When the iOS Gospel Library team received the request for an upgraded app for iOS devices, they were eager to complete the task. It was time to do it. And it was time to develop and design it differently than it had been done before.
The app would need to be able to add new content, implement changes, and ship upgrades in a new way. Within 48 hours the team had drawn up plans for new development, design, and testing processes for the app’s structure, and came up with ten design principles to improve the app’s user interface.
The team posted a mission statement at their workstations as a reminder. The whole purpose for the Gospel Library app is to “deepen, broaden, and improve gospel learning and teaching by giving members mobile access to all published Church content in an easy and immediate offline experience.”
Most important was the platform redesign. To push out content updates without the app becoming unstable content is now added in a separate process; the user won’t need to install a new version of the app every time new content is published. For example, new issues of the Ensign, any corrections to content, other new additions to the library, etc., will appear the next time the user opens the app. When the next set of features or bug fixes is added, it will happen without interference.
The app’s platform also expands to fit new library content. Engineer David Weiss described how they mapped it all out. “We took actual note cards, one representing every publication the Church has ever produced, and made a place for each one in the system. If the Church were to make all of that material available, we’ve designed the app to fit it.” Mapping things in the real world helped the team create a better user experience.
This potential of the app is what excites developer Stephan Heilner. “When the app shipped,” he said, “my wife asked, ‘Well, now what are you going to work on?’ But we haven’t crossed the finish line. By shipping the app we’ve just crossed the starting line. Now we will keep working to improve the functions and features of the app.”
One of the feature details Heilner was particularly instrumental with was the content highlighting feature. After a concentrated effort on the highlighting feature, the app now highlights with a more realistic display of translucent colors, and the Bezier gradient style gives true scripture-marker authenticity. “It’s details like these that maybe not many users will notice, but they really make a difference.”
Weiss added, “We’ve found that people are annotating a third more than before. The designers on the team selected a more user-friendly typesetting that makes reading easier. They did a great job making the experience more realistic for users to study content.”
Throughout the development process there were over a thousand testers for the app. To help on such projects, volunteers should browse through and join projects on the LDSTech Projects page. When you join projects on LDSTech, you will receive notifications to participate in beta testing and other development. The testers for the iOS Gospel Library provided critical feedback for the app during the creation phase and they will be instrumental as the team keeps working.
Another great place to discuss the app is the LDSTech Forum. It receives almost-daily posts about various aspects of the upgrade and users are invited to go participate and learn from others about the app. To submit feedback for the Gospel Library app, send your comments and details about which device you’re using to
. On the other end of your email are Church-service missionaries Elder and Sister Gunn and Elder and Sister Smith, called to help manage and direct user feedback to all the right people and solutions. You can follow iOS Gospel Library pages on Facebook and Twitter for the latest app information and tips.