Home>Palm OS>Reviews>Bible Programs Review

Bible Programs Review

by Tim Drenk
Posted 2/1/02
Updated 1/21/03
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Being able to carry a Bible on a Palm OS device is almost reason enough to get Palm. Then the choice is which Bible program to get. There are several programs available ranging from freeware to commercial. To help make that decision a little easier, I've looked at eight Bible programs and rated each in twelve different categories on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best). I have not included Bibles for doc reader programs such as PalmReader or TomeRaider and PQA programs for wireless devices.

The programs are:

The eleven categories are:

  1. Speed: How fast is starting the program and switching to a different passage or translation?
  2. Navigation: How easy is it to get from one passage to another?
  3. Find/Search: How easy and fast is finding a word or phrase?
  4. Bookmarks: Can I mark a favorite verse so I can quick come back to it?
  5. User Marks: Can I highlight words/passage and add my own notes?
  6. Translations: What translations are available?
  7. Study Tools: What other study tools beside the Bible are available?
  8. Languages: Is the program available in other languages?
  9. Memory Card: Does the program support storing Bibles on a memory card?
  10. Extras: Are there any extra features or functions?
  11. Support: How does the publisher respond to problems? How do I get the latest version?
  12. Cost: Is it reasonably priced?


by Laridian, version 4.0 (Dec 28 2004)
  1. Speed: 9
    Moving from one book to another is instantaneous. As soon as I write the number of a chapter, the passage is displayed. Switching between translations is also fast, even switching between translations that are stored on a external memory card is fast. Using a Palm Tungsten T3 and a 1GB SD card, launching the program with the translation on the card takes about a second. It takes a few seconds for the pop-up list of the installed translations to appear the first time, subsequent times it is instant. It only takes a second or so for another translation to load.

  2. Navigation: 9
    To move to a different passage in MyBible tap on the current location in the upper right to display all the books and tap on the desired book. Then tap on the chapter and then verse To move to a different chapter, simply write the chapter number. Make a period (double tap) and write the desired verse number. It's also possible use vertical and horizontal lines to move to next/previous chapter/verse. If you write a number for a chapter or verse that doesn't exist, the program will beep. To move a different translation, tap on the current translation at the top of the screen to display all currently installed Bible. After tapping on a different translation, the current verse will be displayed in the selected Bible.

  3. Find/Search: 9
    To use MyBible's find feature, select "Find" from the Options menu or write the letter "F". Enter the word, words, or phrase, select the range you want to search in (current book, Old Testament, Pentateuch, History Books, etc.) and the type of search (Exact match, Any word, All words) and tap Find. A list will appear with the verses that met the criteria. Tap on the verse you wish to see the full passage. Go to the find again to see the search results again to go to another verse. It allows wild characters and either/or functions. It is only missing advanced Boolean functions (such as either/or but not). Overall, MyBible has a well developed find feature.

  4. Bookmarks: 6
    Bookmarks are easy to add. Go to the desired verse, tap on the Bookmark icon at the top, and select "Set Bookmark". To go to a bookmarked verse, tap on the Bookmark icon, and select the verse from the drop down list. Although this is fast for a few bookmarks, if you add more than 15 verses, the list gets long and cumbersome.

  5. User Marks: 9
    In the latest version of MyBible, I can add my own notes to passages and highlight words or passages. Selecting 'Highlighter on/off' or writing an 'H' will make the highlighter toolbar at the bottom of the screen appear. On color devices, I have the choice of six different colors. Tapping on a color box selects it. The last color box, white, is used to erase any highlight and return the normal background of white. On grayscale devices, I have the choice of a solid underline or a dashed underline. To highlight, I tap and drag to select the word(s) I wish to highlight. I can change or erase the highlighting by simply selecting the word(s) again with a different color. Given the difference between the various translation, highlighting is translation specific, if I highlight in the NLT, no highlighting is applied in any other translation.
    To add a note, I can select 'Add note' in the 'Edit' menu or write a 'N'. The note will be attached to the verse that is at the top of the screen. I can use the up/down arrows in the upper right to add the note to a different verse. I was able to write amost 2000 characters (over 300 words) which should meet almost everybody's note taking needs. Once a note has been added to a verse, a small note icon appears after the verse number. Notes written in one translation will appear in all translation.

