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PDF Reader Review - GoodReader vs. PDF Expert

If you're using the iPad in your law practice, you have probably already used it to store, read, and otherwise work on PDF files.  Those PDF files might be caselaw, briefs or memos, or some other legal document - but they are the most ubiquitous document format, so having an app that can handle them appropriately is absolutely essential.  In this post, I'm featuring a face-off between two of my favorite apps - GoodReader and PDF Expert.  I'll cover the basics, and then weigh in with my vote on the best PDF reader of the two.

GoodReader ($4.99) is the de facto reader for just about any file you would have on your iPad, and it works especially well with PDF files.  One of the things I like best about GoodReader is that you can access documents from a multitude of sources - Dropbox, MobileMe (soon to be iCloud),, SugarSync, Google Docs, mail servers, FTP connections, and a couple of other options.  I was able to download the document below from my Dropbox directly from GoodReader, and start working on it right away.

The formatting toolbar offers a ton of options - I can enter text directly on the page, add comments, highlight, underline, or strikeout text, and draw a number of shapes - lines, arrows, circles, and boxes. 

Moving from page to page is effortless, and I can zoom in and view the text that I can't read (or I can turn it to portrait style and easily read the full page.  In addition, you can view the document as single or double pages, crop the document to get rid of big margins, and even search documents that have been OCR'd.

Once you're done working with the document, you can flatten your annotations, email the file, or print it to an AirPrint-enabled printer.  But you can also go back to the File Manager and GoodReader and upload the file directly to the location from which you downloaded it - in my case, I uploaded it directly to the same folder in Dropbox, where it replaced the original file and I could view all of my annotations on my other computers.

PDF Expert ($9.99) is a bit more expensive, but is still a terrific app.  Earlier versions of the app did not allow access to typical cloud storage sites like Dropbox, but now you can connect your PDF Expert to MobileMe, Dropbox, Sugar Sync, Google Docs, as well as FTP, SFTP, and other WebDAV servers.  PDF Expert also provides 512MB of free storage in its own Readdle Storage (my only caution here is that I don't know whether Readdle Storage connects with other apps, or it just provides storage for Readdle-developed apps like PDF Expert).

PDF Expert has the usual annotation features - comments, notes highlighting, strikeouts, etc. - actually, GoodReader may have better annotation features when it comes to the basics.  But PDF Expert easily beats GoodReader with these great features:


  • The ability to complete fillable PDF forms
  • Add stamps, including "Approved," "Draft," "Confidential," "Void" - or you can create your own custom stamp
  • Like SignMyPad, PDF Expert will allow you to sign documents.  The app can save your signature for future documents, or will accept a client or other signature on a one-off basis.

After you're done with your document, you can also upload the revised file to your Dropbox or other cloud storage service.

Now that I have to name a winner for this faceoff, I find myself conflicted.  I think that PDF Expert provides some key features that GoodReader doesn't provide (yet) - fillable forms, signatures, and stamps, among others.  But GoodReader's basic annotation features are better than PDF Expert. Although I know this faceoff is for PDF Readers, but the fact that GoodReader can read other types of documents has to give it an advantage, especially when you consider that you're paying only $4.99 for GoodReader, versus $9.99 for PDF Expert.

So I guess if you have to choose one app, I say go with GoodReader.  But I plan on keeping both of them, so I can use PDF Expert for those times when I need to fill forms or sign documents - unless GoodReader catches up and adds that functionality, too, I guess.



60 Apps in 60 Minutes - The Apps

As promised, here's the list of the apps that were mentioned in Wednesday's 60 iPhone and iPad Apps in 60 Minutes webcast. You'll notice there are more than 60 - the presenters mentioned a few other apps during the presentation, so I'm including them, too.

