How Leveraging Technology To Resolve To Read The Bible This Year Can Help You Stay On Track With Other New Year’s Resolutions

Bible AppsLast year I posted New Year’s Resolution: Read The Bible and it ended up being the most read post of the year for ILikeTek.  To ring in the new year I’ve decided to offer a followup post.  As mentioned in the original post my app of choice was The Every Day Bible App however I ditched it midway through the year.  There was nothing wrong with the app, in fact it delivered daily on what it promised to do but I found myself longing for an actual Bible….in print.  I eventually filled this urge with the purchase of a study bible which came with free access to the study content in the publisher’s accompanying app (ESV Bible App).  Wanting to go deeper into Bible study turned out to be a precautionary tail of be careful what you ask for as I picked one of the most in depth study guides available which in turn took up all of my available daily reading time and eventually led me to falling behind on my reading plan on days I opted to read other things.  Since I’m not one to skip anything available to read in front of me I knew that if I was to get back on track and complete my New Year’s resolution I needed a straight forward approach for days when I just wanted to read the Bible and therefore it must exclude access to study material for those days.  It was around then that I stumbled on to the NeuBible App.
Herein the NeuBible App I found a beautifully polished app whose emphasis is solely on quick access to scripture with further emphasis on font.
I love a good font and it has a crisp selection.  I fell in love with the app’s straightforward approach with a simple swipe right gesture to select a book and swipe left gesture to select a chapter.  Best of all it always remembers precisely where I left off even if it was mid-chapter which came in quite handy as though I wasn’t using the Every Day Bible App anymore I was still following its year long reading plan.  Its plan was nice for its app where following from top to bottom every reading was laid out daily but trying to pick up outside the app was tedious since it jumped around to at least three different passages each day with some leaving off mid-chapter.
My next dilemma was knowing what each day’s reading consisted of.  This usually involved opening the Every Day Bible App to find out what it was and then opening whatever alternative app or print edition I chose to read from that day.  This just felt silly so I decided to improvise.  I would open the Every Day Bible App periodically and log ahead a few days’ readings into a list I created in my favorite to do list app – Wunderlist.  This allowed me to set reminders which I could access from my notification center at any time and check off complete as I read each passage.  It also helped me keep track of readings if I got behind easier than I was able to within the Every Day Bible App which reset each day.  In fact returning to the most popular Bible app the Youversion Bible App for an occasional reading plan didn’t even offer reading plan visibility from its notification center widget like I now could through my Wunderlist… eh list.
Now that I could get daily reminders and pick up my reading from any Bible app or print edition of choice I quickly got back on track and even finished my resolution to read the Bible in a year a few days early!  Besides as most experts will tell you the best way to complete New Year’s resolutions is to form habits.  For me daily checking off a year long goal and remaining mostly on track kept my other New Year’s resolutions fresh in my mind.  While I didn’t complete all of them it’s safe to say I completed more and made more progress on others than any other year in recent memory in large part due to the daily satisfaction of checking off each daily Bible reading in my to do list.  It’s no shock that good things really do come from reading the Bible every day!
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New Year’s Resolution: Read The Bible

1420972105_holy_bible2015 has rang in and you’ve decided this is going to be your year to read the Bible cover to cover so to speak.  I’ve put together a short list of apps to get you started.  There were many worthy Bible Apps to choose from but I’ve narrowed the list down to my three personal favorites.  The good news is you can’t really go wrong with any app that brings you…well the good news right?

The Bible App*

Bible-app-icon-english-64x64The Bible App by YouVersion is the most downloaded Bible app at 166 million downloads and counting.  It’s been my go to Bible app for at least the last 6 years. The Bible App is best known for giving away free unfettered access to virtually any translation or language you might fancy and a robust selection of devotionals to boot.  You’re most likely to find a devotional by your favorite author, pastor, or publisher in its library.  Part of the reason for its success is the fact that you’d be hard pressed to find a single platform it’s not available on.  This past year saw the addition of a social feed to discuss your favorite verses and insights with friends and video content most notably from the Lumo Project and the popular Bible Series that aired on The History Channel.  I personally love that I can easily switch between any Bible translation and find a plethora of devotionals and reading plans on any topic to suit my mood or need.  In fact one thing I’ve struggled with is staying current on a one year reading plan while being teased with so many tempting (pun not intended) choices.  Bonus if you’ve got kids, check out their accompanying free The Bible App For Kids.  It’s chock full of interactive storyboard kids’ games of popular Bible lessons.

