Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

App Review: Blue Letter Bible

I really, really like the Blue Letter Bible website, I really do, it's one of my favorite study tools out there, it's packed full of information and references and commentaries. So when they came up with the iOS application I downloaded it immediately. Even though I'm trying to "unApple" my technical life I still have the odd Apple product or two laying around so I can compare iOS vs Android (and because my Boss says I have to have one... for now). Just recently the Blue Letter Bible just released an Android application of BLB and I immediately installed it on my phone and tablet (I'm very "Samsung-centric") and tore into the 'new kid on the block' to see what's under the hood and how it stacks up against it's older iOS brother. 

For you non techies iOS = Apple products, like iPhone, iPod, iPad iWatch, iStrain. Android = Android phones (Motorola, Samsung, LG) software is based on the very stable Linux operating system and the phones themselves do not shatter like great-grandma's finest lead crystal if dropped more than three inches. The Blue Letter Bible app is not available for Windows phones, then again much of the known technical universe is not available for the Windows phone.

Both the iOS version and the Android version have similar functions, their layout is a bit different so if you get used to one it will take you a little searching to find that same function in another. However, with just a few exceptions, the core functionality of each application is very similar. Here's my overall view of this application:

The Good Stuff:

Getting into the word of God is not a struggle. I like the YouVersion bible app for many reasons, mostly the reading plans, but as the application keeps getting more and more "user friendly" the application makes it gets harder to get through the huggy feely gobbldy gook and into the bible itself. With the BLB app when you start up the app, you are in the bible, now it's just a matter of getting to the right book, chapter, and verse which is very easy to do.

Super easy parallel bible reading. Personally I like the NASB because it's a very accurate translation of the original manuscripts, however being accurate makes it tough to read. Pastor Paratus likes to read from the NIV, which is much easier to read (especially out loud) Setting up parallel translations so I can follow the sermon in both versions is quick and easy, you just press the bible icon at the top of the screen, chose your primary bible version, then chose your Parallel version and that's it. 

Highlighting is more than highlighting. To highlight a verse you touch it and a list of options comes up, one of those options is to highlight. Pick the color you want to use and now that verse his highlighted. Later you can recall all the verses you highlighted by color. I like this because if you're doing a study and have various verses scattered through the bible, just use the same color to highlight them. When it comes time to recall all those verses you highlighted, just select My Highlights from the menu, select the color you used, and there they all are.

All them goodies! When you tap on a verse you get more than just the option to highlight the verse, you can add notes. But there's so much more - you can bring the verse up in Interlinear bible with Strong's concordance so you can see how the original Greek/Hebrew is translated, you can compare translations, bring up cross references, look up verse contents in dozens of dictionaries, and find help in more commentaries than you can shake a stick at. If C.H. Spurgeon isn't helping your pastor in the pulpit, he will be there in the pews with you!

The Stuff That Needs Work:

There's no option to log in. This is a bummer because if you're highlighting and taking notes on your phone there's no way to transfer those notes and highlights to your tablet (or iPad) or to the BLB website. You can log into the website and do all kinds of things which you can share on other computers but not with the Android and iOS apps.

Sharing a verse on Facebook doesn't work. This is not a deal breaker for me, but if you're going to have that menu option, make it work. 

You NEED a data connection. Many of the bible versions are available on-line only due to copyright restrictions, and all of the commentary is only available when there is a data connection available mostly because you'd fill up your devices storage downloading and storing all that information. If your church doesn't have wifi, this application won't be of any use to you on Sunday morning unless you don't mind burning your data allocation with your cellphone provider. 

Daily Reading doesn't work on the Android version. Sadly, the app designer was injured before he or she could finish this part of the application. Let's pray for his or her quick recovery because this is a really nice option to have and it works well on the iOS version

Android support is nowhere to be found. The Android version is the new kid on the block, however that's not an excuse for the lack of documentation and minimal mention at the http://www.blueletterbible.org website. There's scads of information, advertisements, tutorials, and help files for the iOS version but seriously - almost nothing for Android? I found that the android version exists not from the BLB web site but by searching through Google Play for something else. Come on BLB!

My Wish List:

This app has most everything I could want from a study application, the only thing I could possibly want would be John MacArthurs commentaries added.

Final Rating:

Big thumbs up! Yeah, it's a little buggy here and there but even with the bugs this is a powerful learning tool. It will defiantly be a bit much for someone who just wants to read the bible, but if you want to get into God's word and go Full Berean, this app is for you.

One thing I've noticed is that as I come closer to my meeting with my Lord and Savior, it's getting a bit harder to hold a heavy study bible during Sunday service. Holding a tablet eases the (well deserved) aches in my wrists and hands, but I don't have the fun of using the markers to highlight important verses... they mess up the screen.

1 comment:

  1. HalleluYah! My sentiments exactly. I am extremely grateful for BLB's "FREE" app & website. However, I just spent 30 mins looking for the parallel Bible button on my Chromebook. According to your research, IT DOESN'T EXIST! - ONLY IN THE APP ��. - EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING! Secondly, I pray for the Android dev.'s speedy recovery. However, is there a plan B?