  1. Black's Law Dictionary - the venerable legal reference ($54.99) Black's Law Dictionary, 9th Edition - West, a Thomson Reuters business
  2. Book of Jargon - Corporate and Bank Finance version (free) The Book of Jargon™ - Corporate and Bank Finance - Latham & Watkins LLP
  3. Calvetica Calendar - new, cleaner way to view your calendar ($2.99) Calvetica Calendar - Mysterious Trousers, LLC
  4. Agenda - another clean calendar app for iPhone ($1.99) Agenda Calendar - App Savvy
  5. Atomic Web Browser - great browser alternative to Safari ($.99) Atomic Web Browser - Browse FullScreen w/ Download Manager & Dropbox - RichTech
  6. Skyfire Browser - browser alternative that allows you to watch some flash content, mainly videos ($2.99) Skyfire Web Browser for iPad - Skyfire Labs, Inc.
  7. Sticky Notes for iPad - make sticky notes (free) Sticky Notes for iPad - tewks
  8. Keynote - the definitive presentation tool for the iPad ($9.99) Keynote - Apple®
  9. Keynote Remote - turns your iPhone into a remote for Keynote ($.99) Keynote Remote - Apple®
  10. Penultimate - note-taking app ($1.99)Penultimate - Cocoa Box Design LLC
  11. iThoughtsHD - mind-mapping tool ($9.99) iThoughtsHD (mindmapping) - CMS
  12. Chase Mobile - deposit checks with your iPhone (free) Chase Mobile (SM) - JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  13. Citrix Receiver - remote access app (free) Citrix Receiver for iPad - Citrix Systems, Inc.
  14. LogMeIn Ignition - another remote access tool ($29.99) LogMeIn Ignition - LogMeIn, Inc.
  15. VMWare View - for those who use VMWare (free) VMware View for iPad - VMware, Inc.
  16. Food Truck Fiesta - find food trucks (D.C. only) ($.99) Food Truck Fiesta - APPease Mobile
  17. Google Translate - great voice translation app (free) Google Translate - Google
  18. Jibbigo - another good voice translation app (different versions - this is English-Spanish) ($4.99) Jibbigo English Spanish Speech Translator (for iPhone 3GS, 3rd gen iPod or newer) - Jibbigo LLC
  19. Flipboard - magazine-style news aggregator (free) Flipboard - Flipboard Inc.
  20. Zite - another great news aggregator - learns what you like (free) Zite Personalized Magazine - Zite, Inc.
  21. Instapaper - save web pages to read later ($4.99) Instapaper - Marco Arment
  22. Documents to Go Premium - view and edit Microsoft Office documents ($16.99) Documents To Go® Premium - Office Suite - DataViz, Inc.
  23. Dragon Dictation - terrific speech transcription (free) Dragon Dictation - Nuance Communications
  24. Dragon Go - search by voice (free) Dragon Go! - Nuance Communications
  25. Eye Glasses - use your camera as a magnifying glass ($2.99) Eye Glasses - Freeverse, Inc.
  26. Google Voice - free phone service (free) Google Voice - Google
  27. HootSuite - social media aggregator, for managing your Twitter account (free) HootSuite for Twitter - Hootsuite Media Inc.
  28. iCPR Full - emergency medical tool (free) iCpr Full - D-Sign
  29. Digits Calculator ($.99) Digits Calculator for iPad + iPhone - Shift
  30. PDF Expert - PDF annotator ($9.99) PDF Expert - Fill forms, annotate PDFs - Readdle
  31. SignMyPad - sign PDFs right on the iPad screen ($3.99) SignMyPad - Autriv Inc.
  32. Photogene for iPad - photo editor ($2.99) Photogene for iPad - Omer Shoor
  33. Fastcase - legal research (free, but full use requires Fastcase subscription) Fastcase - Fastcase
  34. GateGuru - provides restaurant and services info for just about any airport (free) GateGuru - featuring Airport Maps - Mobility Apps LLC
  35. Hipmunk - new way to find flights (free) Hipmunk Flight Search - Hipmunk
  36. Goodreader - excellent file reading app ($4.99) GoodReader for iPad - Good.iWare Ltd.
  37. Price Check by Amazon - compare prices (free) Price Check by Amazon - AMZN Mobile LLC
  38. Noted - note-taker (free) Noted - CignoSoft
  39. Siri - personal assistant (free) Siri Assistant - Siri
  40. Fuze Meeting HD - online meetings (free) Fuze Meeting HD - CallWave
  41. Satchel - client for Backpack service ($9.99) Satchel, the Backpack Client - Stand Alone, Inc.
  42. Plaintext - text editor/writing (free) PlainText - Dropbox text editing - Hog Bay Software
  43. Court Days Pro - date calculator ($2.99) Court Days Pro - Rules-based Calendaring for La... - Law On My Phone
  44. DaysFrom - date calculator ($.99) DaysFrom Date Calculator - QD Ideas, LLC
  45. Note Taker HD - note-taking app ($4.99) Note Taker HD - Software Garden
  46. Notes Plus - note-taking app ($4.99) Notes Plus - Handwriting, Note Taking, Shape Drawing, and Sound Recording - Viet Tran
  47. Text'nDrive Pro - listen to text messages and email ($9.99) Text'nDrive Pro - Hands Free Email Message Reader - HandsFree Software
  48. Word Lens - translation app (free) Word Lens - Quest Visual
  49. Office Bleepster - communicate with your office staff ($9.99) Office Bleepster - Peakland Innovation Group, LLC.
  50. TextExpander Touch - macro utility ($4.99) TextExpander - SmileOnMyMac, LLC
  51. TuneIn Radio Pro - listen to and record thousands of radio stations ($.99) TuneIn Radio Pro - Synsion Radio Technologies
  52. PDF Converter - save files to PDF format ($6.99) PDF Converter - Save Documents, Web Pages, Photos to PDF - Readdle
  53. Pro HDR - improved HDR photography ($1.99) Pro HDR - eyeApps LLC
  54. Skype - VOIP and video calls (free) Skype - Skype Software S.a.r.l
  55. WordPerfect Viewer - view (but not edit) WordPerfect files ($4.99) WordPerfect Viewer for the iPad - Corel Corporation
  56. - online meetings (free) - LogMeIn, Inc.
  57. JotNot Scanner Pro - scan receipts and other documents ($.99) JotNot Scanner Pro - MobiTech 3000 LLC
  58. MindMeister for iPad - mind-mapping tool ($7.99) MindMeister for iPad - MeisterLabs
  59. PhotoSync - transfer photos from iPhone to iPad ($3.99) Photo-Sync - Carsten Fels
  60. Trickle for Twitter - Twitter display ($.99) Trickle for Twitter - Caleb Thorson
  61. Reeder - RSS reader ($4.99) Reeder for iPad - Silvio Rizzi
  62. Mr. Reader - another great RSS reader ($3.99) Mr. Reader - Oliver Fürniß
  63. iMovie - edit movies ($4.99) iMovie - Apple®
  64. Localscope - find nearby businesses ($1.99) Localscope - Cynapse
  65. Atari's Greatest Hits - classic Atari games (free, but fee for individual games) Atari's Greatest Hits - Atari
  66. GoToMyPc - remote access (free) GoToMyPC (Remote Desktop) - Citrix Online
  67. TrialPad - fantastic trial presentation tool ($89.99) TrialPad - Saurian
  68. Snapseed for iPad - photo editor ($4.99) Snapseed for iPad - Nik Software, Inc.
  69. Minimal Folio - presentations ($2.99) Minimal Folio - Simon Heys

