GoodReader, available for both iPad and iPhone ($5), allows users to open and edit images, documents, PDF files on their iOS device. (I installed and tested the app on my iPad 2). For an academic audience, GoodReader is a vast improvement over the default preview and proves more dexterous than Apple’s pricey Pages app ($10) when it comes to various media.
Not only does it open all sorts of documents (including, iWork files, webarchives, and the latest office documents), but it also connects to just about every kind of server or cloud service available (even a personal favorite, SugarSync). I used GoodReader to access my Google Docs and DropBox: All it required was a username and password. GoodReader lets you download individual files or entire folders to your iPad. Once they’re localized, you can mark files as read and unread, protect them, and add to-do tasks.
If you want to read and annotate journal articles, GoodReader makes your iPad as savvy an editor as your desktop computer. Once you open a file you can add bookmarks, arrows, circles, underlines, strikethroughs, and notes. There’s a terrific freehand markup tool—who knew the iPad’s display was so responsive?—as well as a typewriter tool. You can either save changes to the file or create an annotated copy, which you can email with a comment file without every leaving the app. You can even flatten your document to keep folks from tinkering with your edits. It’s brilliant.
Even more brilliant is that all of those changes, including your notes, open in Acrobat on your desktop. This means that with a cloud service such as DropBox, you can work on a colleague’s draft as easily from your iPad as you can your desktop. It’s seamless, and despite having a laundry list of features, far more than I could hope to outline here, the interface melts away as you use it. While it’s easy to call up advanced features, GoodReader’s modus operandi is invisibility, leaving you with nothing but your document. If you’re looking for a capable PDF reader for your iPad, GoodReader exceeds its name.