When is 681 million minutes of Bible reading NOT a good thing?

Answer: “When 1 billion minutes was your goal.”

In this video, Terry Storch, Digerati Pastor at LifeChurch.tv, and Bobby Gruenewald, Innovation Leader at LifeChurch.tv, update us on YouVersion’s “1 Billion in January” challenge.

When we announced our goal for a billion minutes, the most we’d seen read in the Bible App™ during a single month was 250 million. Last month, you read 681 million minutes. That’s an increase of 172%! Incredible! While we didn’t hit 1 billion in 31 days, we’re still on track to do it in the first 50 days of 2011. Please keep making God’s Word a part of your life every day, and the moment we reach 1 billion, we’ll celebrate it here on our blog and on Facebook and Twitter.

We’d be honored to have your help spreading the Word. You can participate in lots of ways:

BlackBerry Update: Chinese, German, French and so much more!

The next version (v 2.9) of the Bible App™ for BlackBerry is available now. Get it at BlackBerry App World or download it here through your browser. One feature we’re thrilled to announce is the inclusion of Simplified and Traditional Chinese, right in the interface! If you know anyone who’d like a free, easy-to-read, easy-to-share Bible in Chinese, please let them know about the Bible App, powered by YouVersion.

All around, we’ve worked really hard to make this a terrific release, packed with improvements:

  • To give you a better overall reading experience, we’ve added headings, translation notes, even the words of Christ in red where the translation provides them. You can also change the font directly inside the Bible reader now.
  • The Arabic translation is now right-aligned, making it much easier to read.
  • Besides Simplified and Traditional Chinese, we’ve also added German and French interface support.
  • We updated and improved our Spanish interface, so it should be easier for native Spanish speakers.
  • And of course, what would any release be without bug fixes and performance enhancements?

Do you love reading the Bible on your BlackBerry? Have you told your friends about it yet? Please consider sharing your favorite Bible App features on Facebook and Twitter. We’d be honored if you’d show your friends how easy the Bible App is to get and how it works. (Especially friends whose native language isn’t English.)

BlackBerry Home Screen in Chinese BlackBerry in Chinese 01 BlackBerry in Chinese Bookmark Popup BlackBerry in Chinese Popup Menu BlackBerry in Chinese 04

The Next iPhone Update Is Available

The next version (v 2.7.1) of the Bible App™ for iPhone and iPad is ready and waiting for you in the iTunes App Store right now. You can check the App Store on your device, or you can download it here through your browser. For this release, we’ve added a few features and tweaked several others. Here are just a few of the things you might notice:

  • We’ve improved the native language interface versions for Spanish, German and Chinese.
  • You can now “Copy” a verse, even if you’re offline (disconnected from the Internet or your service provider).
  • Now, when you visit Bible chapters directly, they’ll be included in your History.
  • And because we’re always working on improving the Bible App, we’ve included the ubiquitous “stability enhancements and bug fixes” which means the app will run faster and crash less.

Do you love the Bible App on your Apple device? Do you know friends who haven’t tried it? (Especially friends whose native language isn’t English?) Would you consider sharing it with them? We’d be thrilled if you’d show them how easy it is to get and update—and maybe even demonstrate a couple of your favorite features for them. And as always, we love hearing from you on Facebook and Twitter.

Have You Tried the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)?

You might remember that Broadman & Holman first began generously offering users of the Bible App™ by YouVersion their Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) for offline use back in November. They have now graciously decided to extend this availability to you…indefinitely. We’re thrilled to share in this opportunity to partner with Broadman & Holman and LifeWay in making God’s Word freely available to you.

What “offline use” means: For several of the versions available through the Bible App, you can only read them when you have access to the Internet or to your data provider. This means that if you’re outside of coverage, you won’t be able to read them. But when you download a version to your device, you can read it anytime, anywhere—whether you’re online or not.

To learn more about the Holman Christian Standard Bible, check out their website. They even offer a useful online tool to help you study your HCSB.