60 Apps Webcast - Answers to Attendee Questions

We had a great time presenting 60 iPhone and iPad Apps for Lawyers yesterday - the speakers offered some great apps, and we had an audience with lots of terrific questions.  We didn't have time to answer any questions during the webcast, so we all decided to post all of the answers to attendee questions online.  So here goes:

Question #1
From K.M. in Charlestown, W.V.
We are attempting to use Dropbox to save exhibits (PDF documents) in the Deponent App.  I would like to be able to have my paralegal put the exhibits into MY Dropbox account so that I can later move them into deponent app and attach them to a deposition outline.  However, my paralegal has her own Dropbox app already saved to her desktop computer and has been unable to move documents from our server onto MY Dropbox account. Is there a way to have two Dropbox accounts on my paralegal's desktop?  Or, is there a way to drop documents into Dropbox without having it on your desktop?

Answer:  You don’t need to have two separate Dropbox accounts - because you both have accounts, transferring documents is simple.  You can share any folder in your Dropbox with any other Dropbox user - to do this, just highlight the folder you want to share, right-click on it, and select Dropbox and then Share this Folder.  Type in the email address of your paralegal, and she will now have access to that folder.  You can also share folders via the web version of Dropbox, by clicking the drop-down menu next to the folder you want to share.  Once you are sharing folders, your paralegal can easily move the PDF files into the shared folder, and you can then load them into Deponent.

