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Adam, Eve, and the app

20 March 2015

app guide


ABOUT 30 years ago, I picked up a book, Too Busy Not To Pray. Its title summed up the difficulties I had in ensuring quality prayer-time while juggling a busy diary and workload.

I cannot tell you whether it is any good, because I've not had time to read it. Perhaps the fact that it remains sitting on my bookshelf, unread, is the spur to remind me always to make time to pray, despite often being on the move.

Being on the move can also make reading the Bible difficult. You can always carry a Bible with you; but it is an extra thing to pack, and you are then stuck with the one version.

But there is now a wide range of apps that allow you to take not only a Bible, but a whole library of different versions with you - as well as concordances, reading notes, study guides, and commentaries.

The one I use most often is Olive Tree's the Bible Study App. You can use it to track your reading, make notes, and download study tools.

You can also, of course, just use it to read the Bible. Moving around the Bible is easy with just a few clicks: an index lays out the book titles in canonical or alphabetical order. You click the book, then the chapter, then the verse you want to start with, and it takes you straight there.

You can then scroll forward or back, or go to the index to select a different passage. Olive Tree also allows you to add categorised notes.

Your account is synched over different devices; so what you start reading on your mobile is available when you next pick up your tablet; and the notes you have written on your tablet are available on your PC. It is easy to see why it is so popular.

The app is free, and so are some Bible versions, including the King James, English Standard Version, American Standard Version, the Bible in basic English, Darby's New Translation, and even the 1917 JPS translation of the Old Testament.

Other versions can be purchased with prices ranging from $4.99 for the Modern King James Version to $99.99 for the ESV Greek-English Interlinear New Testament. Most modern Bible versions are about $9.

Versions are available for iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows.

Last year, Olive Tree was taken over by HarperCollins, which already owned www.biblegateway.com. This developed as a website which moved into apps.

The key difference is that biblegateway.com aims to make the Bible "freely available"; this means that only some versions can be downloaded for offline reading. Other, more commercial versions, such as the Message, need an active internet connection to display the content as it downloads one chapter at a time. Versions are available for iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire.

Be warned: Bible-read apps may make reading the Bible on the go simple; but be prepared for looks of disdain from people who may see you piously making notes on your smartphone and assume that you are playing Candy Crush during the sermon.



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