There is no shortage of Bible apps in the market, each one chock full of pretty much any feature you can think of. But what if you’re not looking for all the bells and whistles? My search for a simple Bible app started when my grandmother got her first iPad. I went on a search for the best Bible app for the elderly. While that is the focus for this blog post, this is also applicable to anyone looking for a simple, no-fuss Bible app.
After running a series of tests, I’ve determined that the best Bible app for the elderly is the ESV Bible app (Click to view on Apple or Android). This app is simple to use, light on features, and has adjustable text size and display settings. Navigation is fast and simple, and it comes with a full audio Bible. There are simple features, such as notes and highlights, and scalable options for those looking for a bit more. Its universal appeal and word-for-word translation is approachable and familiar while still maintaining smooth and eloquent English.
To see the criteria I was looking for to determine which Bible app would be the best for the elderly, and to read my “honorable mentions,” keep reading!
Criteria For Determining the Best Bible App for the Elderly
When I set out to find the best Bible app available for older generations, I was looking for very specific features. The ESV Bible app was the only app I found that hit the nail on the head for each and every feature.
- Adjustable display settings
- Audio options
The first characteristic I was looking for in a Bible app for the elderly was simplicity. I wanted to find an app that was easy to use with as few features as possible. The ESV Bible app nailed this requirement, as it’s one of the most stripped-back Bible applications out there.
When you first open the app, you’re immediately brought to the Bible. There’s no welcome screen, there’s no startup menu. Just the Bible. It picks up right where you left off the last time.
Tapping the screen brings up the menu. From here there are only five buttons at the bottom of the screen. From here, you can access your profile settings, your reading plans, additional resources, the audio Bible, and display settings.
To navigate the Bible, simply click the book and chapter title at the top of the screen. This will show you all the books of the Bible, which will then show you all the chapters of that book.
You can also perform simple searches by clicking on the magnifying glass at the top of the screen.
Highlighting a verse allows you to take notes , highlight, bookmark, add the verse to your favorites, share the verse in your operating system’s context menu, and copy the verse to your clipboard.
And that’s basically it. That’s all the features you’ll find in this app. The icons are clean and basic. Everything is minimalist and simplistic. And since it’s the ESV’s Bible app, there aren’t multiple translations for you to mess with.
While other Bibles are full of many different features, with tons of resources and media, the ESV Bible app does a great job of getting out of the way and just giving you a quick and simple way to have an encounter with scripture. It’s a beautiful app that’s easy on the eyes and doesn’t require a steep learning curve to get started making it the perfect Bible app for the elderly.
Flexible Display Settings
When you open up the display settings, you’ll find a few details that you can customize. Most importantly, you can change the font size to “Extra Large,” making the text large and easy to read. But you can also adjust the color of the screen (white, sepia, and night), the font style, and the way the text looks on the screen. For instance, you can turn on “One Verse Per Line,” which spreads the text out a little bit, making it even easier to read. You can also turn vertical scrolling off, making the app work more like a digital book. Simply swipe left or right to turn the page.
One of my favorite settings is “Reader’s Mode,” which turns off the verse references and allows you to just read the text without worrying where the verse breaks begin and end. Some of my favorite print Bibles are those single column reading editions that remind you that you’re reading a literary work of art. This little feature helps bring that to your phone as well.
All these display options can help you completely customize your experience reading the Bible on your phone. The goal, again, is for the app to get out of the way. While other apps want to remind you that you’re using their app, the ESV app’s goal is to get you to forget that you’re using their app. This flexibility allows you to fine tune your experience to make the scriptures as accessible as possible on your mobile device.
For many people, reading on a screen for an extended period of time is just out of the question. That’s why I made one of the requirements in my search an included audio Bible. While most Bible apps do have audio Bibles included, the ESV’s audio bible is by far one of the simplest to use. All you have to do is click the speaker at the bottom of your screen.
Once the audio Bible opens and you click the play button, the narrator will start reading from the start of the chapter where you’re currently reading. You can change the speed of the voice and even enable tracking, so that the app automatically scrolls through the text alongside the narration. Now you can sit back, close your eyes, and listen to the scriptures. When you’re ready to engage with the text again, the app will have kept up with the narrator’s voice, so you can jump right back in where you left off.
The included audio Bible just gives you more flexibility in how you approach the text. It makes the app much more accessible. And in such a simple and streamlined application, it’s great to see how many options are available to you.
One feature I included in my search was scalability. I wanted to find an app that was simple enough for anyone to use right off the bat. But I also wanted something that could grow with the user. When someone gets comfortable using the ESV application, they can always add more resources from Crossway.
The amount of resources you get for free in this application is absolutely incredible. Just for being a member of Crossway’s free loyalty program, you get access to the ESV study Bible. This alone is an incredible value, but also have access to many other study Bibles, devotionals, and Bible study programs. Did I mention all of this was for free? I believe this option alone makes the ESV application one of the best Bible apps for anyone, not just for older generations. Anyone can benefit from the amount of resources available on this simple application.
When it comes to finding a minimalist Bible app with as few features and Bible versions as possible, I wanted to keep my search as general and universal as possible. I didn’t want to focus on one religious tradition. And if I had to pick one version to appeal to a variety of readers, denominations, and age groups, I would choose the ESV.
Its formal-equivalence translation theory is familiar to anyone used to using older versions like the KJV. But it’s still written in beautiful English, making it easy to read compared to other word-for-word translations. Its accuracy is, in my opinion, unparalleled by most other translations. This is a translation that can appeal to a wide range of people, making the ESV app the perfect Bible app for simplifying into one translation.
For all these reasons, I believe the ESV Bible application is the best Bible app out there for the elderly. It’s also an incredible app for just about anyone.
CSB Bible App
The CSB Bible App is much like the ESV app, in that it’s very simple and straightforward. There are a couple of reasons that this is only an honorable mention.
The main reason I didn’t go with this one is simply its lack of universality. If you prefer the CSB translation over the ESV, then this is a good alternative. But it will likely only be a handful of people from certain traditions that prefer the CSB.
There are other reasons I didn’t pick this app. It tries to be a bit fancier than the ESV app, with transitions from screen to screen that only take up time and take away from the simplicity of the app. It also lacks an audio Bible, at least at the time of this writing. With no ability for notes or highlights, and only two reading plans, there is no scalability. But that’s something that many people will be okay with.
At the end of the day, if you’re looking for an app with no additional features other than reading the Bible, then you may want to look into the CSB.
The only reason this isn’t the best app for the elderly is because it is loaded with features. There’s a lot to learn about this application in order to get the most out of it. However, it’s an honorable mention because it does have the most customizable display settings of all the Bible apps I tried out. You can change the font on pretty much any screen, not just the font of the scriptures. And you have a lot more font customization available.
Another cool feature about Olive Tree is you can set up gestures for certain actions, so you can double-tap the screen or drag your finger across the screen to accomplish certain tasks. It definitely has more of a learning curve, but for someone a bit more tech-savvy, or for someone with people who can help set the app up, this could be a very nice app.
While it does have an incredible amount of scalability, it’s not as great a value as the ESV app. With the ESV app, you can have a ton of study Bible resources for free. With the Olive Tree app, you can get a ton more resources from publishers other than Crossway. But you will have to pay for most of these resources.
Was there an app I missed? Is there another Bible app that you think would be better suited for an older person? Do you have any experience with the ESV Bible? Let us know in the comments below! Your comment just might help someone else out!