Vyrso and Logos for the iPad

Logos has launched their new website, Vyrso.  The App has been available in the AppStore for a little while (May 5, 2011), but in the last day there has been a flurry of activity and social media marketing (like this for a chance to win an iPad, etc.)  I am a long-time Logos user, and I use the software on my laptop daily for lecture or sermon preparation.  I have an incredibly large library amassed over the years, so when I got my iPad the first App I downloaded was Logos.  The fact that my purchased books would be available on my mobile device made Logos the “killer app” which made the iPad indispensable for me.

The Vyrso App appears to be nearly the same software as the Logos App. I loaded the ESV Bible and at least on the surface, the interface is identical.  It is a very readable text with all of the e-book features you would expect.  Like most cloud-based Apps, Vyrso works best with wireless or 3G, although books can be set to “available offline.”  I think Vyrso is a bit faster than the Logos App, especially searching on text.  Like the Logos App, there is no highlighting or note-taking feature.

What makes Vyrso attractive to me is that it will read your Logos books. This means I already have a huge library “in the cloud” which I can read in Vyrso.  For example, since I own the Anchor Bible Dictionary, I loaded into Vyrso and was able to immediately search the Dictionary.  I entered Arad in the Reference Box and the article loaded in a few seconds.  Highlighted text functions example like the Logos App.  I can click on a linked article (Arad Ostraca), get a gloss for an abbreviation, or read a reference to the Bible in the text.  References function exactly like the Logos App.  I can either read the verse in a pop-up or “jump to reference” in a Bible. Again, this is all exactly like the Logos App.

There are some differences in Vyrso, especially with respect to original languages.  I opened the Nestle-Aland 27 Greek New Testament in Vyrso and highlighted a word, κόσμος in John 1:10.  Two options appear:  copy and search.  There is no “look up” tool as in the Logos App, nor is there any attempt to parse the word or give a lexical form.  The search tool found all references to the word in my library, including TDNT and EDNT.  Since Vyrso does not have an option for lexical form, searching on a dative singular of κόσμος results in only the exact form.  Since I own the Lexham Syntactical Greek New Testament, I can identify the form in the search window, but this is not ideal.  (Frankly, if you are looking up dative singular forms of κόσμος you need to spend more time with your paradigms, but that is my prejudice!)

The search is not refined at all at this point, the hits are in somewhat random order (TDNT was first, then a series of biblical references, and then EDNT). I would rather see biblical occurrences separate from other books.  I think that a “search in this book” would help as well, since I could then create a mini-concordance with the search tool.  What is more, I would like to be able to set the order of books searched, something like the “keylink” feature in the desktop version of Logos.

I also loaded Biblica Hebraica Stuttgartensia, with Westminster 4.2 Morphology. The text is readable, but I do not like the “each verse on a new line” look.  I would much rather see the text arranged by paragraph, like the printed page.  The search function is less useful in Hebrew, since lexical forms are more important for Hebrew words.  For example, searching on ברא in Gen 1:1 yields good results, but the Qal Imperfect form of אמר in verse 3 does not really result in useful information.

I think that these problems are simply a result of the fact that Vyrso is not intended to be an original language tool.  For reading English books, Vyrso is excellent, but differs little from Logos.  When the Vyrso Store launches Logos promises a huge number of books not currently available in Logos.  As one of the early reviewers at the AppStore asked, “what is the point of this app”?  It is a slightly lighter version of the Logos App which will be a platform for many people to access Christian books.  If you are going to work with Greek and Hebrew, stick with Logos. Vyrso is a good eBook reader which takes advantage of the already formidable Logos library.

I look forward to seeing what the Logos will do with the Vyrso store in the future.