Faithlife Study Bible

FSB-100If you’re familiar with Logos Bible Software then you’re already likely aware of their suite of Bible apps.  One of them is the Faithlife Study Bible App and I’ve listed it here because I stumbled on this gem last year and found myself even more distracted from my traditional one year reading plan in The Bible App.  Basically it’s a free study bible complete with maps, pictures, exhaustive study notes, and even videos.  It’s library is so huge it can actually be a bit daunting.  The only caveat is the only free translation is their in-house Lexingham English Bible (LEB) translation unless you’re willing to pay for popular translations like the NIV or NLT which are available for free on the aforementioned Bible App.  Nevertheless it’s a feast of biblical knowledge and even serves up a daily dose of sharable Bible word art each day.  If you’re serious about going deeper in your Bible study this is a must download and is available on most major platforms and the web.  Tip- be sure to create an account for their Logos content store because I was pleasantly surprised at Christmas time with a free $20 to spend on anything which I used to buy the NIV translation which is transferable across their suite of apps and services including the next one in this list.

Every Day Bible

EveryDayBibleAlso from the folks at Faithlife /Logos Bible Software and recently released in December.  You see both The Bible App and the Faithlife Study Bible App are robust at what they do good which can be a bad thing if all you want to do is open the app up and just pick up reading the Bible where you left off distraction free.  Enter the Every Day Bible App with its straightforward top to bottom reading design.  It’s literally a Bible app devoted solely to a one year reading plan.  You can’t select chapters or verses, study notes, maps, social feeds, or even highlight individual verses or phrases.  You simply open the app each day, start at the top, and read to the bottom where you check a box marking that day complete.  It serves up a mix of old and new testaments with some nice Bible Word art mixed in and if you’re faithful with it then 365 days later voila you’ve read the Bible through and start over.  It’s become my choice to read the Bible through this year and thanks to the aforementioned $20 gift I’m able to read it in my preferred translation.  I will still flip to the Bible App for shorter devotionals, topical reading plans, and social feed but the Every Day Bible App will be my workhorse year round solely due to its simple and fast formula.  Note it’s only available on iOS and the web for now.

* It should be noted the Bible App by YouVersion is a ministry of LifeChurch.tv, a multi-site church based in Oklahoma of which I’m a devoted member of.

What’s On Your Home Screen?

iOS 8 Home Screen


It doesn’t matter what operating system you’re on and how you organize your screens there’s always one main go-to screen.  In iOS that’s called the home screen.  Everybody organizes their apps in different ways but one thing remains fairly consistent and that’s the most important or most often accessed apps typically end up on the home screen.  I actually arrange my screens based on themes.  For example I have a full screen devoted just to camera and video editing apps.  Since they are my guiltless pleasure I have nearly enough to fill up an entire screen.  I reserve another screen for entertainment apps such as Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, iTunes, etc.  The theme my home screen has going for it though is quick access to my most used apps.  I’ve decided to share my home screen with a brief description of the apps encompassing it.  Think of it as my top ten list for app recommendations (in this case top 28 list because that’s how many can fill up my iPhone 6 screen including the bottom four located on the dock).

Here’s my list in order from top to bottom and left to right according to the included screen shot (click on any link to download):

1)  Fantastical – I’ve tried several calendar apps and I just keep returning to Fantastical.  I believe it really sets the benchmark for calendar apps.  I prefer agenda (list) views over calendar (monthly) views and an agenda view is front and center in this app.  Rotating your screen horizontally gives you the traditional calendar view so it should appeal to everybody.  It’s always worked fluidly and flawlessly for me and easily bests the stock Apple Calendar App. You’ll notice that speed and reliability are very important to me as you read through the rest of this list.

2)  Photos – I’ve replaced virtually all of the stock Apple apps except for 9, 8 of which show up on my home screen mostly out of necessity.  There are other photo apps but in my experience the stock Photos App gives me the fastest access to my pics and until iOS 8 was the only place you could delete photos.

3)  Litely – As previously mentioned I’ve got another screen that houses all my photo and video editing apps except for this one (and Instagram but it’s also a social network).  With its dozens of preset filters and zippy/simple interface it’s really my secret sauce to serving up endless sunsets that are so easy to come by in my part of the world out to my social feeds. Turns out Litely was written by the same guy who wrote seven of the original Instagram filters.

4)  Google Maps – One word…Awesome!  Does any other mapping and navigation app come remotely close?  It recently saw an update to Google’s Material Design experience and it’s oh so lovely to look at.

