Many attorneys tell me that GoodReader is one of the most useful third-party apps on their iPads, and I wholeheartedly agree. I use GoodReader almost every day to read and annotate PDF documents on my iPad. All of the important public documents in all of my cases (e.g. pleadings) are in GoodReader on my iPad and are synced back to my computer via Dropbox, which means that I always have those important files whenever I might need them. (For confidential documents, I use Transporter, a current sponsor of iPhone J.D.) Because GoodReader is so important to my law practice, I am always interested to learn about updates to the app, which happens regularly.
This week, GoodReader was updated from version 3.19 to version 3.20. Don't let the numbers fool you ... this was a major update to GoodReader. The app now features a new user interface that is a vast improvement. I always considered the prior interface rather clunky, but the app was so useful that I loved it anyway. I'm thrilled to see an improved and more useful interface. The app also includes some new features that I think lawyers will like. Here are the features that jumped out at me the most.
Let me start by showing you what the new interface looks like, and then I'll focus on specific features:
New Path Bar
The top left of the file view in the app now features a path bar which makes it easy to understand where you are in a folder substructure. Also, unlike the old GoodReader where you only had the option to go back to the prior folder, you can now instantly jump up several levels in the folders or tap the home button to go all the way back to the top.
Tools button for every file
In the past if you wanted to do something to a file (such as change the name) you had to tap the Manage Files option on the right and then select the file on the left before you could select what you wanted to do with the file. You can now do the same thing in only a single step. Each file entry has, at the far right (just below the file size), a tools button. It is in very light gray so it isn't obnoxious, but it is always there when you need it. When you want to act on a file, just tap the specific tools button on the line next to that file name and the right side will come to life with each possible file management button that could pertain to that file `highlighted — such as the Rename button if you want to change the file name.
New tools layout on the right
Speaking of the tools on the right, GoodReader no longer has a series of bars that you must tap to reveal the options under each bar, which would cause the viewable options to move up and down so you never know where anything is located. Now, the tools layout has five options at the top right that are always visible and in the same location: Find, Recents, Starred, Connect and Manage Files. Tap one option and all available selections appear underneath those five options. And as noted above, only the tools that would work with whatever you have selected are highlighted, so the irrelevant tool don't distract you. I find the layout much easier to use, and it is far easier to find the options that you want.
The options at the bottom also stay in one location, and now one of those buttons is the very important Sync button that updates all of your files with Dropbox. I love that this button has a permanent home, making it easier to find. The button next to it, Back to Reading, is a fast way to go back to the last document you viewed in the app.
Also, the tools layout is more efficient. Because it takes up less space, there is more space available to display file names which is helpful if you are using long file names a la David Sparks that start with a date in a Year-Month-Day format.
Flatten PDF annotations
When you add annotations to a PDF file, sometimes you want to be able to go back and edit those annotations. Other times, you want to make the annotations a permanent part of the file so that someone else cannot change your annotations and so that you can be sure that the annotations are viewable in any PDF viewer. Flattening is the process of making annotations a permanent part of a PDF file.
Under the Manage Files option there is a new button called Flatten Copy. You can now flatten the annotations in many PDF files with a single button click, without needing to open up each file one by one to flatten it. Doing so creates new files with the original file name followed by "- flattened" If you try to flatten a file that doesn't contain any annotations, the app will tell you that there are no annotations. Also, when emailing a bunch of PDF files, there is now an option to flatten all files at once.
Images to the clipboard
Most of my GoodReader files are PDF files, but I have other file types too such as some pictures in JPG format. When you view a picture in GoodReader, there is now an icon at the bottom of the screen that you can tap to copy the image to the clipboard. This makes it easy to go to an email message and paste the picture right in the email or paste the picture in a document in another app.
GoodReader now has full support for iWork 2013 files, Finding files is easier with the ability to limit a search to this folder, subfolders or elsewhere. You can now star files with seven different colors, and search for individual color tags. There is a new audio player if you want to use GoodReader to manage your audio, something that I haven't tried (although I do sometimes use GoodReader to manage videos associated with my files, such as a local TV news story on an accident that is the subject of litigation).
GoodReader already seemed to work fine in iOS 7, but this new version advertises "full iOS 7 compatability," which sounds good to me. It also advertises faster PDF rendering for some PDF files, another improvement that I haven't noticed but sounds good.
Put it all together, and GoodReader version 3.20 is a great update for an app that I already love to use. I continue to believe that GoodReader is the best $5 that any attorney can spend on their iPad — now more than ever.