Judging from the range of questions submitted, presenters for the new LDS.org, LDS Tools, and the Gospel Library for Windows apps captivated both an onsite audience at the Church’s Riverton Office Building and over a hundred online viewers who participated in the LDSTech broadcast on April 17. The following recaps a concentrated hour of inspiration and insight:
Jeff Isom explained the background and rationale behind recent and proposed changes to LDS.org, emphasizing evolutionary improvements over less frequent revolutionary changes. A guiding mantra has been to make resources easier to find online through better search capabilities and better navigation. Based on research and user feedback, test results demonstrated an improvement overall from 57% to 75% in ease of access performing 96 common navigation tasks. Several new navigation pages are planned and will be shared with Church departments and stakeholders before becoming final. New training and awareness materials are also planned and will be integrated to ease transitions. Look for the next upgrade in mid-May.
Justin Krebs shared insight behind recent changes to LDS Tools 2.4 and projected changes for version 2.5. He discussed three key improvements: 1) custom sorting of user created distribution groups with custom sorts within lists, 2) information about assigned full-time, locally called, and serving missionaries, and 3) greater access to member data according to callings. Looking ahead to version 2.5, Justin shared a prototype of home and visiting teaching, which will initially be available to members of the ward council, presidencies, and secretaries. Relabeling menu options is planned, along with a new ability to send email or texts to pre-configured organizational groups. Unit statistics will be expanded with filters and sorts for the birthday report, and members will see their ordinance summary data. Version 2.5 release date is planned for the end of June.
Tony Spencer, long-time project volunteer with LDSTech, rounded out the discussion with exciting changes for Gospel Library for Windows 8.1. According to Tony, users will find Gospel Library fits well into in-depth gospel study, and new features capitalize on key Windows capabilities not found elsewhere. It is easier than ever to pin, bookmark, annotate, and navigate. A snapped mode keeps menus open on the left, within reach for one-handed operations. Pinch to zoom, collapses or expands menus to make finding content easier and shortcuts add context sensitive interactions to searches. “My Collections” allows you to create bundles of books used frequently together, and In-line notes with live pen support for active digital pens allow highlights to repeat using natural swipes with erasing just as natural. Deep linking with other windows apps allows multiple apps to be open, side by side, so components can be dragged and dropped into a lesson outline with hotlinks back to original sources. To help you appreciate improvements, Tony’s demo is full of tips and tricks. A Windows phone version is now in beta, and is expected to be released in the near future.
If you missed the live feed or want a more in depth review of recent and proposed changes, watch the broadcast at https://tech.lds.org/wiki/LDSTech_broadcasts. Great things are happening with LDS apps!