If you work with documents, you are probably awash in Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF) files, so one of the first apps to install on your iPad is a good PDF Reader. The list of Adobe Reader apps for the iPad is ever growing.
Even better news is that Retina Display support is dropping on some of the readers I profile in this post making the iPad even more attractive for reading PDFs. App developers are also using the latest iPad’s launch to crush bugs and tighten up user interfaces which only adds to the good news.
While you can read PDFs through iBooks, there are many great (even business class) options available for viewing and even annotating PDFs on your iPad including:
GoodReader. This is the first PDF Reader I ever tried out on my iPad; it packs too many options and features into its user interface. Besides PDF files, GoodReader also support TXT files, Microsoft Office (.doc, .ppt, .xls), iWork(’08/’09), HTML and Safari web archives, and multimedia (images, audio, and video). It also lets you annotate PDFS with text boxes, comments, text highlights, strikeouts, insertion marks, and all sorts of freehand drawings. File transfer options include USB cable or Wi-Fi connection and integration with iDisk, Google Docs, Dropbox, SugarSync, Box.net and other WebDAV, and FTP servers. I give GoodReader props for its flexibility but find it a bit difficult to use because of its cluttered interface.
IAnnotate PDF. If you want to review PDF documents on your iPad, then run don’t walk to check out iAnnotate PDF, an upgrade to iReadPDF. Besides the features in iReadPDF, it packs in annotation tools like notes, drawing, highlighter, and selectable text (adding and striking text). The annotation features are much easier to use than those in GoodReader. Currently, it’s my PDF reader of choice because I also use it to review PDF documents.
Adobe Reader. Not to be outdone in PDF readers for the iOS is Adobe with their own Adobe Reader for iOS. It’s a slick little reader with some power under the hood including Bookmark navigation, Views (Continuous, Single Page, and Automatic), and a Documents list cataloging the PDFs available on your iPad. Adobe Reader is free from the App Store and worth a look if you want a PDF reader on your iPad that is slick and fast.
CreatePDF. Another Adobe offering is CreatePDF, which adds PDF creation abilities to their Adobe Reader. It works like a cut down version of the full Adobe Acrobat application and preserves the formatting of documents including links, endnotes, footnotes and automatically create bookmarks in Microsoft Office documents converted to PDF. CreatePDF supports conversion from major file formats including Microsoft Word (docx, doc), Excel (xlsx, xls), PowerPoint (pptx, ppt), Rich Text Format (rtf), Text (txt) and WordPerfect (wpd), and OpenOffice (odf, odt, odp, ods).
FastPDF+. If you are looking at options to use your iPad into a work portfolio then FastPDF+ is worth a look because it organizes your PDF documents in a bookshelf (sortable with your finger). It lets you read PDFs in either portrait or landscape mode. My first experience with FastPDF+ exposed me to the kludgey process that is transfer documents with iTunes so I later settled on just opening them from the iPad mail client into FastPDF+.
Evernote. While being a capable note taking app in its own right, Evernote in recent months has become the PDF reader of choice on my iPad since I store much of my project research in Evernote. The Premium version of Evernote allows you to store up to 1 GB of documents in the cloud every month. Reading PDFs is as easy as tapping on the attachment and reading the PDF using Evernote’s integrated file viewer. While the Evernote reader lacks some of the sophisticated tools of the other Reader apps in this post it is very convenient to store and read PDFs from the Evernote app directly especially for those like me who capture a lot of research for professional and personal projects.
There is an Adobe Reader for every iPad use case including a number of free offerings which is always good to help users