Ever since I became a happy iPad owner, I've been on the lookout for an app that could approximate the same PDF reading, annotating, and markup features I've become accustomed to on my Mac. I've tried a lot, and found some come close, but until PDF Expert 5, I always felt something was missing.
Readdle's PDF Expert 5 ($9.99 on the App Store) introduces some quite innovative features not seen before on iOS, and others that have never before been available at such a price point. Among the most interesting features are the ability to directly edit text in a PDF file, much like you would in a word processing document. Underlining, highlighting, shape-drawing are all there as well. The free-form editing tools are intuitive, powerful, and make PDF editing on-the-go effortless.
In our digital age many documents come to us needing a signature with a request to email them back to their sender. Some folks still print these out, sign them, scan them, and email them back. PDF Expert allows you to sign a PDF directly, either with your own stored signature or a new signature, perhaps that of a client or customer. This is the sort of workflow improvement that can save most people lots of time and hassle. A three step process (print, sign, scan) is reduced to one step: tap and hold on the screen to insert signature.
PDF Expert could be useful to share draft documents back and forth between colleagues for review, with the ability to enter comments and notes, highlight or circle portions, or suggest new text. There are a number of stamps available, such as x's and tick marks and "DRAFT", "FOR REVIEW", and so forth, as well the built-in facility to create your own stamps. A "Preview" mode shows exactly what the document will look like with your changes incorporated, whilst the "Markup" view mode shows the changes.
Filling in forms could not be easier. Where other apps only allow text entry in discrete data entry fields that have been so-designated by the form creator, PDF Expert solves the problem we've all encountered from time to time: PDF forms where the data entry field is obscured, too small, malformed, or otherwise not suitable for input. PDF Expert allows you to tap and type anywhere on the document, and you can easily adjust font and font size for entered text. If a form gives you a too-small box in which to write your name, you can easily decrease the text size till it fits, which most PDF forms do not allow you to do. PDF Expert also expertly handles standard form fields and calculations where the document has enabled such, as well as date and time entry. PDF Expert has become my go-to app for PDF form filling.
Getting documents into and out of PDF Expert is super easy. It interfaces with most major cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Box, Office 365, Skydrive, and many more. When you've got the document the way you need it for good, PDF Expert makes it easy to flatten it (apply all the form data, markups, and signatures permanently) and get the document where it needs to be. You can save a copy of the altered document, keep it stored in PDF Expert, which has full file management capabilities, email a copy, print, or open it in other supporting apps on your iPad.
Among PDF Experts neat tricks are the incorporation of audio playback of text. Have your document read to you aloud, whether its a legal brief, a report, or an ebook in PDF format. You can directly control the reading speed and designate the language of the text: many are available, including Arabic, Chinese, French, Japanese, Russian, and dozens more. I love this feature. And much like Apple's iBooks app, PDF Expert can format PDFs for viewing in either sepia or nighttime mode, which can be very useful to make long documents easier on the eyes than reading 100 pages straight of black on white.
Another neat feature is the ability to create bookmarks, and build a table of contents in your PDF documents right within PDF Expert, meaning that PDF Expert can be a very powerful editing tool to finish up documents. Pages can also be rearranged quickly and easily.
PDF Expert comes with a complete user guide, nearly 50 pages long, explaining how to use each feature, though most features are quite apparent without the need to study the documentation.
I've got a few other PDF reader-editor apps on my iPad, but after just a few weeks making PDF Expert 5 part of my workflow, the Adobe Reader app is getting awfully lonely. In summary, PDF Expert 5 brings desktop-class editing tools to a mobile app at an unparalleled price. Sure, you could spend $200 on Acrobat Pro for your computer, or you could spend $10 for probably the most-used 80% of its features that are present in PDF Expert on iOS. PDF Expert is iOS 7 compatible and has been redesigned to neatly match the iOS 7 aesthetic.
Get it here:
PDF Expert 5
Ronald C. Schoedel III is an attorney, former broadcaster, student of Welsh, and Sinophile. He has lived in Alaska, Wales, and China (Hong Kong specifically), and presently calls Utah home. He has been teaching and training Mac users for nearly a decade, and started blogging as a software reviewer in 2004.