  6. Translations: 9
    The NIV, NLT (New Living Translation), NAS, RSV, The Message, ESV (English Standard Version), NKJV, KJV, ASV, DNT (Darby's New Translation), WEB (World English Bible), YLT (Young's Literal Translation) are available.

  7. Study Tools: 1
    There are no study tools available for MyBible.

  8. Languages: 1
    MyBible is only available in English.

  9. Memory Card: 9
    Storing Bibles on a memory card works very well. There is a very slight delay to load a Bible when it's on a memory card. Once it's loaded, there is no delay moving from one passage to another.

  10. Extras: 7
    Most of the translations have translation footnotes available. Tapping on the small circle will display the footnote.
    Most of the translations include the section heading.

    MyBible is integrated with Memorize and DailyReader, other programs from Laridian. Memorize, click here to read a review of it, helps you keep a list of Scripture verses. When both are installed, Memorize is able to import the text of the verse from MyBible. DailyReader, which is reviewed here, provides an easy way to keep up and keep track of your daily Bible reading or other devotional readings.

  11. Support: 9
    After purchasing MyBible or any other item from Laridian, you can download any of the items you purchased by entering in your email address and password on the Login page. Any items that have been updated since the last time you downloaded them will be in the top section labeled 'Updated Products'. All other products that you have downloaded are listed below that.
    The support page has a large list of FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) to give immediate answers to most problems. If that doesn't answer your problem or issue, Laridian's tech support has been very quick to respond to any problems as well as updating their products to fix any bugs.

  12. Cost: 8
    MyBible costs $10 for the program, the NIV and NAS are $25 each, the NLT, RSV, ESV, NKJV, and the Message cost $15, the KJV, ASV, DNT, WEB, and YLT are free. Most of the cost for the NIV and NAS is licensing fees so the higher cost for those two translations is not Laridian's fault. They currently do not have a demo of MyBible, but they are offering a 30 day money back guarantee in the mean time.

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by Olive Tree, version 3.50d84
  1. Speed: 6
    The program is a little slow loading and it takes about 3-4 seconds to switch translations when the translations are in the internal memory. It is a little slower when the translations are on an external memory card, which I expected. The speed of the program is average, not the fastest or slowest.

  2. Navigation: 8
    To move to a different passage, tap on the current reference at the top of the screen which brings up the "Verse Chooser". The "Verse Chooser" has two layouts. The first layout, the "Quick Tap Verse Chooser", shows all the books of the Bible. After you tap on a book, the chapters of that book are displayed. After you tap on a chapter, the verses are displayed. Once you tap a verse, the passage is displayed. The second layout, the "Single Page Verse Chooser", displays the books of either the Old or New Testament and a key pad. You tap or write the reference, then tap "Go" and the passage is displayed.

  3. Find/Search: 8
    To use BibleReader's find feature, select "Search" from the Bible menu or tap the magnifying glass (if it's shown). Enter the word, words, or phrase, select the type of search - Exact, All Words, Any Word, Ignore Case (Ignore Case seems out of place) and the range you want to search in (Gen-Rev, Matt-John, or any range you want) and tap "Find First" or "New List". Note: "New List" is only available with beta version 3.40a or later and updated translations. After tapping "Find First", BibleReader will go to the first match that meets the criteria. To find the next match, tap the magnifying glass with a plus next to it or select "Find Next" from the Bible menu. After tapping "New List", BibleReader will display the search results in a list with the total numbers finds at the bottom. Tapping on the Menu Button brings up the previous screen if you wish to change the search criteria. At this point, there are still a few bugs in the Search List feature, but it's still in the beta phase and it's a vast improvement.

