Most of the time, I'm excited about new Accordance updates and features. Not today. A new iOS Update is now available which adds support for Unicode Bibles including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Russian. Completely ignorant of the Asian languages, all I can do with those is appreciate how cool they look. But I did take Russian in college, and I was excited to load it on my iPad and "brush up" on my Russian.
The new feature works great. I can display the Russian Synodal Bible in parallel with an English translation and read them on my iPad. There's just one problem: I'm way beyond being able to "brush up" on my Russian. I can barely remember how to pronounce the words, much less recognize much of the vocabulary. There's nothing like the opportunity to use a language to show you how much you've forgotten.
Because it has bruised my ego, I'm not a big fan of this new update. I do grudgingly recognize, however, that some of you may still be able to read these languages, so perhaps you'll feel differently about this update than I do. If you're in that category, be sure to download it from the app store today.
I'm very pleased to announce that a major update to Accordance for iOS is now available through the App store. Accordance for iOS 1.3 offers a host of new features and minor enhancements that will have a major impact on your mobile workflow.
Highlight: Accordance for iOS now comes with a default set of highlight styles, and allows you to highlight entire verses by tapping and holding on the verse reference. The highlight files from your desktop Accordance can also be synced with your iOS device, so any word-specific highlighting you've done on the Mac can be viewed on your mobile device.
Copy Verses: When you tap and hold on a verse reference, you also get the option to copy that verse to the clipboard. If you're in Reader mode, you can expand the number of verses copied by clicking the left and right arrows that appear.
Never Lose Your Place: Accordance for iOS now remembers the search state, location, and parallel pane for any module opened during a session. So you can now switch between multiple Bibles and books without losing your place.
Preview Pictures: Pictures in tools now appear as thumbnails within the text rather than a generic picture icon.
Use Your User Tools: User tools can now be synced from your Mac installation so you can access and read them on your iOS device. Editing them on iOS is not supported, but if you've placed ten years of sermon transcripts in a user tool, you can now access them on your mobile device.
Go To the Way You Want To: Those who don't dig the wheel interface for jumping to a verse can now choose an optional list interface. Those wanting a grid view will have to wait a little longer.
Interface enhancements: Black is the new brown, popover menus now appear on the iPad, the parallel pane is more subtle and functional, and there are lots of other improvements.
All in all, this update is a huge step forward, and we've only just begun. If you don't have it yet, be sure to get it now.
When we laid out our initial spec for Accordance for iOS, we planned to offer two ways to get your Accordance modules onto your iOS device: direct download and syncing with Accordance on your Mac. When it became apparent that the syncing feature would take longer than we hoped, we decided not to hold up the iOS release just for that one—admittedly important—feature.
While it was certainly the right decision, leaving out the syncing feature meant that modules which were not available for download could not be installed on an iOS device. While a small subset of modules are only available on disk, they included major works such as Word Biblical Commentary, many of the older Zondervan materials, etc. Furthermore, without the ability to sync user notes, there was no easy way to take notes on your iOS device and then transfer those back to your Mac. Thankfully, Accordance 9.3 for Mac and Accordance 1.2 for iOS now add the long-awaited ability to sync between platforms. Accordance 9.3 for Mac was released last week, and Accordance 1.2 for iOS became available through the app store just last night. Both updates are available for free.
To sync modules and notes between your Mac and iOS devices, you need to make Accordance for iOS available to sync by Sync icon in the Library view.
Then in Accordance for Mac, select Sync with Mobile Device from the Accordance menu. A dialog box will appear showing which iOS devices are currently available to sync over a WIFI connection. Select the device you want and click Connect.
You'll then see a listing of all the Accordance modules available to sync.
These currently include Texts, Tools, and User Notes. You can check each category to sync all the modules in that category, or you can open the category and choose specific modules to sync. Once you've selected the modules you want on your iOS device, simply click Sync Now.
That's all there is to it. Now you can load any modules you own onto your iOS device, and transfer any notes you've taken between the two platforms.
Accordance for iOS 1.2 offers a number of other exciting features which I'll detail in upcoming posts. Until then, you can find a list of them here.
