When I was at ABA TECHSHOW a few weeks ago, several people told me that PDF Expert from Readdle was their favorite tool for editing and annotating PDF documents on the iPad. My co-presenter Brett Burney even included PDF Expert in this year's edition of 60 Apps in 60 Minutes. Readdle sent me a free review copy of the app and I've been using it for the last few weeks. PDF Expert is a sophisticated app for working with PDFs on the iPad. It is the same caliber of app as PDFpen, which I reviewed last month, in that it has lots of powerful tools.
Note that there are separate versions of PDF Expert for the iPhone and iPad. Each costs $9.99. I have only reviewed the version for the iPad.
There are lots of ways to get a file into PDF Expert. Of course you can use the standard "Open in..." menu. You can also connect to a large variety of servers, including Dropbox. Like GoodReader, you can even choose to sync folders. You can also connect to PDF expert from a computer on the same Wi-Fi network and transfer files that way. And despite its name, PDF Expert can handle many file types beyond PDF include MS Word and images.
PDF Expert has a number of ways for displaying files that are contained in the app. A grid view shows you icons with document previews for many file types including PDF, or you can select a list view. You can sort by name, date or size.
Once you select a document, you can tap once in the middle of the document to view it full screen, or tap again to see menu items. The second menu items is a clock. Tapping it brings up a useful list of recently accessed files, saving you a trip back to your list of all documents.
Tapping the grid button shows you all pages in a document. From there, you can insert a blank page, rearrange pages, copy or delete pages and export pages to a new document.
The edit tool includes many of the common annotation tools, including adding boxes, ovals, arrows, etc. For readable text, the app does a great job with highlighting. For nonreadable text, the app includes a highlight tool, but unfortunately like so many other apps it makes the text that you highlight harder to read. (PDFpen is one of the few apps to handle this correctly.)
PDF Expert aso includes a nice tool for signing documents. You can use the full screen of the iPad to create your signature, then you can save the signature for future use. You can only store one signature in the app, but every time you insert a signature you are given the option of either using your stored signature or adding a "Customer Signature" — in other words, let somebody else sign without saving that signature to a clipboard for future use.
You can add two types of stamps. First you can add a picture from your Photos library. Second, you can add a text stamp. You can edit the words in the text stamp as well as the color, but all of the text stamps basically look the same. The app also comes with some built-in stamps, most of which are simply text stamps, but there are a few others as well such as check marks, Xs, and tabs showing you where to sign.
The app lets you view a list of PDF bookmarks, an outline, and annotations, and you can tap on entries to jump to particular instances. When you are done, you can export a file via e-mail or by using the "Open in..." menu. If you enable syncing with a server such as Dropbox, you can export files that way too.
Having seen all that PDF Expert can do, I now understand why I met so many enthuiastic users at ABA TECHSHOW. This app can handle most of the tasks that you would want for a PDF editor on the iPad. Having said that, I can't help but compare this app to PDFpen, and while each app can do things that the other cannot (or that the other does differently), I prefer most of the choices in PDFpen. For example, as mentioned above, PEFpen does a much better job highlighting a document that does not have readable text. PDFpen has a more sophisticated Library system for storing and adding objects to documents, whereas PDF Expert is limited to the text stamps and a few others (although you can also add a picture from your photos library). PDF Expert has the ability to sync with a server such as Dropbox, a feature that PDFpen lacks (PDFpen lets you get a file from Dropbox but only syncs with iCloud), but I prefer to use GoodReader for my Dropbox syncing so that feature is less important to me than it would be to others. For these and other reasons that are mostly a matter of personal preference, I suspect that I will use PDFpen more than PDF Expert, but that doesn't mean that I haven't used PDF Expert quite a bit lately, and not just because I've been preparing a review.
For attorneys looking to spend $10 on an excellent app for handling PDF files on an iPad, PDF Expert and PDFpen are both great options. Hopefully my reviews of both apps will help you to decide which app is best for you.