Question #2
From: J.H. in Baltimore, MD.
After looking at the materials, I purchased Black's Dictionary. It is uploaded into my Dropbox as a zip file, but my IPad cannot open it. How can I open it? Thanks Janet

Answer:  Did you purchase the file in your Dropbox using iTunes?  If so, just sync your iPad with that computer and the file will transfer over.  Or just go to the App Store on your iPad and tap the App Store button to download the app; as long as you are signed in with the same account that you used on iTunes, the App Store will recognize that you have paid for the app in the past and let you download it again to another device for free.  Typically, iPhone and iPad apps do not come in Zip files, so it is possible that you have purchased and downloaded a different version.  If this is the case, you will need to go to the App Store and purchase the iOS version.

Question #3
From: F.P. in Alexandria, LA.
Keynote will output to a projector - have to have physical connector, right?

Answer:  To do this today, you need to purchase Apple’s VGA Adaptor, which costs $29 in the Apple Store. In some apps the output mode remains hidden until you plug it in to the projector. But in the next version of the iOS operating system (iOS 5, which we will probably see in September), you will be able to use the AirPlay feature to display virtually anything on your iPad 2’s screen -- including your Keynote slides -- on any TV that has an Apple TV ($99) attached.  The Apple TV is a very small device so you can easily take it with you to your next meeting, hook it up to a TV, and then display your slides without connecting your iPhone or iPad to the TV.  Note, however, that the Apple TV requires an HDMI or Component input, so if you only have access to a projector with VGA input, you’ll need to use a physical connection.

Question #4
Question From: W.P. in Washington, D.C.
I am sure you have also had exposure to iPhone/Pad apps that are also found on the Android system. So in your opinion, what are the best 3 apps for us Android users to snag?

Answer:  Many popular iPhone apps also exist for other platforms.  For example, Documents to Go will work on BlackBerry, Android, Palm OS, Symbian (S60) and Nokia (Maemo Select).  Having said that, because Apple’s App Store is so popular -- and so profitable for developers -- you often see apps appear first for the iPhone / iPad, and only later for other platforms.  A notable exception:  the great apps from Google.  Because Google is behind the Android system, the Android version of apps (such as Google Voice and Google Translate, which we discussed yesterday) often appear first on Android and have more features on Android.

Question #5
Question From: M.C. in Philadelphia, PA
Any Apps for checking court dockets?

Answer:  Not currently, to our knowledge, but some court dockets and online and can be accessed using Safari on the iPhone or iPad.

Question #6
Question From: A.S. in Miami, FL
Are there any mail apps that allow you to access the .pst or exchange outlook folders so you can organize emails from your device as you review them? If not, do you know of plans in iOS5 to make this feature available?

Answer:  If you use your computer to create an Outlook folder that is on the server, it should also appear on your iPhone or iPad if you sync with your company’s Exchange server.  To access those folders, just tap the “Mailboxes” or “Inbox” button at the top of the screen to see all other online Exchange folders associated with your account.  If you create a local folder using Outlook on your computer, that folder is only on your computer and cannot be accessed by the iPhone or iPad.  Further, your iPhone and iPad does not currently permit the type of management you describe; if you want to organize your emails, you will need to do that within Outlook itself.

Question #7
Question From: P.C. in Verona, NY
My office has Outlook with exchange server, so I cannot access my office e-mails, calendar and contacts directly on the iPad mail feature. We have to use Good Technologies to access our e-mail, calendar and contacts. It is cumbersome because we never know if I have an e-mail unless we log into Good to check. Is there a better program which integrates Outlook into the iPad’s existing e-mail function?

Answer:  The iPhone and iPad can indeed work with an Exchange server, but only if your firm turns on that feature.  Some companies are more security conscious and require the use of third party products with extra security to access e-mail, such as Good Technologies or Citrix.  Unfortunately, this limits the usefulness of your iOS device because, for example, third party apps that integrate with the built-in Mail app will not work with your e-mail.  Each company needs to weigh the advantages and tradeoffs -- increased security vs. decreased usability. The Apple iPhone Configuration Utility can be engaged to find a happy medium to satisfy your reluctant IT staff.

Question #8
Question From: S.M. in Scottsdale, AZ
Does Atomic Browser allow you to access Flash websites?

