I receive a lot of e-mail messages asking about the Gospel Library and LDS Tools for the Android phones. A main concern found in many e-mails is why the Church favors the iOS products (Apple) over the Android system.
I chuckle each time I read this question because I know there is no preference for a given platform. The difference is that the iOS applications started development before the Android applications, and they have a very dedicated core of developers constantly trying to improve the apps.
What can you tell us about the development of the Gospel Library for the Android?
To enable us to quickly put an official Church app on the Android Market, we started with static content. This made the content available but prevented the user from managing or adding new content; it also limited our ability to add new content and features.
Last fall a group of developers started rebuilding the app to allow users to manage the content. Now a user can browse through the content library and choose what they want to download. If users don’t want an item, they can uninstall it later. Though the content has been uninstalled, it is available in the content catalogue and can be reinstalled.
The library is extensive and includes the official version of the scriptures, more than 20 years of general conference reports, more than 30 years of Church magazines, manuals for Sunday School, Priesthood and Relief Society, the Hymn book, the Children’s Songbook, and other Church publications. The library is also available in Spanish and German with other languages being added.
What is in the future for the Android Gospel Library?
We have some exciting plans for the Gospel Library. For example, the ability to sync highlighted passages, notes, and bookmarks with the Study Notebook on LDS.org is in the works. This will ensure personalized information will not be lost if a device has to be reset or transferred to a new device. Secondly, it will maximize the study time across multiple platforms. You can study part of a topic at home on your computer and later pick it up while waiting for an appointment or sitting at church.
One other feature we hope to implement later this year is the ability to add personal documents. This could be useful for adding items like patriarchal blessings, study schedules, or other material that can enhance your study. Stay tuned for progress and other future updates.
Are there any plans for the Android tablets?
The other exciting development is compatibility with Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) devices. We have made some initial efforts to maximize the use of the larger screens on devices such as the Motorola Xoom, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and the T-Mobile G-Slate. Future enhancements will address other interface and usability features with these larger devices.
How does development for the Android Gospel Library differ from development for iOS?
A big difference between development for Android and iOS is the number of devices used by each operating system. Android has dozens of devices made by numerous manufactures, and our apps have to be stable on all of them. iOS has just two devices, the iPhone and iPad.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced on this project?
Developing an Android app can be difficult, but it is challenging us to develop a more robust app. One of the biggest challenges has been re-engineering the application. It has required very skilled developers to make the changes. Many of the community members joined the project in the hopes of learning more about developing apps for Android, but their skill level wasn’t at the level we needed. As a project team we have recognized this challenge and hope to provide more opportunities for community members to learn about Android development by working in a team-oriented environment.
What are some of the highlight moments for you on this project?
The Gospel Library has been a huge success with over 230,000 downloads and over 210,000 active installations. The app has maintained nearly a five-star rating on the Android Market.
One of the roles I fill as the project manager is answering e-mails that ask for help with an application. At times it can be quite overwhelming. However, occasionally people send an e-mail thanking us for the work we do, and telling us how much of a blessing the Gospel Library is in their lives.
I volunteered for the project manager position when I was out of work and needed something positive to focus on.
What needs does your project have right now?
The project continues to need skilled Android developers. As mentioned above, we have many people that want to participate, but we need people who have solid experience developing apps for Android and are willing to share that experience to help develop others.
If you would like to get involved in the Android Gospel Library and Android LDS Tools projects, sign in with your LDS Account in the sidebar, and then click Projects at the top. From the Projects subtab, scroll down and click Gospel Library for Android or LDSTools for Android in the left column. Then click Join.