Listen to a preview of John 4 Read by all four Dwell voices:
Listen to a preview of the background music you'll hear:
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Up until the 19th century, hearing was the primary way Christians took in Scripture. Since then, reading has dominated Christians’ experience with the Bible, and for good reason. But have we not lost something over time as we stopped listening? Dwell was born from the conviction that the ancient practice of listening to Scripture is well worth reclaiming today.
We experience the Scripture in a different way when we hear it versus when we read it. Our default tendency, when we read the Bible is to study it, we want to break it down, make connections, understand the context. We want to get something out of it.
When we listen to the Bible, we have to leave all that behind. There’s no underlining, no cross-referencing, and no flipping back and forth. When we listen, we're not trying to get something out of it, we're trying to get into it.
Have you noticed? There isn’t a great way to listen to Scripture. This is odd, seeing that there are a plethora of Bible reading apps available for download through your app store of choice. Now it's true, you can download the Bible to your phone in the form of an audiobook, but how do you navigate a library of 66 books in a single file? And, yes, there are some Bible reading apps that have a listening component built into them, but when it comes down to it, they're really designed for reading. So the question we’ve been asking for quite a while is this: Why doesn’t there exist a beautiful Bible app that’s exclusively devoted to listening to the Scriptures?
Enter Dwell: A new Scripture listening app that's mission is to help you cultivate a habit of listening to the most important book in history: the Bible.
We have commissioned four new and original audio recordings of the Bible. When we began auditioning, we weren’t looking for big, booming radio voices, we were searching for storytellers that loved the Bible. Out of 150 auditions, we found four that were truly unique.
Listen to some of the voices you will hear in the app:
The greatest dilemma former audio Bibles faced was navigation. The best a CD or cassette tape could do is get you to a particular book, but navigating to a specific chapter, or even verse was next-to-impossible. The wonders of web and app engineering, however, solve this problem, allowing the Bible to be parsed out verse-by-verse. This means we can now create all kinds of interesting ways for you to explore the Scriptures.
Enjoy original in-app music by Steinway artist & composer Chad Lawson. You’ll love the relaxed approach. It’s tailor-made for listening to scripture because it doesn’t distract, it instead draws you in. Of course, listen without music also.
Listen to a preview:
Like listening, art was another primary way Christians took in Scripture throughout the centuries. And like music, Artwork can also draw us into the text more deeply, providing a visual to the audible. We’ve created original artwork for Dwell, illustrating Scripture in interesting and evocative ways.
1. Change voices while you listen:
2. Change or mute the music:
3. Favorite verses for memorization for quick access later:
4. See the verses you're listening to with just a tap:
You might be wondering why the app comes in the form of a subscription? It’s a good question. The first thing to say is that there will certainly be a free version of the app. Our heart is to get people to engage with the Bible in audio form, so we’re making the app and at least one voice available to everyone free of charge. If you enjoy your experience, we would love to invite you to consider signing up for a subscription to be able to access all the voices, all app features, and interruption-free listening.
Okay, now back to “why a subscription?”. The reason is simple. We will be adding new books of the Bible, and other engaging audio content every single month. Keep in mind, we’re only launching with the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs; we still have Genesis through Malachi to record, edit, master, and upload—four times! Your monthly subscription will go towards helping us launch those books and other interesting audio content like commentaries, and excerpts from the rich spiritual classics of the faith. We plan to add many more voices, languages and translations of the Bible to the app on an ongoing basis. And, obviously, it will also help us keep adding new development features like memorization, social engagement and more, not to mention the overall maintenance of the app itself.
1. The Recordings
The workflow for recording audio for Scripture requires the involvement of many people and progresses through many stages. First and foremost, our producer preps the voice for what he or she will be reading during their session. Once everything is set, the producer hits record and the voice talent begins reading. During the recording, the producer is primarily concerned with maintaining the integrity of the text. It's vital that not a single word be missed or added. The producer also ensures the proper cadences and pronunciations for difficult words or phrases. Once the recording is complete, the editor receives the audio; he has the tedious job of removing any unwanted noises like mistakes, accidental taps, and heavy breathing. Once he is finished, the audio goes through a final round of quality control. A separate person reviews the audio, doublechecks for text accuracy and overall quality. If a word is missing, pronounced wrongly, or not read quite right, pickups are scheduled. If everything sounds good, the audio is then mastered by the editor and uploaded to our servers for you to begin listening to! It’s a long, arduous process from page to ear, but when you’re handling Holy Writ, thoroughness is everything.