Answer:  No, but there are other, third-party web browsers for the iPhone and iPad that allow you to use Flash to a limited extent.  For example, Skyfire will let you view some Flash videos on your iPhone or iPad.  In general, though, Flash websites do not display very well on the iPhone or iPad.  Fortunately, many companies realize this and provide an iOS-friendly version of their website when access with an iPhone or iPad.

Question #9
Question From: D.B. in Winter Park, FL
Do I need to install antispyware and antivirus software on my iPhone? If I log on to my Lexis and/or Westlaw or email account, do i need to worry about spyware? Thanks, DPB
Answer:  The short answer is No.  Because of the way Apple manages approval of apps, the risk that viruses or malware exists within individual apps is very small.  Currently, the most likely way to catch a virus on your i-device is through browsing to sites on the Internet that host such malware.  LexisNexis and Westlaw are both reputable services, and you should be able to access those sites without concern.  Although it is possible that you can be exposed to malware on other websites, we recommend that instead of purchasing or using security software, exercise the same good judgment you use when browsing the Internet on your desktop or laptop, and don’t click on any suspicious links.  

Question #10
Question From: T.F. in Hallowell, ME
What was the name of the Apple i-reader app you recommended?

Answer:  iBooks.  Although Apple promotes the iBooks app as a way to purchase and read books on your iPad or iPhone (similar to Amazon’s Kindle app), iBooks also does a good job of reading PDF files. In fact, it is currently the fastest PDF viewer on the iPhone.  On the iPad, it is nice to have a full-featured app that you can use to annotate a PDF file, but if you just want to view a PDF file quickly on the iPhone, iBooks is a great (and free) option.

Question #11
Question From: M.G. in Atlanta, GA
My firm does not use Citrix.  We do everything via VMWare.  Is there a compatible app with Visual Machines that allows the user to access their office desktop on their iPhone/iPad?

Answer:  Yes.  The app is called VMWare View and it is free.  We haven’t tried it, but the reviews on the App Store are positive.

Question #12
Question From: D.V. in Indianapolis, IN
Penultimate -- what can you use besides your finger to type?

Answer:  For any of the iPad apps that allow you to draw on your iPad -- yesterday, we discussed Penultimate, Note Taker HD and Notes Plus -- the apps work much better if you use a stylus to write on your iPad screen.  There are many different brands available such as the Kensington Virtuoso (with or without a real pen), the BoxWave Capacitive Styra (with pen) and Stylus (without pen), and the Ten One Design Pogo Sketch Stylus.  If you go to the iPhone J.D. website and do a search at the top right for “stylus” you will find lots of reviews pointing out the advantages and shortcomings of each.

If you prefer to type rather than write, there are a number of keyboards that work great with the iPad, using the device’s Bluetooth connection.  Apple’s wireless keyboard ($69) is a good alternative, and there are number of great cases that come with a keyboard installed.  One example is the Logitech Keyboard Case ($99), an aluminum case.

I'll be posting a list of all the apps mentioned during the webcast in an upcoming post - stay tuned.

Webcast: 60 iPhone and iPad Apps in 60 Minutes

Whether you a new owner of an iPhone or iPad and looking for some good apps to get started, or you've had your i-device for awhile and you're looking for something new, you should definitely check out 60 iPhone and iPad Apps in 60 Minutes, which will be presented thisWednesday, July 27 at 1:00ET.  The panel features iPhone/iPad experts Jeff Richardson of iPhone J.D., Josh Barrett of Tablet Legal, and Reid Trautz, the Chair of ABA TECHSHOW 2012.  I'll be the Moderator, but given the amount of content we have to cover Idoubt I'll get a word in edgewise.  As a bonus, registrants will get a free copy of my new book, iPhone in One Hour for Lawyers.  If you or someone you know want to learn about better ways to use an iPhone or iPad to practice law, give the seminar a look.


Your iPad Encrypted Backup is Now Crackable

A couple of months ago I told you how you could (and should) encrypt your iPad backups for better security. Well, it didn't take long for someone to find around it.  The software, called Phone Password Breaker Tool, can get past encryption on the iPhone, iPad, as well the Blackberry (take that, RIM!), and will reveal the password set on your backup - but by then, the password probably doesn't matter, does it?

Here's the good news - the software needs the device to be physically connected to the computer in order to crack the encryption.  So it's not enough if the hacker only has your iPad; they need your computer as well.  Not so good news if the hacker is a family member or co-worker.

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