Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Android Theology App - Review

IT'S HERE! Well it's been here for a while, but I hadn't had time to review it till now. So here we go.

So what is it?

The Theology Program is an offering of Credo House Ministries. Here is their description.
Most simply put, The Theology Program (TTP) is on a mission to reclaim the mind for Christ by equipping people, churches, and pastors, to understand and articulate the Christian faith.

A few years ago, I listened to the free audio of all sixty lessons, and was greatly blessed by it. There is a depth of information here, taught with such clarity and compassion that you simply won't find in many other programs. As you can tell, I'm always ready to recommend this resource to any who wish to know more about their faith and how to present it.

The only problem I've had with the program is the cost. Not that it's not worth every penny, but that I've not been blessed in such a way to afford it. Until now!

The Theology App brings all the features of the program to your Android phone. For $6.99, this is what you get.
The program consists of 60 hours of theological training, more than 1,800 slides and more than 1,200 workbook pages. Basically an entire seminary in one app!
The App

So how well does it work? I'll begin with the bad news, even though it breaks my heart to have anything bad to say, I must be honest. The first thing I encountered was that the videos wouldn't play. The videos themselves aren't downloaded in the app. They are streamed from the servers they are stored on. Every time I tried, I was met with an error stating Invalid Progressive Playback. To make matters worse, I sent an email to the address listed in the App description from the Android Market, and never received a response. I waited a week or so and then posted a comment on the Market page. Still nothing. There are a few more responses now, all with the same problem and I don't believe it has ever been addressed. This is very disappointing. So be fore warned, you may not be able to view the videos on this app.

No Videos!

Put the stones down. There is another way. Just use your phone's browser to got to The Theology Program home page. From there you can select and view all of the videos. Since none of the videos are actually downloaded with the app, this isn't much different then it would be anyway. Regardless of how you view them, you will want to have a large or unlimited data plan. WiFi would be the best option if it is available.

If you follow this blog you will have noticed that I recently installed Serendipity VII, a gingerbread ROM, on my Samsung Captivate. The videos will now play on my phone. My uneducated guess, is that they can only be played on devices running gingerbread. The app requirements state android 1.6 or higher, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

So is it still worth it?

Yes, and let me tell you why. The first concern I had about the Theology app, was the usability. Even if you could watch the videos, how can you view the slides or the workbook pages at the same time? Would a workbook on a phone even be worth having?

I found a solution! View the workbooks and slides on your computer using Google Docs.

After the splash screen you end up on a page with links at the top to the different features.

  • Press an option such as workbook or slides. 
  • Then chose an area of study, Introduction to Theology for example. 
  • Select one of the ten sessions. 
  • A dialog will pop up asking you to chose a program to complete the action. The choices will include any installed browsers and the Google Docs app if you have it. I have found that Dolphin HD works well for this.
  • The workbook will now open in the mobile Google docs site. Press the link at the bottom of the page to switch to Desktop view.

You will get a warning stating that your browser doesn't support all the features of the desktop version. Just click continue.

Now the workbook will be opened in the desktop version of Google docs. At the top of the page will be a button to save in Google Docs, press it. Now the entire workbook will be saved and viewable on your desk or laptop computer at a much more comfortable size. Just log in to your Google account, go to Docs, and there she will be.

This is sweet! The only problem is that it is time consuming. There are six studies with ten sessions each, so that is sixty workbooks. Then you have to repeat the whole process again for the sixty sessions of slides. It is a pain, but once everything is saved, you have access to it from your phone or computer.

Having these resources available on your computer makes them much easier to read and use.

The Bottom Line

The Theology Program is a great value at full price, and to get all the features at 99% off is a steal.

The question is, should you get the app? I would have to say the app is definitely worth having. This is a tremendous resource for only $6.99. Just know what you're getting in to. Videos may or may not play within the app itself, but can be played from the website.

The feature that puts this over the top, is the ability to save the workbooks and slides to Google Docs. There they are full-sized and accessible.

If you have been wanting to purchase The Theology Program, but cost has been an inhibitor, this is your chance to get all goodness, at a price you can afford.
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