ReaddleDocs 3, the latest version of the popular document viewer and file manager for the iPad was released a few days ago and it packs a bunch of new features and improvements. The app is a little odd in some ways, because at its core it is trying to recreate the file system on an iPad — something that Apple has tried its very best to stay away from with iOS. But in reality, if you’ve wanted to be productive on an iPad you’re inevitably going to need some sort of file system, because whilst iCloud is beginning to help with document and app sync, it isn’t all that helpful for syncing between apps.
As a result, I use a few other ‘cloud’ services to keep all my documents in sync and available everywhere. The primary one I use is SugarSync, but I also use Dropbox (primarily for collaboration) and occasionally Google Docs. This allows me to use any of the computers I have at home, where I will have all my documents ready and available – I can even edit them and see those edits synced across to the other computers where I could access that same file the next morning with all the edits included.
But how do I deal with documents on the iPad? It’s been a bit of a complicated issue since the iPad was first released, and initially I was just emailing any documents I needed on my iPad to myself and then opening that email up on the iPad – but this was messy, complicated and required advanced ‘knowledge’ to send that file before you could see it on the iPad. Eventually I realised I had to find a better way to solve this, and that’s where SugarSync and Dropbox come in. Both these services (and a multitude of others) slowly began to be supported by various apps for the iPad and iPhone, hooking straight into the services. This was a far better way to open files on the iPad – but the apps felt very rough around the edges.
In recent months I’ve been using iFiles on the iPad and iPhone, it’s been pretty great and it was certainly the best app I had used to date for viewing documents from my Dropbox folder and SugarSync services. Then about a month after I started using iFiles, I came across PDF Expert. Primarily I was using it for PDF annotation, but I noticed it was also a pretty great file viewer, particularly because it would also integrate right into Dropbox and SugarSync. So over the past few months I’ve been using PDF Expert for most of my document viewing needs and occasionally opening iFiles.
When looking at it simply, PDF Expert and ReaddleDocs 3 are nearly identical — they share very similar user interfaces and are close in functionality too. Where they differentiate is mainly in price (PDF Expert is nearly twice as much) and in annotation abilities (it is far better in PDF Expert). So before I go into too much detail, if you want to do a lot of PDF annotation on the iPad, PDF Expert is what you should purchase (even if you want to use it as a document viewer, because it is also good at that). In all other cases my recommendation is for ReaddleDocs 3, particularly if you want to do some file management – it is virtually identical and also has some annotation capabilities.
Jump the break to continue reading my review of ReaddleDocs 3.