How you can get your HCSB:

iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch: From the Bible reader, tap the top bar, where the current translation is presently displayed. All versions display in alphabetical order by language. (You’ll find “Holman Christian Stand…” under EN for English.) Tap the download icon (a green box with a white arrow pointing downward) on the right and follow the instructions.
Tap Current Translation Tap Download Icon Tap Download Button

Android: From the Bible reader, tap the box at the top right that displays the version short code. All available Bible versions display. (You’ll find “Holman Christian Standard…” under English.) Tap the download icon (with an arrow pointing down) on the right.

Tap Current Translation Tap Download Icon Download Complete

Windows Phone 7 v. 1.3: Now with Reading Plans!

A new release, v. 1.3, is now available for the Bible App™ by YouVersion on Windows Phone 7! You can update yours at Marketplace for Mobile right now. While this release contains the typical “bug fixes and performance enhancements,” the feature we’ve actually worked the hardest to bring you is Reading Plans.

When you select a Reading Plan (from a list of more than 50), YouVersion gives you a simple schedule with a little to read each day. A Reading Plan is an easy, focused way to read through whatever you’re interested in in the Bible. And if you happen to miss a day here and there (everybody does sometimes), just tap the “catch up” button, and the Bible App will reset your reading schedule accordingly.

Once you have the Bible App installed on your Windows phone, just go to Reading Plans and browse for the one you want. You can sign up at YouVersion.com for progress update emails for yourself or an accountability partner. It’s never to late to get started!

Just think about it: This could be the year you really connect with the Bible. You can try a plan that takes you through the Bible in a year, or just select parts, even specific topics and daily devotionals. If you’re looking for a challenge, we even have one plan that will help you read the entire Bible in just 90 days!

Be sure to connect your account with your social networks and share your thoughts about what you’re reading with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

YouVersion Support: It’s a New Day!

If you’ve had trouble getting timely assistance for your problems with the Bible App™, you’re not alone. And for that, we would like to sincerely apologize. At YouVersion, we’ve always focused most of our resources on making the Bible as widely available as possible. And because we move so fast, most of our support has traditionally come from our awesome volunteers.

But we want to do more.

Ben Armstrong

We recently realized that we’ve been receiving up to a few hundred support requests every day. Today, we’re addressing that need specifically. We’d like to introduce you to our newest team member, Ben Armstrong, User Support Coordinator for YouVersion. (That’s Ben at the right, hard at work, surfing a tube slide.) Ben will be answering your questions, developing tutorials, writing how-to’s and building out a more comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions list for you.

We’ve always wanted to make the Bible App the best app on your mobile device, whether paid or free. But we’d also like to give you better support than you could get even if you were paying for it. And, we even want to make that happen in all the languages we support.

For those of you who have may have already met Ben during the last week, you know he’s awesome. But Ben won’t be able to do it alone. He’ll need your help. What can you do to help us make YouVersion support fantastic? Here are just a few areas where we already know we could use your assistance:

If you can help, please sign up here, and be sure you choose “customer support”!

Android Update v. 2.7: Reading Plan Widget!

YouVersion is really excited to be able to offer you our very first widget for the Bible App™ on Android! Specifically designed to help you with your YouVersion Reading Plans, you can use this widget to display your reading for today—right on your device’s home screen. Just tap today’s reading, and the widget launches you directly into the Bible App reader!

To get this widget, update to the newest version of the Bible App for Android, v. 2.7, available now in the App Market.

Once you’ve updated your Bible App, here’s how you can add the widget to your Home screen:

Surefire Technique:

  1. Go to your Home screen.
  2. Make room on your Home screen for another widget
    (removing other unused icons and widgets if necessary).
  3. Tap Menu.
  4. Tap Add.
  5. Tap Widgets.
  6. Tap the “Bible (Today’s Reading)” item.