2. App Development
The development process for Dwell includes two primary components: The Audio Management Pipeline, which handles the server-side aspect of storing and delivering the audio, and the Dwell Mobile App, which is the code that actually runs on your mobile device.
Development of the Audio Pipeline starts with designing the fundamental data structures that will be used to represent the audio data: Bible books and chapters, playlists, master recordings, users, etc. Then, we create the tools that will take the audio from our master recordings and split them up into verses, playlists, passages, and stories. From there, we build the user interface for adding artwork and metadata to be delivered to the app when a playlist, passage, or story is requested. Finally, we build the user account management functionality, including subscription management.
For the Dwell Mobile App itself, we start with building a scaffolding of the basic views that you will see in the app (Home, Playlists, etc.). From there we build the underlying Audio Player, which handles layering the foreground and background audio, interacting with lock-screen controls, airplay, etc. Next is fetching the data from the Audio Pipeline so that you can see the available playlists, passages, stories, etc., and choose which available voices to listen to. The final piece will be user account management including subscription management. As we move through the Dwell App development process, each screen and interaction is carefully reviewed, tested, and refined until we have a pixel-perfect and delightful app that we can share with the world.
We’ve been in the faith-based space for 12 years now and love it. Our driving passion is to build companies and products that help advance the kingdom of God. We began our journey in 2006 when started our first company (gracewaymedia.com). Graceway comes alongside pastors and helps provide a visual complement to whatever it is their preaching on a given Sunday. We were blessed with an opportunity to sell that business in 2012, and immediately began work on a new company (lightstock.com). It’s geared towards helping faith-based designers and artists tell better stories through the use of professional faith-focused stock resources. Today, it’s a thriving platform that sees thousands of downloads every month.
For the last ten years, we have had this idea for a beautiful, easy-to-use, scripture listening app in the back of our heads. Mainly, we wanted an app like this for ourselves. For the longest time, we figured someone else would build it because, in a world of smartphone dominance, it feels like such a no-brainer. In 2016, we finally found ourselves with the freedom to go out and tackle it.
Since then, we’ve been going slow, building a team, recording audio, and doing development work as resources have allowed. When we told the world what we were up to last September we were shocked by the response. In a three-week period, we had over 7,000 people express interest in Dwell! This gave us a boost of confidence and validated the need for an app like this. We cannot wait to bring this app into existence!
Risks and challenges
The thing with risks is if you don’t ever take one, you’ll never know what could have been. This project is certainly a risk in regard to time, money, and energy, but we believe it’s one well-worth taking. This is a project we’re very passionate about. We believe an app like Dwell should exist, and we’re willing to see it through.
If we don’t meet our minimum raise, it will be next-to-impossible to launch Dwell in May/June of this year, but we won’t let this project die. We will find another way to get it out there, even if it takes six months to a year longer to launch.
The challenges surrounding this project are larger than we imagined when we first began. We’re recording the Bible four times so obviously, that’s a gargantuan task! But the quality of development we’re seeking for this project makes the technical side a sizable challenge as well. Plus, projects, big and small, change and grow as you get into the nitty-gritty of it. We are pushing hard to wrap up all of the audio for launch (New Testament, Proverbs & Psalms recorded in four unique voices).
The quality of app development is very important to us. Often times you run up against less-than-desirable technology in the faith-based space. We are passionate about counteracting this. Getting a beautiful and professional app out on time will require extra developers to come alongside our core team.
Because our team is small we don’t have access to unlimited resources to pour into this project, so setbacks are possible. From API and OS changes to late-surfacing bugs and the complexities of managing an audio pipeline, there are many areas where things could be delayed. We do have extensive app development experience, including audio-based apps, so we’re confident in our ability to push through any roadblocks, but software development is by its nature unpredictable, and patience may be required as we endeavor to deliver a top-quality product.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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