Olive Tree brings heaven to earth on the Apple iPad

The large display of the iPad has the potential to greatly enhance apps found on the iPhone and the new beta version of Olive Tree BibleReader does just that. Bible reading and study on the iPad was a major reason I bought the iPad and Olive Tree shows why this will be compelling for me.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

A week ago I wrote about two Bible applications for the iPad and these two clients focused on the experience with a wireless data connection. However, in church it isn't always advised to have wireless on since it may mess with their equipment signals and sometimes you never get a good signal in church. Also, I prefer to always have my material with me so I can read and study without worrying about the connection. I have a couple of favorite iPhone Bible programs (Laridian PocketBible, Mantis Bible Study, and Olive Tree BibleReader) that I am waiting to come to the iPad so I jumped all over the chance to evaluate a beta version of Olive Tree BibleReader for the iPad. As you can see in my image gallery and video below the application is quite good, even in this beta stage, and may be one of the (if not THE) best Bible reading and study applications on the iPad.

Image Gallery:Here is a look at 36 screenshots of Olive Tree BibleReader on the Apple iPad.
Image Gallery: BibleReader in portrait mode
Image Gallery: BibleReader in landscape

I go through a number of mobile devices running different operating systems and a Bible software client that is available across several platforms is Olive Tree BibleReader. I enjoy using this client on my smartphones and for the most part it does work well, but these small screens do present challenges. Thus, I was quite excited by the prospects of Bible study on a big screen device like the iPad and Olive Tree has confirmed that this device will be a fantastic Bible reading and study device for me. While I understand that BibleReader has been submitted to Apple for inclusion in the App Store, I am testing out a beta version so be aware what you see in the App Store soon may be slightly different. The beta has performed very well with a couple of initial bugs that were quickly addressed by the Olive Tree developers. I now plan to buy more references to use with BibleReader on my iPad.

Navigating the application

After first launching BibleReader you will see that the time and battery status indicator of your iPad still appears in the top corners. In the center of the top you will find the name of the translation and your location in the reference material. Below this small status bar you will find a larger toolbar with the following icons, moving from left to right:

  • Back and forward arrows
  • Quill pen and ink bottle: Giving you access to bookmarks, history, notes, and highlights
  • Plus (+): Ability to add a bookmark, copy the verse, add a note, and highlight a verse
  • Calendar: Access to daily reading plans and devotions
  • Library books: Access to your library and the Olive Tree store
  • Navigation selector: Three tabs to go to the book, chapter, and verse you desire
  • Search box
  • Gear: Access to font selector, text format selector, and full Settings menu

If you have used Olive Tree BibleReader on the iPhone then you know how many settings there are in the application. There are a large number of settings (most showed in my BibleReader image gallery. They include settings for the following:

  • Font settings
  • Color settings
  • Hyperlink settings
  • Scrolling settings
  • Olive Tree account
  • Evernote account
  • Split window settings
  • Other settings (verse chooser text color and animation, verses starting a new line, and Strong's numbers toggle)

I like the way that the text in the Bible appears in two column form as it gives me a physical Bible look and feel. This works well on the iPad with such a large display too. By default, you can turn the page by swiping right to left or left to right. Scrolling up and down with your finger does nothing by default, but you can switch this in the scrolling settings screen.

Verse numbers appear by default as hyperlinks and tapping on them presents you with a pop-up with options to add a bookmark, add a note, copy the verse, or highlight the verse. Some Bible translations also have hyperlinked letters so tapping on them pops up a list of references that you can jump too, pop out into a main window or split window (upper right icon), or close the pop up (upper left icon).

You can split the screen and view two different documents at the same time. In landscape mode, tapping down on the lower right corner brings up the auto hidden split icon. Tapping once splits the display vertically in half. You will then see left and right arrows so you can slide one way or the other and change the size of the split. In portrait orientation tapping the bottom left corner splits the screen horizontally with those same up and down arrows to change the split size. You can control whether or not the windows stay in sync or not (on by default) in the scrolling settings.

Experiences with Olive Tree BibleReader for iPad

I was quite impressed with the performance of the beta version where page scrolls were flawless and fast, tapping on hyperlinks worked every single time, and copying verses was quick and easy. The only bug I found was when split screens were being used the program would sometimes quit when switching between portrait or landscape. It didn't happen that often and was honestly the only problem I have found with the beta so far.

One feature I never really used before on my iPhone that I am finding extremely useful and that will see me taking my iPad to church is the ability to sync notes with Evernote. I have been using Evernote to take most of my sermon notes so I can search and use them later, but I have had issues with Evernote on some phones not correctly uploading my notes. With BibleReader I can create the note and then sync it up. If there is an Evernote server issue, at least I will have my notes locally until the Evernote server is back up and running to they can sync properly.

I look forward to seeing the official release candidate and continued development of Olive Tree BibleReader and other Bible applications on the iPad.

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