Over a year ago, I wrote about a product by Aji, LLC, iRead PDF. At the time, this sweet little free PDF reader, along with its sister product iAnnotate, were the only iPad apps that used tabbed viewing to navigate through open documents. Aji LLC understood early on the importance of using tabs instead of having you open/close documents to get from one to the other. Easier to use and the options of having more than one file open at a time was priceless, especially to my teaching workflow.

Shortly, after my iRead PDF review, I switched over to the full-featured iAnnotate PDF, because I realized that I also wanted to (pardon the pun) annotate my PDF files on my iPad. I’ve been happily using it ever since. iRead PDF has since been discontinued.

Timing is everything and in the past year, iAnnotate PDF has seen two major revisions that have made it an even more indispensable app to use. How important is this app to me? Well, it’s on the first page of my iPad and not in a folder.

Just this month, one of those major updates occurred. The entire UI was updated, so I had to discard the images that I was going to use for this article. But, I forgive them. :)

So, let’s take a look at some of the many features iAnnotate PDF has to offer. Let’s start with the feature that won me over, tabbed viewing. As many as eight tabs can be open at one time. The reason I say tabs and not documents is because any one of those tabs can be additional views of one document. This is great so that I don’t have to flip through a long document to get from one desired page to another.

The iAnnotate interface allows quick access to pages in the Navigation Panel by:

Document thumbnails

Document Table of Contents

Markup Annotations

Search Criteria

The Navigation Panel is accessed by a swipe to the small drawer pull at the left middle edge of the UI. Faster than the previous flow of clicking on a small icon the top left of the screen.

A multitude of Tools are accessed by swiping a small drawer pull at the right middle edge of the UI. You can add as many Tools or Toolbars as you like (double arrow icon at bottom of Toolbar) and show or hide them with just a swipe.

Previously, in a few cases, having many Tools on the screen would get in the way while working with the files, this new change takes all of that way.

The Tools used to display in full color, but now only colorize when they are selected. I didn’t think that I would like this. It feels too much like the Lion UI with its monotone look of the Sidebar, which I’m not a fan of. But, I found this pleasing with iAnnotate. They seem to have found the right balance of monotone/color to keep the focus on task.

When a Tool is selected, a tooltip panel also displays a description and other attributes of the selected Tool. Depending on what Tool you are using with text, you may even see a magnification glass display on the document.

In addition to marking up the document pages with features such as highlighting, bookmarks, stamps, lines, quick document navigation, shapes, callouts, text; you can delete pages or even add blank pages to the open PDF. You can add photos (existing or taken with the iPad camera) and audio clips. I hope creating or adding movie files are next. See the accompanying “All Tools” image to see other features not listed here.

An annotation like a signature created with the pencil tool can be turned into a custom stamp, directly within iAnnotate, to use over and over again. I can also connect my iPad to a projector and place iAnnotate in presentation mode to work in real-time during a training session.

In the Library Panel files can be sorted into appropriate folders and files filtered when searching for documents. The accompanying images will give you insight to some of the other features available while in the Library Panel.

Getting files into iAnnotate is relatively easy.

Web download

iTunes

Dropbox

And Aji PDF Service

While I have used Dropbox and Web download for getting documents, I’ve exclusively used Aji PDF Service (a free app for your computer) for processing my PDF files into iAnnotate. Files I typically transfer to my iPad are book size and going through AjI PDF service processed them better and just seemed easier. But I understand that this service will be gradually phased out for a more direct sharing service in the future.

My only feature request is that text alignment in the notation tools be set to left justified and not center justified. Or at least give the options to set which alignment we prefer. Center justified is really awkward when entering multiple lines of text.

iAnnotate is a fantastic app to use for PDF use and annotation on all levels. I find it to be indispensable to my workflow and I’m sure, once you use it, yours too.

You can get iAnnotate PDF for $9.99 here from the iTunes