PDFpen from SmileOnMyMac, LLC joins a small collection of PDF annotation apps like iAnnotate PDF and PDF Expert that allows a user to import PDF files, annotate them on their iPad and share them through a variety of popular web services.
The user selects from six basic markup tools: highlight, free hand, shapes, underline, strikethrough and squiggly underline. Once the appropriate tool has been selected the user can brush their finger or stylus along the word they want to annotate. I found most of the tools to be pretty intuitive, once you select it all you need to do is drag your finger/stylus across a word and it will be properly marked-up. Sadly, the finger seemed to be the best tool for this, with the Griffin Stylus coming in a close second. The more expensive Adonit Jot had some issues, but I think that was because the app was designed for a ‘larger’ capacitive footprint and the appeal of the Adonit Jot Pro was that it has a fine point of contact.
PDFpen falls apart when a user wants to use the free hand tool to scribble notes on the pdf. While suitable for signatures I found it very difficult to write a small note. As a teacher, this would not be a suitable for writing feedback directly on a student’s paper. While you could create a textbox with typed-text in it and drag in an arrow pointing to a highlighted section of the pdf the lag time to do this was pretty noticeable.
Smile Software has the potential of offering a fantastic app. PDFpen shares documents through a wide-range of popular solutions, namely DropBox, Evernote and Google Docs that would integrate nicely into our school’s iPad 1:1 program but for the hefty $9.99 price tag I couldn’t justify making this a required app for my faculty.