iPhone Bible Software Comparison

I’ve recently purchased an iPod Touch, and I’ve been playing with the iPhone Bible reader applications in the App Store. The problem is that some programs include a few of the Bible translations I like, but none of them include all of them. Furthermore, many of the most popular versions are not available offline. So that others can avoid the confusion, I’ve created a table that compares the Bible translations/versions available with each of several free Bible readers. Read on to see the results.

I’ve been without a PDA since my Palm TX screen broke several years ago. Since I didn’t really have the money to replace it, I learned to do without it, and it wasn’t really a huge deal. This past week, however, we finished our taxes and are expecting a nice refund, so we decided I could go ahead and purchase a new PDA. Unfortunately, the Palm OS has gone downhill recently, and Windows Mobile devices haven’t done much better (although the most recent release might change that). The PDA market is now dominated by smart phones (iPhones and Blackberries), but I can’t really afford a data plan on my cell phone bill. The best option seemed to be an iPod Touch, which would give me access to all the PDA software developed for the iPhone, plus wifi access (which exists at all of the places I spent most of my time), without the monthly data access fees. So we picked up a new iPod Touch 32GB at the local Target, and I’ve had quite a bit of fun playing around with it over the past few days.

Unfortunately, I’ve been very disappointed with the state of Bible software in the App Store. There seem to be no comparable products to the open-source Palm Bible+ program I used to use on my TX or the excellent PC e-Sword software that had a Windows Mobile version. Instead, there is a smattering of various (mostly commercial) offerings, and the available-for-free translation selection is rather hit-or-miss. Thus, I decided to make a spreadsheet to compare the translations and versions available with each of the software packages.

Please note that this comparison does NOT take into account specific software features, only the translations and versions offered. Also, I have only included the translations that are available for free. Here is a list of the specific software packages I compared (along with its abbreviation in the table heading):

Here is the comparison table:

[TABLE=3]

Key:

X = available offline and online
o = available online only

The first group includes all versions that I judged to be highly popular, the second group includes those that are less popular, and the third group includes the most old or obscure ones. As you can see, YouVersion seems to have the best selection of the popular versions, although many of them are not available offline (which is important for iPod Touch owners like me, and for those who live in areas with bad wireless coverage). Also, if you’re looking for older or more obscure translations, Olive Tree seems to be your best bet. There are of course other considerations as well that I haven’t taken into account here; for instance, I find the Logos software to be the nicest for browsing (scrolling is fast and feels very natural).

Feel free to contact me if you find a software package that I missed, or if you spot a mistake in the table. Also, I might post the full Bible names later if the abbreviations are confusing. Anyway, I hope this is useful to all you folks out here in iPhone/iPod Touch land. 🙂

EDIT1: I’ve already discovered that I missed one: Touch Bible, which includes offline access to ASV, KJV, NET, WEB, and YLT (the standard selection of copyright-free Bibles).

EDIT2: And another one: PocketSword, which is an iPhone interface for the larger SWORD project. I’ve only found a couple of translations that I recognized (ESV, surprisingly, as well as the standard KJV, NET, WEB, and YLT), but it also has a ton of extremely obscure translations that I’ve never even heard of. More interestingly, however, they actually have most of the commentaries that I was missing from the Palm Bible+, which is nice. Now if only I could combine the translations of YouVersion, the commentaries of PocketSword, and the interface of Logos! 🙂

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