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App of the Week: PDF Expert 7

Readdle Launches PDF Expert 7, Free Update for iPhone & iPad

Today we are incredibly excited to launch PDF Expert 7 — our vision of what the ultimate PDF experience for every iPhone and iPad should be.

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This week’s update to PDF Expert secures it as my favorite PDF app on iOS. The one and only problem I have been having with it for the past year or two was its lack of integration with the iOS document browser, which shows you the same interface as the Files app when selecting which PDF you want to work with. I wrote about this last week with reference to the OmniGroup’s apps getting support for the native file browser this fall.

Accessing the the document browser is a tap away at all times. A ‘recent documents’ option is also one tap away. This is helpful because PDF Expert does a great job of integrating different options for managing your PDFs. It has Dropbox and Google Drive support. It also allows you to store PDFs locally within the app. This is useful for me when I am creating new PDFs or temporarily making copies of them for the purpose of editing the order of pages, the text of my documents, etc...

The PDF Expert 7 interface. ‘My Files’ are locally stored documents which do not sync to iCloud. They can be viewed in the Files app through the PDF Expert file provider.

The PDF Expert 7 interface. ‘My Files’ are locally stored documents which do not sync to iCloud. They can be viewed in the Files app through the PDF Expert file provider.

I like my ‘one true’ copies of my documents to live in iCloud. I will often take a scan of a stack of concert band parts, drag it into PDF Expert, extract the individual pages into separate parts (Flute 1, Flute 2, etc.), and then save these parts back to iCloud. I don’t want any of the extra files generated during this process cluttering up my documents folder, so its nice to have a quarantined area of PDF Expert where they can live.

The old PDF Expert interface.

The old PDF Expert interface.

The PDF Expert file provider, accessed through the Files app.

The PDF Expert file provider, accessed through the Files app.

These local files can also be accessed from the native Files app as PDF Expert is a file provider.

Furthermore, PDF Expert gets its own iCloud folder where you can store documents by default. This is becoming less necessary because of how easy it is to access the Files interface, regardless of where your PDFs are stored.

As mentioned above, the ‘recents’ option makes it more streamlined to find what you want, no matter which of these methods you have used to store documents.

I am focusing a lot on the file workflow here because PDF Expert 6 already had the best feature set of any PDF app I have used on iOS. A clean interface, great editing tools, the ability to edit the text and images of a PDF (for real!) and more. These features are now all free. PDF Expert 7 introduces some pro features that come at the cost of 50 dollars a year. Some of these features include converting to PDF from Word or Excel files, and the option to customize the look and feel of the editing tools at the top of the screen. I am glad PDF Expert chose these features to put in the paid tier. It is just enough that it will be worth it for some users, but all of the good stuff is still in the free version.

I will probably try the one week free trial but will most likely stick with the free version.

These PDFs are stored inside of iCloud Drive, inside a folder called PDF Expert. Though this is becoming less necessary now that the Files app is integrated more directly into the app.

These PDFs are stored inside of iCloud Drive, inside a folder called PDF Expert. Though this is becoming less necessary now that the Files app is integrated more directly into the app.

The new PDF Expert interface puts the iOS document browser. In this screenshot, I can directly access PDFs that are stored in my musical Scores folder, which is in my iCloud Drive.

The new PDF Expert interface puts the iOS document browser. In this screenshot, I can directly access PDFs that are stored in my musical Scores folder, which is in my iCloud Drive.

App of the Week: Scanbot (and Scanner Pro)

This week’s App of the Week is Scanbot

As years pass, I solidify my mainstay productivity apps. I might try 100 todo or scanner apps, but many of the ones I depend on have been on my home screen for years. For a very long time, Readdle’s Scanner Pro was my scanner app of choice for getting documents and sheet music from the real world into my digital database. Scanbot has recently come to challenge it. 

Rather than explain all of the features, I have simply embedded a quick screencast below that shows it off. Both Scanner Pro and Scanbot allow the user to very quickly get paper into their phone, make the text searchable, neaten up the edges, and prepare the document for sharing. Both apps make it easy to customize ways to send finished documents to specific locations in your file system. Scanner Pro does this through custom workflows and Scanbot does it by remembering my most commonly saved locations in my iCloud and Google Drive (you can see this on the last screen of the screencast). But Scanbot has a few nice touches that ultimately push me over the edge, especially considering how tedious scanning documents with a phone can be...

Getting the final scan into a particular location is smoother for me in Scanbot because it always has my most recently saved locations one tap away. I also really like the way that when selecting the edges of the paper, Scanbot has handles that drag an entire edge, whereas Scanner Pro only has handles in the four corners. Notice in the video how Scanbot even detects the edge when I get close and automatically snaps to the edge of the page. Note that both of these apps have an automatic mode that detects the edges for you and bypasses this step. I just wanted to demo the neat snapping feature in the video.

Both apps also create a folder in iCloud Drive that will automatically save all snapped documents so that you can instantly run over to another device like your Mac and get to your new files.

Scanner Pro does have a few unique features. First, its custom workflows are very powerful and can do multiple things with your finished PDF (for example: save a document to Evernote with specific tags, add it to a specific folder in Dropbox, and email it to a coworker all in one tap). Second, it can scan your camera roll for things that look like documents (maybe a business card or a page you shot on your camera in a hurry) and transform them into PDFs on the spot. Third, it integrates with Readdle's other great productivity apps, like PDF Expert

Check out these awesome scanning apps and level up your digital organization!

MMEA Session Notes - Working With Digital Scores

Tomorrow I will be presenting at the Maryland Music Educators Association's Fall Conference. The session I am presenting is all about Working with Digital Scores. I will be covering file management, scanning, and score reading software such as forScore. I am also going to be digging in to some of the new iPad productivity features that shipped with iOS 11 last month. If you are going to be at the conference, come say hi!

Here are the session notes for the session...

Click here to view the session notes in Evernote!

 

Working with Digital Scores Session Notes - Robby Burns - MMEA In Service, October 20, 2017

Apps for Scanning:

Apple Notes App

Evernote Scannable 

Scanner Pro

Tiny Scanner

NotateMe

Sheet Music Scanner

 

Apps for Managing Files:

Files App

Dropbox

Google Drive

Documents

Evernote

 

Apps for Working with Scores:

forScore

unReal Book

Newzik

Scorch

Notion

 

Notes on forScore:

Link to my blog post on creating indexes with forScore

 

My Book:

Digital Organization Tips for Music Teachers

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Oxford University Press

View the video trailer

 

About Me:

Robby Burns

Twitter | Blog | Podcast | Email