  4. Bookmarks: 6
    Bookmarks are easy to add. Go to the desired verse, tap on the Bookmark icon in the top right, and select "Add Bookmark". To go to a bookmarked verse, tap on the Bookmark icon, and select the verse from the drop down list. Although this is fast for a few bookmarks, if you add more than 15 verses, the list gets long and cumbersome.

  5. User Marks: 1
    BibleReader does not have any highlight or user notes features.

  6. Translations: 9
    There are over 30 English translations available, from the NAS, NLT, and NRSV to the Literal Translation of the Holy Bible (LITV), The Living Bible (TLB) and The Message by Eugene Peterson (MSG). There are also several devotionals available. Click here to see the full list of translations and languages available.

  7. Study Tools: 9
    The KJV and the NAS are available with Strong's numbers and Hebrew and Greek dictionaries. The dictionaries can be displayed in the full window or in a split window on the bottom allowing the dictionary to be viewed along with the text. Along with the English translations, there are a over 10 Hebrew and Greek texts available including the Greek New Testament with GRAMCORD Lite. The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary is available for free and the Revised Common Lectionary is currently being developed.

  8. Languages: 9
    The Bible is available in over 20 different languages including Albanian, Chinese, Czech, French, German, and Indonesian. The program itself is now available in Spanish, French, German, Norwegian, and Portuguese. They are still being beta testing, but they are very usable. You can download them here.

  9. Memory Card: 8
    Storing Bibles on a memory card works very well. There is a longer delay loading a Bible when it's on a memory card, and small lag moving from passage to passage.

  10. Extras: 8
    The text color and background can be changed. The "Desktop" can also be changed between 4 different layouts. The layouts are: 1. the toolbar at the top; 2. full screen text with no toolbars; 3. a navigation bar at the bottom and the toolbar at the top; 4. a navigation bar at the bottom of the screen and the find field at the top of the screen.
    BibleReader is integrated with Bible ReadMe. Bible ReadMe has several different schedules for daily Bible reading, one passage per day. Tapping on the passage in Bible ReadMe will take you to the actual text in BibleReader.
    Handmark now sells PDA Bible MMC which is BibleReader on a MultiMedia Card. It comes with KJV, NKJV, ASV, and Renia Valera (Spanish) and costs $30. Since OliveTree updates BibleReader so frequently, I think it's better to buy a MMC or SD card and put the translations of your choice on it.

  11. Support: 9
    BibleReader is updated very frequently to add new features and/or fix bugs. OliveTree has a good support page which should solve most problems and the support staff are very responsive to problems as well.
    You can download or download again any items you have purchased from the customer login page. The link is emailed to you along with your password after your purchase, but the link is very tough to find by looking on their website.

  12. Cost: 9
    The program and numerous translations are free. The cost of the other translations is very reasonable, between $12 and $30. The study tools cost more, $24 - $45, but they come with more than just a Bible translation.

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Bible Reader for Palm

by AsaiSoft, version 1.12
  1. Speed: 9
    The program launches and switches between translations quickly. Even with Bibles on a memory card, Bible Reader loads Bibles and moves from passage to passage with very little lag.

  2. Navigation: 7
    Tapping on the book icon brings up the "GoTo" screen that allows you to switch between books and translations. Since there are only six books displayed at once and scroll arrows are used to move up and down the list, moving from a New Testament book to a Old Testament book is a little cumbersome. Having a scroll bar would be better, but it is still not the fastest way to move around. The scroll bars for chapter and verse is nice if you don't know how many chapters or verses there are. The best feature of Bible Reader for Palm's navigation are the arrows at the top of the screen. They function like the back and forward buttons on a web browser. They move you back and forth between passages you have viewed. Getting to a passage may take a little longer, but once there, it only takes one tap to go in between passages. I was able to go back through 20 different passages I viewed using the arrows. I do wish the passage I'm in was displayed on the screen. If I forget were I'm at, I have to go to the book icon to see the current reference.

