For most attorneys using an iPad, I have a strong suspicion that PDF is the most important file format. Rather than lugging boxes full of documents to meetings, courts, trials, etc., it is so much better have everything in PDF format organized in an app on your iPad such as GoodReader, PDFpen or the many other fantastic PDF apps. But Adobe controls PDF, so when it updates its own PDF software for the computer or other devices, it is worth paying attention to what is new. I reviewed the free Adobe Reader app for the iPad and iPhone last year, and while the app was limited, it considered it useful. Everyone once in a while I encounter a file on my iPad or iPhone that only Adobe Reader can handle.
Yesterday, Adobe updated Adobe Reader for the iPad and iPhone to add some great new features.
First, Adobe added simple annotation capabilities including highlighting, strike-through and underlining for readable files. You can access these features from a menu at the top, or by simply selecting text and choosing the option from a pop-up menu.
For all files, including those that are not readable, you can add a note or you can draw on the document using a simple pen tool.
[UPDATE 12/1/2012: Be sure to read Ernie Svenson's comment to this post about what happens to annotations when you export a PDF file.]
This version also adds a nice signature feature. Select the signature tool and tap on the spot in the document where you want to sign. A screen then appears where you can sign your name.
The app then adds that signature to your document, where you can resize it to make it fit and edit the thickness, color or opacity of the lines. In the future, just tap the signature button to add your previous signature again, or you can choose to edit your saved signature.
The update also adds the ability to fill out forms, although I haven't tried that feature yet.
The first time that you make an annotation, the app asks for your name. In the future, you can change your identity by going to the iPad's Settings app and selecting Adobe Reader.
All of the features mentioned above also work on the iPhone, although annotating and signing a document on the iPhone's tiny screen can be a challenge.
The annotation features in Adobe Reader are simple and do not hold a candle to more sophisticated apps such as PDFpen. I recommend that most attorneys use more sophisticated PDF apps, especially on an iPad, to gain more features such as the ability to store files in folders, sync, make advanced edits, etc. On the other hand, the features Adobe just added to the Adobe Reader app are well implemented and make this an app that I would recommend to anyone looking for a quick and easy way to annotate a document.