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Saturday, April 14, 2012

YouVersion - you should have it on your phone

A few days ago I did something I haven't done often. I wrote a "User Review" of an app on the Android Market:
Holy Bible icon
This is the Cadillac of Bible apps. It's designed simply to get you reading the Bible; it has very little in the way of study tools such as cross-references or Greek/Hebrew lexicons. What it does have is just about every Bible translation that the layman has ever heard of, even in audio in some cases, and scads of "reading plans" to help you get engaged with the translation of your choice. It eliminates any excuse you might have for not reading the Bible regularly. The icing on the cake is that it's free!
The app I was talking about is of course YouVersion, which I have mentioned here in the blog several times before. If you have it on your phone, it's probably just called "Bible". If you don't have it on your phone, right away you should visit with your phone and download it! Here's a QR code you can scan to take you there if that's the way you roll:

 YouVersion download QR code
Scan to download the Bible to your phone

YouVersion's Bible app really is the cream of the crop for mobile device Bible reading. Well, I'll temper that statement a little bit: the YouVersion app is free, and there may be paid apps out there that rival it in one way or another. In fact, since I use the Logos software on my home computer, I also have the Logos Android app installed, and it gives me a bunch of study materials that YouVersion doesn't have (the ESV Study Bible notes, for example), and on top of that it lets me split my screen in half and view two translations at once! But I use YouVersion far more often, and here's why:
  1. YouVersion has probably every Bible translation you've ever heard of. It certainly has my favorites... the ESV, NAS, HCSB, NIV, NLT. There are scads of English versions, and a bunch of non-English translations as well.
  2. Romans 8 displayed in the YouVersion Bible App
    This is what it looks like when you're reading on
    Android... how simple is THAT?
    It's easy to use. You open it up, tap the icon that says "Bible", and you're reading the Bible! Changing the passage you're looking at or changing the translation you're reading are intuitive processes (which is something I can NOT say about the Logos app... changing translations or passages in that app is pretty convoluted until you get used to it).
  3. Audio. Not a recreational reader? Staring at a page of text makes your eyes roll back in your head? The YouVersion app has audio files for many of their translations, which means that after you point and click your way to a passage, you can listen to it instead of (or in addition to) reading it. This means that you could listen to the Bible in your car on a daily commute (I've done it), while you're going to sleep at night (done that too), or wherever you are.
  4. Reading plans. YouVersion has tons of daily reading plans that you can choose from. Some of them are only a couple of days or a week long and cover specific topics or books; others range up to long-term plans to read through the entire Bible. And you can use the audio in conjunction with your reading plan, so instead of reading passages from sometimes several different books/locations, you can have them read to you. I'm working on a reading plan that has a two chapters assigned each day from two different books. If I start the audio running on the first chapter, when it reaches the end it proceeds to the second chapter automatically! How cool is THAT? If you sign up for a free YouVersion account, you can track your reading over time, and you can actually read through an app or their Web version and you "get credit" from whichever you use (so you could read from your phone one day, listen to audio on your phone the next day, and read on your computer the next day, and the system tracks your progress from all three). It can also be set up to fire an alert on your phone every day to remind you to read your passage, and if you miss a day or two you can shift your reading program's dates so that today's reading is the only one you have to complete to be caught up. No guilt trip and no scrambling to catch up by reading multiple days... nice! It's the least stressful Bible reading plan system I've ever tried.
  5. Downloadable translations. Some, but not all, of the Bible translations in YouVersion can be downloaded to your mobile device so that you can access them even from places where you do not have data access; other translations (because of restrictions set by the publishers) are not downloadable.
The issue of downloadable translations does bring up the only major problem I've had with the YouVersion app: if you do not have data access, you may have trouble even getting the app to start. There is no public WiFi at my church and the building makes 3G availability a touch and go proposition, and this has given me trouble a few times. Usually if you have a downloaded translation it will start right up, but sometimes it insists on being able to see the YouVersion server on the Internet and it won't open at all. I haven't seen this happen in quite a while, though, so presumably I've either gotten every translation that I use downloaded, the data accessibility at my church has improved, or YouVersion has fixed it (they are pretty active about updating the Android app, and I understand they're good about new versions on other platforms as well). So I suppose your mileage may vary on that, but the fact is that this is an OUTSTANDING way to get yourself engaged with the Word. And even if you use a different Bible app, this one likely can give you access to translations that you don't have in that app. Scan the QR code above or visit your app store directly and download this thing. Tell yourself you'll keep it in your hip pocket when your regular Bible app fails you... but you may find yourself using YouVersion more often than you thought! And if you struggle with getting yourself to read the Bible regularly, the reading plans and/or audio versions may be the thing that enables you to start engaging more often. That's the goal of the YouVersion apps - to help you get into the Bible, wherever and whenever you can. What a terrific goal to have!

1 comment:

Justine said...

Just this week I discovered the NLT audio. LOVE IT!!!! I can listen while I clean the kitchen.