More often than not, I find myself switching back and forth between two PDF documents on my iPad. My weekly workflow consists of studying the same material both in English and Chinese. Up until this week, I would accomplish this by either a four-finger multitasking swipe between apps (one with the English PDF and another with Chinese), or by switching tabs in PDF Expert. While these methods got the job done, they both lagged in refreshing the content each time I switched. And I could never actually see both documents at once. So what happened this week that changed my workflow? I discovered Easy Annotate: Two PDFs Side-by-Side on iPad.
Easy Annotate offers a sleek way to view, navigate, and annotate two PDFs at the same time. The app lets users choose between an array of viewing modes. These include full page viewing with quick switching of documents. Landscape and Portrait modes are both supported by placing PDFs side-by-side or above and below. Portrait mode does not snap to a PDF width but its height instead. We’d rather see the opposite as PDFs get too small as it is and lots of zooming ensues. Night and Day mode are also included. All views show page thumbnails at the bottom of the screen.
Easy Annotate is just one of our favorite iPhone and iPad apps for Jehovah’s Witnesses. We’ve collected all of our favorites here. And if you’d like to see more of our top app selections in different categories, just head on over to our Best Apps Series.
Because there are two PDFs open at the same time, Easy Annotate offers two sets of controls above each document. You can open a new PDF, search the current PDF, or share it with another app, by email, or send it to Dropbox. There are even separate bookmark controls for each PDF. The common annotation tools reside at the center top of the screen. By switching between navigate and tool mode, both PDFs can be annotated at the same time. Plus, while in annotate mode, you can still navigate with two-finger swipes to turn pages and two-finger pinch to zoom. Unfortunately, links in PDFs do not work in annotation mode.
Opening a PDF is straight forward as it relies on a method most of us are already familiar with: the iOS “Open In…” function. Using this method, PDFs can be sent to Easy Annotate from other apps like Safari or email. Make sure you move the currently open PDF to the right pane before opening the next one or it’ll get replaced. Dropbox is also supported meaning that PDFs can be opened from your linked account and any annotations made will be sent back to Dropbox. This is really cool and you never have to even think about syncing. However, we wish we could set up favorite Dropbox folders as many of our PDFs are buried deep down multiple Dropbox levels. Documents by Readdle seems to offer the best solution for this by syncing specific folders and displaying icons much like a traditional desktop view. Although, in Easy Annotate, recently opened PDFs can quickly be accessed, which is nice.
Annotation mode grants access to six different tools: highlight, underline, cross out, note, draw, and text. These are all under the annotate icon and can be used in both PDFs at the same time. The menu displays all tools in a grid of six available colors. I can’t help but wonder if one icon for each tool along with one color picker drop down would be easier for the user to select. This way you can change colors on the fly without re-picking the tool you’re already using. That would also allow for a greater color variety without creating a larger tool grid. Once in the tool, annotation works great. In my tests, Easy Annotate handles highlighting of Chinese 3-line documents much better than other apps like PDF Expert and Documents by Readdle. Undo and redo buttons exist for both PDFs so you don’t need to worry about making a mistake when annotating.
As a neat extra feature, Easy Annotate allows users to relate two documents to each other via linking. You can simply create a link from a page or text in one PDF to another one. This way when your studying one document you can open another to the exact page you want. Page linking needs to be set up in Easy Annotate first and does not happen automatically. But if you find yourself studying the same two PDFs often, it can come in handy.
For studying multiple PDFs at once, Easy Annotate: Two PDFs Side-by-Side on iPad is the best solution I’ve found in the App Store. I would say there is a fair learning curve to using Easy Annotate. Thankfully, the app comes with a well-crafted user guide that explains the numerous features. There is an obvious level of care that went into designing the user interface which, combined with the amount of capabilities, makes Easy Annotate one our favorite apps.
Here are a couple of our other picks of the best iPhone and iPad apps for Jehovah’s Witnesses: