The Daily App: PDF Expert -- More Than Just a Doc Reader
PDF Expert brings the functionality of the desktop document reader to mobile devices, justifying its hefty price tag for serious business users.
Some mundane computing tasks, like opening and creating PDFs, surprisingly don't have easy solutions when it comes to mobile devices, particularly on iPhones and iPads. Apple founder Steve Jobs famously maintained an antipathy against older Web standards like Flash -- and arguably against Adobe technology in general -- but those formats still maintain a strong foothold in the larger Internet landscape, making it crucial for smartphones and tablets to play nice with them.
With more businesses relying on mobile devices in their overall operations, apps like PDF Expert aim to bridge the gap, making it easier to create, edit and open PDF-format documents with almost as much functionality as found on a computer.
What's the App?
PDF Expert, created by Readdle and available for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad for $10, is a comprehensive software solution to nearly all things PDF for your mobile device. It allows users to read, annotate, edit and save PDFs directly on their phones or tablets while keeping them compatible with desktop software like Adobe Acrobat. The app is one of the best in its class, coming closest to simulating the functionality found on a desktop solution, packed with features and taking advantage of mobile devices' ease.
The PDF reader is one of the best I've worked with on an Apple device -- it has no problem opening up large files, supports full-text search for when you're hunting down specific information, opens up links within the document and even plays embedded video within PDFs, all without crashing devices. Its navigation within documents is fantastic, letting you go directly to a page or find text with speed and minimal effort.
For those who edit PDFs, the functionality is equally robust, and its simple, clean interface makes it easy to format text, add notes to PDF text and highlight and copy-and-paste within documents and format text. Users can even create audio comments to PDFs, as well as easily e-mail and share their revisions and notes with others. As an added bonus, users can even fill in PDF forms and sign within the app.
One of the real strengths of PDF Expert, however, is how well it integrates and pulls documents from other apps and software, making it a truly useful component in a larger suite of productivity tools. The app syncs with iTunes, iDisk, Dropbox, Google Docs and other storage solutions, as well as FTP servers. However, it does not yet seem to support iCloud functionality.
The app can also set up a server on your mobile device, so it can wirelessly sync up with the hard drive on a Mac or PC, a feature that may appeal to power users who work with documents often, as well as businesses. The instructions to do this are in-app and easy to follow as well, making a potentially sticky task much simpler to do.
Beyond PDFs, PDF Expert can actually read and edit other formats, such as iWork documents, Microsoft Office files, text files as well as Powerpoint presentations -- an added bonus that expands PDF Expert's capabilities as an overall file management system.
You'll Want It If...
This app is a godsend for users or businesses that work with documents as a crucial part of their workflow. The PDF format evolved in part due to its cross-platform nature, making it easy to share documents no matter what computer or OS was used. As a result, PDFs still retain their crucial role in many businesses and industries. PDF Expert is one of the best one-stop document solutions for Apple mobile devices in the market, and businesses who need both on-the-go access to documents as well as the ability to work anytime and anywhere should take note, though the $10 app price could make buying enough copies for employees an expensive proposition.
It's Not My Thing, What Else Ya Got?
The price tag is eyebrow-raising in an app market where low prices are the norm, and will likely be the largest deterrent for prospective users. (Readdle would do well to create a free version to entice these users, or at least offer a trial period.) Price-conscious users could find GoodReader a fine substitute -- at $5, it's much cheaper and offers a robust amount of features, though it doesn't have PDF Expert's ability to work with PDF forms.
PDF Reader Pro, for $3, also features similar functionality as PDF Expert (and in fact allows users to scan documents to create into PDFs -- something that PDF Expert doesn't do.) But some reviewers have noted the sometimes sludgy performance of the app, a marked contrast to PDF Expert's superior speed.
Some tout iAnnotate as a strong competitor to PDF Expert as well, featuring the ability to work with multiple files at once, but at $10, it's equally as expensive as PDF Expert, and its interface feels less intuitive than PDF Expert's, though it offers more customization possibilities.
For those who just want to read PDFs and don't need the ability to edit and make notes in them, both Dropbox and iBooks are fine solutions. ♦
Categories: Business | The Daily App