Although eBooks are great you give up a lot when it comes to formatting. That's why I think Adobe PDFs are a better alternative for content rich documents. The problem is that although the iPad and iPhone both support PDFs natively, they don't have a built-in dedicated PDF viewer. Sure you can view PDF email attachments and PDFs in Safari on the web, but what if you just want to load up a bunch of PDFs on your device and view them whenever you need to? That's where an App like ReaddleDocs comes in. Now of course ReaddleDocs is not the first App of this type I've reviewed and quite frankly I wasn't even sure that I wanted to take a look at yet another one. However, I'm glad I did because I'm very impressed by what I've seen so far. My goal is to have all of my reference manuals for my photography gear in PDF on my iPad. The beauty of this is that the equipment manufacturers already provide downloadable PDFs of their manuals online. So I have them already. Now it's just a matter of choosing the ultimate "Best App" for carrying them around and viewing them as needed. So the things that are important to me are ease and flexibility of getting the PDFs onto the iPad and into the App. I want to be able to do keyword searches. If the PDF has bookmarks (a table of contents), then I want to be able to pull it up and tap to goto a section that I want to read. Also since I help out other people from time to time, it would be great to be able to select text in the PDF and copy and paste it into an email to send to someone. 

ReaddleDocs does everything I want

I wouldn't even be reviewing this App if it didn't nail everything I want or at least 90% of it, so YES! ReaddleDocs does a great job matching features up against my requrements. First you can load PDFs into the App/iPad either via iTunes and a USB cable or via WiFi. Once the PDFs are on your iPad you can choose them from the list and view them. I really like how uncluttered the user interface (UI) is compared to other Apps in this category and I really like the scroll knob on the right side to quickly scroll through the pages. It's very unobtrusive. Yes, there is a search feature (a must have for me) and yes you can view the Bookmarks and tap to go to a chapter. You can even add your own bookmarks. So if there is a particular page that you are constantly going to you can bookmark it yourself to make it easy to jump to from here on out. Another cool feature that makes me love this App is that you can configure it with your email account info and it can pull in PDF email attachments that you've received. 

Turning pages – One thing about these apps that always throws me is that I expect be able to flip the pages left to right. However, they act more like your computer and you "scroll" or flick up and down. This is not necessarily a bad thing in the App, but it's just not the behavior my brain expects.

Other document support - Just like the iPad itself ReaddleDocs can view Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents as well as iWork documents. 

Video Support! – A nice surprise. When I connected to my iDisk, I saw a video there in the App so of course I tapped it. It seemed to download the video as it took a couple of minutes and there was a progress bar. The next thing you know my .MP4 was playing. Sure enough when I went back to the documents list I now have a "Movies" section with one movie in it. Speaking of which another feature I like is that you can enable a Password via the settings. This is great for people who are carrying sensitive documents around that they don't want just anyone who picks up their iPad to be able to view.

Although the App is GREAT and definitely serves the bulk of my needs I am slightly disappointed in a couple of areas. Copying text is possible, but it wasn't obvious to me. I had to ask the developer. Instead of tapping to bring up the selection function you actually choose "Copy to clipboard" from the Share menu first. Then it will display a selection rectangle for you to choose the area you want to copy. It works great, just not the UI I expected. The next thing that all of these 3rd Party Readers suffer from is that they don't quite offer "full" PDF support. In other words although PDF is an open standard, Apple doesn't fully implement all of its features on their devices or Mac OS X. So for example, if you have PDF with form fields and that PDF has data in those fields, that data will NOT show up on screen in ReaddleDocs. So I imagine that Readdle Docs is using the built-in PDF render engine, which has always lacked this function. Lastly, although you can grab PDFs from your email accounts (very cool), MS Exchange email support isn't offered. On the plus side: in addition to grabbing document attachments ReaddleDocs can also grab PDFs from your MobileMe iDisk, Dropbox, GoogleDocs and others as well as any WebDAV server.

 

The Bottom Line

If you're looking for a GREAT PDF viewer, this is it! Is it the best one? Hmmm, I'd have to say of the ones I've tried to date… YES! Why? Because I like the UI better than the others that are out there.

 

You can get ReaddleDocs for iPad here from the App Store. You can also get the iPhone/iPod touch version here.