin notes, Downloads, Tags, or Highlighting. It does support copy to clipboard.. But regardless of those features, 3.0 is a great Android Bible.

Conclusion

Both WithBible and AcroBible Lite come reasonably close to meeting everything I wanted. There doesn't seem to be a good cross-referencing Bible for Android yet. But AcroBible 3 looks to be my top pick; the only thing that would improve it would be the addition of hot-linked concordance references.
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