As the use of smart phones grows more and more each day, it seems there is an app for nearly anything imaginable. While I’ve done a fair amount of Bible reading utilizing apps from LOGOS and Accordance, the new series of devotional apps from Thomas Nelson is my first foray into devotional reading on the iPhone and iPad. Based on the copyright information page, it looks like Thomas Nelson partnered with AuthorMobile (www.authormobile.com) to create this new devotional app.
This particular app is based on the book Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (Thomas Nelson, 2004) by Sarah Young. Here is a brief description of the book taken from the Thomas Nelson web site:
“Jesus Calling is a devotional filled with uniquely inspired treasures from heaven for every day of the year. After many years of writing in her prayer journal, missionary Sarah Young decided to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever she believed He was saying to her. It was awkward at first, but gradually her journaling changed from monologue to dialogue. She knew her writings were not inspired as Scripture is, but journaling helped her grow closer to God. Others were blessed as she shared her writings, until people all over the world were using her messages. They are written from Jesus’ point of view, thus the title Jesus Calling. It is Sarah’s fervent prayer that our Savior may bless readers with His presence and His peace in ever deeper measure.”
In order to better help the reader understand the user experience within the app, I am going to review some of the features and functionality available as you use the app. Keep in mind the screen shots below are from the iPad. The app will have a slightly different look and feel on the iPod touch or iPhone.
On the home screen, users can select the particular devotional reading that they would like to read. The reading for the current day is highlighted in red. Additional buttons on the home screen are as follows:
Media Button – The media button is in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. Users can access bonus audio or video content related to Jesus Calling. At the time of this review, the only media available is a promotional book trailer.
A. Home - Returns user to the home screen.
B. Search – User can search all devotional readings by topic, verse, date, or keyword.
C. Store – Additional titles by the author for purchase.
D. Gift – Users can purchase the Jesus Calling app for a friend.
E. How to Use – The how to use feature gives a detailed explanation of all features within the app.
F. Info – The info feature has all of the relevant copyright information for the app.
The reading / devotional screen is where you’ll be spending most of your time as you use the app. Besides reading the daily reading, users will also be able access a few additional features.
Social Media Buttons – Users can share selections from their devotional reading on either Facebook or Twitter.
Notes Button – By clicking the notes button, users will be able to access the notes interface that will allow them to enter their own thoughts and prayers. The notes are associated with the particular devotional reading under which they were entered, which could make them rather difficult to find if you wanted to review them at a later date. Users are also able to customize the background of the notes page. At the time of this review, the notes interface contained 13 different custom backgrounds to choose from.
Kudos to Thomas Nelson for leading the way in their market space, by making a large number of devotional titles available for this new concept of the devotional app. I think it is still a bit early to declare whether or not this type of app will catch on. However as e-books continue to gain more and more acceptance, users will most likely be willing to use a devotional app combining the features of a personal devotional book and journal. Considering that this app is based around an electronic version of a book, I was surprised at the number of features it had. Overall, it made for a good user experience. My only suggestion for future editions of the app would be to make the notes pages searchable or offer the ability for users to tag their notes entries. If you are interested in the Jesus Calling app, you can learn more here: LINK.
In preparing for this review, I also had the opportunity to test the Live Loved app, which is based on Live Loved: Experiencing God’s Presence in Everyday Life (Thomas Nelson, 2011) by Max Lucado. This app uses the same interface as as the Jesus Calling app, so all of the above comments related to the use of the interface would apply there as well. You can learn more about the Live Loved app here: LINK.
This app was provided by the publisher for review. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
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