5)  Checkmark 2 – Little known and still overdue for an iOS 8 update it’s still the best reminders app in the App Store in my opinion.  It’s best feature is location-based reminders with the ability to postpone said reminders.  For example you can set a reminder to take out the trash 10 minutes after you arrive home because if you’re like me and if your phone dings in the car the second you pull into the driveway then by the time you get in the house and are gang tackled by the kid and dog you’ve done forgot about the reminder 5 minutes later.

6)  Safari – Necessity here because though I love Chrome on any other platform Safari just offers a zippier experience in iOS though that’s changing as Apple is opening up their walled garden more and more.

7)  Settings – Necessity again because I change a system setting at least once a day (usually wallpaper) or am usually looking to connect to a wifi network.

8)  App Store – Because I shop for apps and look for updates daily.  Still a choppy experience but getting better.

9)  Google – Two words…Google Now!  Check it out.  It’s both a little creepy but so so cool when it dazzles you with just the right information at just the right time or place.

10) Weather – This is the lone Apple app that I actually prefer over third-party apps because I think Apple got it right.  I’ve tried a half-dozen weather apps and I recently dumped them in favor of the stock Weather App because it just does one thing and does it well.  It quickly displays all the pertinent weather info upon opening the app and does it blazingly fast.  It’s got a decent flat interface that doesn’t fill your screen with ads like so many other weather apps do.

11) Evernote – This one’s actually just filling a void left behind when my favorite note taking app was shuttered.  I was a big fan of Springpad, a direct competitor to Evernote until it abruptly closed up shop.  When it did it offered a streamlined method to port all of your notebooks directly into Evernote hence it’s arrival on my home screen.  Nothing against Evernote which actually is quite pleasing on the eyes and is certainly light years more robust than the stock Apple Notes App.

12) Rise – Rise is my alarm app.  I was duped into purchasing it with the allure of tapping the screen anywhere to snooze but found out after the fact that you had to leave the screen on all night in order to take advantage of its full feature set.  Leaving the screen on all night albeit dimmed just seems silly so I don’t.  Nevertheless I keep it because it’s stock set of alarm sounds and remaining feature set are better than the stock Apple Clock App.

13) Mail – Another Apple mainstay but only on my home screen until Inbox (see below) accepts my Hotmail account.

14) Wunderlist – Bar none the best list making app and I’ve tried them all!  Super easy to use and uncluttered but can be as feature rich as you want it to be (think sub lists for lists).  Especially love sharing a grocery list with my wife because you can go back through completed items and re-add them to the list again.  Handy for things you need every week like milk and bread.  Completely free to use and ad-free to boot.  It syncs shared lists with ease and allows you to drag to reorder items.  It’s the small things that count and being a lifelong list maker Wunderlist truly lives up to its name.

13) Drafts – One thing Apple’s stock Notes app does well is it allows you to dive right into creating a note fairly quickly.  Drafts one-ups it.  The app defaults to opening right into a brand new note every time you open it.  It’s got a nice selection of fonts and share options so for me it really has replaced the stock Notes App more so than Evernote has.   At $9.99 it’s a bit pricey though.  I’m still on an older version and waiting for a deal to upgrade to the latest but it’s still the fastest app period when needing to tap out a quick note.

14) Misfit – This is the accompanying app to the fitness tracker I use (the Misfit Flash).  The Jawbone Up app gets all the attention for fitness trackers but I find Misfit’s to be more than par for the course.  It’s got a crisp flat design and for an app that I frequently check throughout the day I can’t honestly think of a single hiccup I’ve ever experience.  It’s quite stable and that should always count for something.

15) Google News & Weather – Seems I’m always trying out a different news service.  This is the flavor of the month for me.  It’s claim to fame is being able to Google any term and creating a whole news feed on it.  For example when I was researching the aforementioned Misfit Flash fitness tracker prior to purchase I created a whole news feed that offered up several pre-launch reviews since it was new to the market.  It also tipped me off when it was finally available for purchase since they were being tight-lipped on the exact date.  It also shows a snap shot of local weather on its home screen.

16) Asana – Another list taking app.  This one’s claim to fame is that’s an enterprise app.  I’ve begun to track my projects and daily to-dos in it at work.  Not sold on it yet and really it is meant for team collaboration which I don’t do a lot of because that’s how I roll.

17) Kindle – The king of reading apps.  No other reading app comes close to its feature set yet it will get out of the way when you need it to and let you just read.  I bought into the Amazon reading ecosystem long ago when I preordered their 2nd generation Kindle eReader and have never looked back.  The Kindle App a mainstay on my home screen and each successive version adds clever little things to further enhance reading experience like page numbers, percentage completion, their X-Ray service, and estimated time remaining to read.