Shortcut Technique:

  1. Go to your Home screen.
  2. Make room on your Home screen for another widget
    (removing other unused icons and widgets if necessary).
  3. Press and hold on any empty space.
  4. When the menu pops up, tap Widgets.
  5. Tap the “Bible (Today’s Reading)” item.

Available Now on YouVersion: The Sharif Arabic Bible!

We’re excited to announce that the Sharif Arabic Bible (SAB) is now available for the Bible App™ and at YouVersion.com! The Sharif Bible is a complete translation of the Bible in Arabic, with special attention given to making the truths of the Gospel accessible to Arab readers.

While we’re thrilled to share this wonderful version with you, we’re even happier that we also get to offer it to you in offline form. This means that if you download it to your mobile device, you can have access to the Sharif Arabic Bible even when you’re not connected to the Internet or to your data provider. (See the instructions below.)

We’re so grateful to the International Sharif Bible Society for making this possible. With more than 1.2 million copies distributed so far, the Sharif Arabic Bible was first published in 1990, then updated in 2000. You can learn more about the Sharif Arabic Bible at www.sharifbible.com. (Note: This site is in Arabic.)

How to Download the SAB

Download Icon
iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch: From the Bible reader, tap the top bar, where the current translation is presently displayed. All versions display in alphabetical order by language. (You’ll find the Sharif Arabic Bible under AR for Arabic, near the top.) Tap the download icon (a green box with a white arrow pointing downward) on the right and follow the instructions.

Android: From the Bible reader, tap the top bar, where the current translation is presently displayed. Tap the box at the top right that displays the version short code. All available Bible versions display. (You’ll find the Sharif Arabic Bible under AR for Arabic.) Tap the download icon (with an arrow pointing down) on the right. That’s it!

The Bible App: An iTunes All-Time Top 10

We honestly cannot tell you how excited we are to share this news with you:

As of this morning, the Bible App™ by YouVersion is listed by Apple
as one of the all-time top apps for both iPad and iPhone.

In fact, according to this article at Tech Crunch, on iPad, the Bible App is in the top 10 free apps! And that’s overall, not just in the Reference category where the Bible App is listed.

And the great story just continues on iPhone. Out of more than 300,000 apps, the Bible App is in the top 50 all-time apps on iPhone:

We’d like to say a huge thanks to all of our users who have made this possible. One of the contributing factors to this milestone is that you guys don’t just use our application yourselves, but you freely share it with others. It’s proof positive: When you tell your friends and your loved ones about what you’re learning from the Bible, whether it’s sharing on Facebook or Twitter, or even in face-to-face conversations, you are making a difference.

Of course, what’s most exciting about this news is the visibility that it gives—not to the Bible App or to YouVersion—but to God’s Word. Everything we do at YouVersion is focused on making the inspired Word of God, His Bible, freely accessible to as many people as we possibly can. Achieving this distinction brings us closer to that ultimate goal.

Essential Reading

Today marks exactly 100 days until Easter, the day when we, as followers of Christ, will reflect on and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.

One of the more than 50 Reading Plans we offer to help you engage with God’s Word is called The Essential Jesus. This plan leads you through 100 carefully selected passages of Scripture, just one each day from both the Old and New Testaments, to introduce you to the person of Jesus. You’ll read prophecies foretelling His coming, see the things He said, observe His interactions with people, follow Him through His death and resurrection—even read about His inevitable return. Because it’s a very manageable amount of reading, it can even help you develop a daily Bible reading habit.

All you’ll need to start is a free YouVersion account. Then simply go to the The Essential Jesus plan’s description and select “Start This Plan,” either on your mobile device or at YouVersion.com. If you link your account to your social networks, you’ll be able to easily share what you’re reading with your friends on Facebook and Twitter, directly from the Bible App.

Best of all, if you start The Essential Jesus today, you’ll finish up exactly on Easter Sunday, just in time to celebrate Him!

The Essential Jesus