The point of this article is to share some of my findings in comparing Bible study software for Android. My test equipment is a 10.1-inch tablet running Android.
Up until I bought this tablet I had been running an open source Bible study software called Bible Desktop. It's nice and all; but it's really hard to get it to use premium (non-free) Bibles. I did buy NET Bible (20 bucks) for it. I use it a lot. Otherwise, the software caters to free stuff.
Anyway, I installed Olive Tree and Logos onto my tablet. When I started shopping for addons I was quite disapointed in the fact that Logos charges for EVERYTHING! Sometimes the prices are quite inflated. There are some resources that just should be free. I'm talking about the Matthew Henry Concise Commentary, for example. King James Version Bible should be free as well. For one thing, with a few basic resources, a user can test out the software. I can say, Logos was an instant turnoff.
I gave Olive Tree a good run and I like it a lot. It's real useful. I bought another copy of the NetBible and a fresh copy of NRSV. I also paid for a resources called Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. Olive Tree is a little unstable on Android but I can live with it. I was browsing for a good quality and recent one-volume commentary. I was actually looking for the Jerome (Catholic) commentary or the the HarperCollins (Society of Biblical Literature) commentary. I was surprised to find some other resources for Olive Tree that should be free but aren't. I thought I stumbled on Barne's Notes; but when I tried to find it again I couldn't.
I went over to the site that has all the free resources: Crosswire.org. Behold! There is an Android software that runs the sword modules. It's called And Bible. I gave it a spin and I think I'll keep it around. It's easy to use and it's fast. It doesn't have a lot of bling but it's straight-forward. It's clearly made for small screens (and I'm running a tablet) but access to all the sword modules makes it nice to have around.
Below is a presentation of the resources available for the three softwares I am reviewing. Note, for value, And Bible is the best. Probably for useability and beauty, if price is no object, Logos comes out on top. Overall, for a nice comfortabe app with moderately priced resources, there's Olive Tree.
|Resource||Olive Tree||Logos||And Bible|
|World English Bible||$0.00||Not Available||$0.00|
|NET Bible, partial notes||$0.00||Not Available||$0.00|
|NET Bible, full notes||$9.99||$10.00||$19.95|
|Matthew Henry Concise||$0.00||$24.95||$0.00|
|Matthew Henry Complete||$19.99||$19.95||$0.00|
|Jamieson Fausset Brown Commentary||$0.00||$79.95||$0.00|
|Barnes' Notes (N.T.)||Not Available||Not Available||$0.00|
|Barnes' Notes (whole Bible)||Not Available||$119.95||Not Available|
|Keil and Delitzsch Commentary (O.T.)||$41.00||$119.95||$0.00|
|Treasury of Scripture Knowledge||$12.99||$39.99||$0.00|
I'll compare my two favorite choices: Olive Tree and And Bible. Below is a screenshot of the Olive Tree app. Note that two resources can be opened at the same time. If they are both Bibles or one is a resources that follows Book/chapter/verse like a Bible, they can be synchronized with each other. In the example, Isaiah 59:1 is open and Treasury of Scripture Knowledge is open in the second window. I have clicked on a crossreference which opens in a flyover window. The text can be opened up in one of the two main windows. (All images are resized down to width=1024).
In the And Bible, there are no split views or flyover windows. Notice how much white space there is on the screen. Obviously, the design is for really small screens. I can switch to Treasury of Scripture Knowledge by tapping the "TSK" button at the upper right.
When I go to the next resource (TSK) it opens to the correct passage. When I tap one of the references and it opens - full screen.
Switching to another resource, if it's not one of the buttons at the top of the screen, can be activated very quickly.
In order to demonstrate the usability of And Bible, I needed three screenshots where it took only one to demonstrate the same thing on Olive Tree. That does not mean And Bible is cumbersome. Navigation might even be faster in And Bible. My beef with And Bible is the lack of support for premium resources; but since it is an open project, it would be really difficult to support premium stuff. My beef with the commercial softwares like Olive Tree is that some resources that should be free aren't. The resources for the Logos reader are ridiculously expensive.