18) Pocket – A read it later service.  It literally is formerly known as “Read It Later”.  It’s an app that allows me to read web links that I save to read later in an uncluttered mobile friendly canvas.  It gives the Kindle app a run for the money on number of reading features.  It’s one of the few apps that actually gets the low light reading experience right by offering a dark gray background with off white text rather than the deep black with bright popping white letters most other reading apps do.  It’s so much easier on the eyes in the dark.

19) Paper – Facebook sucks but like the other billion people on the planet like it or not I’m stuck with using it because all my other friends use it.  Paper is one of the rare things they cooked up that actually enhances the experience.  Born out of one of their labs it’s basically a heavily gesture based alternative to the traditional Facebook App sans ads (for now).  It also allows you to subscribe to a stream of curated news feed.  Not fond of their daily selection of news content I’ve turned off those feeds and use it exclusively for viewing and posting to my Facebook feed over the decidedly vanilla and cluttered traditional Facebook App.

20) Twitter – Nothing flattering to say here.  Does its job adequately, no praises per say but no complaints either.

21) Instagram – I must admit to a bit of nostalgia for Instagram.  It did after all spawn my shutterbug app addiction.  It works well and stays fresh enough.  I just never understood it’s love affair with square photos.  Why does it always seem when technology gives us more screen real estate something comes along to put black bars all around it?  Still mad they sold out to Facebook too.  Forever tainted but like Facebook, we’re stuck with it because everybody uses it.  At least it’s been mostly left alone to thrive since selling out and the few ads that I’ve seen begin to populate my feed are usually tasteful.

22) Bible – Did you know this app has been downloaded 161.4 million times and counting?! There are actually better apps for traditional bible study (see Faithlife Study Bible) but the Bible App has the best overall package with a thriving social feed and an ever-growing library of free community supported devotionals many authored by prominent Bible thumpers.


Dock Apps

23) Phone – These next four apps encompass my dock apps that show up on every screen.  The first is the stock phone app and I’m beginning to rethink its place here as I consider how little I use it.  I don’t place a lot of calls and most usually am on the receiving end of calls so I’m not sure I can justify its coveted place anymore in the dock.  I’ve never really pondered searching for a replacement phone app.  Open to suggestions…

24) Inbox – This is Google’s next great thing.  Think Google Now for Gmail.  It’s currently an invite only affair and I’m super glad I snatched an invite.  It replaced my all time favorite app (Mailbox by Dropbox).  Though I believe it still carries a Beta moniker it certainly doesn’t feel like it.  What Inbox does is basically serve you up a feed of emails automatically organized in categories like Promotions or Financial but rather than leaving you guessing at content by what the subject line says it will pull out the pertinent parts and put them front and center.  For example it will offer a link to track a package without having to open the message or serve you up a movie ticket confirmation number right in the subject line.  It is also written with a heavy dose of Google’s new Material Design experience which personally I can’t get enough of.  It takes liberally from many of my favorite features offered up by Mailbox and even gives you the option to add reminders to your message feed which just seems to be a natural place to add reminders after all.  How has nobody else thought of that yet?

25) Songza – If there’s one app on this list I would encourage anyone to download it has to be Songza.  You simply will not find a larger library of curated playlists anywhere.  You can pick from moods to genres to activities.  Google recently purchased and incorporated these playlists into the Google Play Music App but for now seem content to leave this free ad-supported service intact.  The ads aren’t in your face either and mostly consist of a small static banner at the bottom of the screen and you can rest assured that no loud car commercials will interrupt your feed like so many have ruined the Pandora experience for me.  Please download it, you’ll thank me later…tip check out the “Songs From Apple Commercials” playlist.  It’s delish!

26) Messages – And finally the last app in my dock is the stock Messages App because it’s adequate for me especially now with the latest feature set added with iOS 8.  Most of my friends use iMessages so really it’s a no brainer for me.  I’m actually aware of the plethora of better alternatives but truthfully none of my core friends and family use them so…

App Discover | The Bible App To Hit Huge Milestone

The YouVersion Bible App

The YouVersion Bible App

Regardless of religion or lack thereof one thing nobody can deny is the Holy Bible is a historical document translated thousands of times over that has stood the test of time.  5 years ago a network of churches, Bible societies, and individuals teamed up their resources and created a Bible App.  It brings the Bible and hundreds of translations and versions that continue to grow to most anyone in digital form on the web or through app form for free.  It continues to rank high in most apps stores for popularity and in about an hour it is expected to eclipse 100 million downloads.  Quite a milestone, congratulations!  Maybe you can be lucky number 100 million, download it here.