Here are a few things I think you'll find worth checking out:
- Dr. J's latest podcast offers a helpful comparison of our two most extensive Holy Land Photograph collections: the Bible Lands PhotoGuide, and the new American Colony and Eric Matson collection from Bibleplaces.com. Not only does he compare the strengths of each of these resources, he gives you a brief sampling of some of the photos they contain.
- In pointing his readers to Dr. J's podcast, Todd Bolen of Bibleplaces.com included a comment from a user who had great things to say about having this collection available within Accordance. Also, Bolen's most recent blog post points to an interesting Jerusalem Quarterly article on the history of the American Colony Photography Department.
- Another blog post mentioning Accordance comes from James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries, who relates how he identified passages of P46 at the Chester Beatty Library using the Accordance app on his iPod.
- This review of the The Sacred Bridge at Biblical Archaeology Review praises the atlas for its thorough and careful scholarship. The reviewer's only criticism is that the font size of the print edition is too small to read comfortably. Of course, this criticism does not apply to the Accordance edition.
- Finally, Adam M. Lowe has been comparing the functionality and costs of various iPad Bible apps, including Accordance.
In a previous post I blogged about my experience using the prototype Accordance iPhone app to read along during the Sunday morning sermon. I expected a fair bit of response to that post, but what I didn't expect was how much apparent angst it would create regarding the iPad. Apparently, because I focused on my use of the app on the iPhone, some people worried that our initial iOS app would not be available for the iPad.
Not to worry. Just because I describe testing the app on my iPhone, that doesn't mean we're not also planning to support the iPad. Alas, I'm one of those pitiful souls who does not yet own an iPad. :-(
So have no fear. Our initial release of the app will not be restricted to the iPhone, but will work beautifully on the iPad as well. That means that the iPad app will be adapted to the iPad's larger screen and will not merely be an iPhone app scaled to fit. Other than that, the two apps will be identical. Beyond that initial release, we have some very exciting plans for the iPad as a unique platform, but I'm not at liberty to talk about those yet. What I can tell you is that whether you use an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, you can look forward to being able to access your Accordance modules on your device of choice.
There are a lot of things I love about my job, but one of the things I love the most is that I get to play with cool new developments before most other people do. One of those cool things I'm getting to play with these days is our prototype iPhone app.
Before you get too excited, we've still got a good deal of work to do before the iOS app is ready for release. Right now we're doing some internal testing and evaluation of the features that have been implemented so far, and I can't even guarantee that the way the app works now is exactly what you'll get in the release version. So I hope you'll forgive me if I don't reveal many details in this post. At this point, I'm just going to relate my experience of using the app in a real world situation.
Yesterday I took my iPhone to church with me and used it for a very basic application: looking up and reading the passages the pastor preached from. The sermon was a great test case, because the pastor had us jumping from Psalm 8 to Revelation 22 to Acts and Exodus and elsewhere. To further add to the challenge of navigating all those passages, my 18-month-old son was asleep in my arms. I had his head in the crook of my left arm and his legs in the crook of my right. That meant I had my right hand free to hold the iPhone and my right thumb to use for navigation.
I'm pleased to report that even with one thumb I had no trouble getting to each passage quickly and easily. Once the pastor gave the reference for the next passage, I would click the navigation arrow at the bottom of the screen, select the book and chapter I wanted, and click the Go To button. The passage would come up immediately and I would be ready to read along by the time the pastor began reading. I really like the navigation interface we're using, but it's different from most other programs I've seen, so I was curious to see if it was fast enough to keep up with a sermon that required a lot of "page turning." It was indeed.
Even the current prototype has some pretty powerful features, and I wish I could boast that I used those features to check the pastor's exegetical accuracy and fidelity to the underlying Greek and Hebrew. I'm afraid all I did was read along. Yet for all its power, I suspect that's one of the main things you'll be using the iPhone app to do, and if we don't get quick and easy navigation right, it won't matter if you can find all the hapax legomena in the Greek New Testament. I'm therefore happy to report that I think we're getting it right.
I'm sorry I can't tell you more at this point, but I'm incredibly excited about where we're going with this app, and I think you'll find it well worth the wait.