Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Gadget Goodies 2

Last time, we only got to two Bible apps, both multi-platform.  There are more worth considering.  There’s one that’s cross platform, then we’ll talk about some others that are available.  I should probably mention that I do not and have not owned any Apple products.  So, anything that has a version for those, as well, is being reviewed here using a Blackberry, Android, Windows, or Linux version.

One of my favorite mobile Bible apps is YouVersion.  Not because it has tons of resources, but because it’s focused on doing a few things and doing them well.  First and foremost is allowing us to have our favorite Bible version available on just about any mobile device you can think of.  There are versions for iOS, Android, pre-BB10 Blackberry devices, Symbian, WP7/8, Win8, java for some other devices, mobile web, and, if you’re on a computer, there’s a full web version.

You might be saying to yourself that covering that many bases, the rest must be very limited.  Not so.  I can only talk about the English versions, but if you can’t find a version you’re familiar and comfortable with, you’re probably not in your Bible very much, yet.  They even include the Amplified version, for those of us who know what a great tool that is.  On top of having all that online, some of the versions are downloadable to your device.  So, if you’re somewhere where there’s poor phone signal and no usable Wi-Fi, you can still have an electronic Bible handy.

The app wants you to log in.  There’s good reason for that.  It keeps track of a number of things for you.  Let’s say that there are a couple of verses that stood out for you on a subject that you want to check out later.  Bookmark them and you can retrieve your bookmarks on any device, later.  Did you write a note on a verse? Same thing. 

YouVersion has a number of excellent Bible reading plans, some long, some very short.  By being logged in, the app will keep track of where you are in the plan and take you to the latest reading automatically.  If you get behind in keeping up with the plan, you can reset it to where you left off.  And, like all the other YouVersion features, you aren’t limited to one device or one location.

There’s one other feature that I haven’t tried, but it’s a gem.  Over time, the authors have connected with various churches and pastors.  Some of those now upload their sermon outlines  (with verses) to YouVersion so that their congregation can access them via their devices and follow along during the service.  I believe those are accessible to others, as well.

All in all, YouVersion is a killer app that ought to be in any techie believer’s set of tools.

I’ve been getting back to rediscovering linux.  In the process, I discovered another tool that’s cross-platform.  However, it’s not the software that’s multi-device, it’s the resources.  The Cross Wire Bible Society has amassed a huge number of free resources, including Bibles, commentaries, dictionaries, devotionals, etc.  They’ve made them available to whatever programmer wants to use them.  Consequently, there’s software for Linux, Windows, Mac, most mobile platforms, and (for anyone not covered) a web version. 

I discovered them through two linux Bible programs, BibleTime and Xiphos.  I lean toward Xiphos because it runs on a variety of Unix-like platforms, along with Windows (2000 and newer) and has a UI that gives access to all the tools in a way that works well for me.  One of the things I like is that it includes a built in editor that pops up in its own window, so you can fill the screen with resources in one box, notes in the other.

The Android app that uses Cross Wire’s resources is And Bible, available in the Google Play store.  I’ve yet to find a phone app that’s really good at letting me switch between Bible and notes during church service.  But And Bible has its own niche, I think.  First of all, it seems to use resources from more than just Cross Wire.  And the layout is very nice to utilize screen space for Bible reading.  What I really like is the ability to switch to other resources (other Bible versions, commentaries, etc.).  For my way of doing things, it’s ideal for Bible reading and meditation, allowing me to easily check other translations and resources to expand my meditation.  Text size is adjustable and there’s a night mode that reverses the coloring to white text on black, if you prefer that in some situations.

You can find links to all of these and other Bible software using Cross Wire’s site at: http://bit.ly/VqueMr.  It’s well worth the time.

That’s it for this week.  We’ll be back next week with more.  There’s still a lot more Bible software to talk about, but there are other apps and hardware goodies to explore, as well.  What’s your favorite electronic tool to make life much better?

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