  3. Find/Search: 5
    The Search functions is also limited by the design as the navigation is. The scroll bars for chapter and verse is both good and bad. It does allow for very refined searches. But it also creates some confusion. When I initially tap on a book, the chapter and verse are at 1, which means the search will end with the prior book. If I want to search the Gospels, in the "From" column I need to select Matthew and in the "To" column, I need to either select John and move the chapter and scroll bars all the way to the right or select Acts. The other major problem is that searches are slow. It took several minutes to search the four Gospels for the word Caiaphas. One redeeming feature is as Bible Reader finds matches, the results are displayed even though the search isn't done. Tapping on one of the matches stops the search and moves to the selected verse. If I still want to look for more matches, tapping on the search icon at the top of the screen will bring up the previously found results. Tapping on 'Search' will continue the search from where it stopped.

  4. Bookmarks: 5

    The bookmark feature is similar to other programs. Go to the passage, tap the bookmark icon, and tap add to create a bookmark. Unfortunately there is no "Ok" button so I tapped on the bookmark I wanted to go to, and tapped "Add" by mistake instead of double tapping on the passage. As a result, I created a second duplicate bookmark. Since the window takes up the whole screen, it is nice to see the current passage at the bottom of the screen.

  5. User Marks: 1
    Bible Reader for Palm does not have any highlight or user notes features.

  6. Translations: 8

    There are 14 English translations available which are all are released under the GNU GPL License (i.e. free), such as the KJV and the ASV. Two translations also come with the Apocrypha. The NIV is also available for Bible Reader. It comes with two Chinese translations since it was released by the International Bible Society of Hong Kong. Even though the requirements listed include Chinese Language System, it only applies to the two Chinese versions, the NIV is in English. There is a Bible Converter for the Bible Reader for Palm that allows you to create a Bible for Bible Reader for Palm from various file formats, although depending on what you're converting, that could be a copyright infringement. Click here to see all the Bibles available.

  7. Study Tools: 8
    There are 6 commentaries and notes available, plus the KJV with Strong's, and they are all free. With the dual screen ability of Bible Reader, I can read the text and the commentary of my choice at the same time. As I scroll up or down, both screens scroll but stay in sync with each other so they may scroll at different rates. Scrolling from Romans 8:38 in the NIV and Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary, the NIV scrolls slower than the commentary since the commentary contains more text.

  8. Languages: 9

    The Bible is available in 13 languages with more than one translations available in several languages. What makes the Bible Reader for Palm most useful for other languages is the program itself is available in all those languages. The tools to localize the program for other languages are available.

  9. Memory Card: 9
    Storing Bibles on a memory card works very well. There is a slight delay when a Bible is on a memory card, however, there is no delay moving from passage to passage.

  10. Extras: 8
    Bible Reader for Palm has the ability to display two translations or commentary at the same time. I can choose any two installed translations or commentary, including a different language. It's a great feature and I commend the developer making it work without much slow down.
    Another extra feature is the ability to change the line spacing. There are three choices, the left and middle picture below is the tightest, the picture on the right is the widest, and the picture on the left under Navigation is the middle spacing. The tight spacing is nice for the split screen while the middle and wide spacing is more comfortable to read.

  11. Support: 8
    AsaiSoft has a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page. It has some answers on it, although it could be expanded. AsaiSoft responds to problems and issues quickly. I had a some problems getting a registration key from the web, but the problem was solved very quickly by AsaiSoft's staff.
    Getting updates is very easy, even with registered translations. Just download the latest version and install it over what's current installed.

  12. Cost: 10
    Bible Reader and almost of the available translations are free. The NIV plus two Chinese versions cost $18, which is the least expensive NIV for the Palm OS.

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