PDF Office by Readdle Brings PDF Form Creation to the iPad

Readdle PDF OfficeReaddle, publisher of the popular PDF Expert 5 app for the iPad, released a new PDF app called PDF Office today. PDF Office brings PDF creation, editing, PDF form creation, and Annotation into one easy to use app for the iPad. Readdle compares the functionality of the new app to what you would find in traditional desktop applications like Adobe Acrobat. You can import existing PDFs into PDF Office, or create new documents from scratch, scan existing paper documents using your iPad camera, convert files from existing documents in other formats, or even create fillable forms.

Unlike the prior apps from Readdle, PDF Office is offered on a subscription basis. You can pay $4.99 per month or $39.99 per year. For the first week of its release, Readdle is offering a free one year subscription to PDF Office for users that have PDF Expert 5 already installed on their iPad (considering PDF Expert 5 only cost $9.99, and is a very good app by itself, you are probably better off purchasing and installing PDF Expert 5 before downloading PDF Office, so you can take advantage of the 1 year free subscription).

I have used PDF Office for limited testing purposes. I imported existing PDF documents into PDF Office using DropBox and found functionality for viewing and annotating to be similar to PDF Expert 5. The real differences come in the ability to create editable forms using PDF Office and the Text Editing capability of PDF Office. It is important to note that you can only edit recognized text. This means that if the PDF was created in a text format and exported as a PDF, or it was imported into PDF Office from a text format (like an office document or web page). If you have a scanned document that has not been OCR’ed, or you have created a document in PDF Office by using your iPad camera, you will not be able to edit text.

I was disappointed in the PDF conversion capabilities of the app. When importing Microsoft Office Documents I experienced loss of formatting. I imported several Microsoft Word and Excel Files, and each of them had lost some important formatting. For example, in Word I had text that had been pushed down further in the page, and tables that had changed size. In Excel spreadsheets, I lost many of the background colors that were in the cells. I used iAnnotate to convert the same Word documents to PDFs without the loss of any formatting. I was also able to export documents from Microsoft Word and Excel for iPad as PDFs without losing formatting.

Overall, PDF Office definitely offers advanced PDF editing and creation features that cannot be found elsewhere. When you compare the yearly subscription price of $39.99 to the cost of desktop software with similar functionality, the price seems to be a bargain. However, when considering the limitations I found in the initial offering, I would hope that improvements come quickly to justify the yearly fee. If you are currently a PDF Expert user, download and open the app immediately to get your free one year subscription.

PDF Expert Free OfferIf you have missed the free 1 year subscription offer, try PDF Office under the monthly plan before spending $39.99 on this app. It is free to download, and the subscription is purchased upon opening the app. If you need the ability to create PDF forms on the go, the price may well be worth it. If you are simply looking for PDF annotation, PDF Expert 5 and iAnnotate are still a better option. Both of these apps are available for a one-time price of less than $10, and you don’t have to worry about a recurring subscription.

Download PDF Office for the iPad from the App Store now.

Learn More about Your iPhone/iPad with Free Workshop at Apple Store

Apple Store WorkshopsOne of the advantages of living near an Apple store is the ability to take part in free workshops that are offered on a daily basis. Currently Apple is offering free workshops on iPads, iPhones, Macs, iCloud, iTunes, Using your Apple Devices Together, iPhone Photography, and using Apple in Your Business. All the Workshops last an hour and are free with registration. To check on availability of workshops in your area, visit the learn section of Apple.com.

In Delaware, our only Apple Store is the Christiana Mall location. To view a list of all workshops being offered at the Christiana Apple Store, visit http://www.apple.com/retail/christianamall/. At the top of the page, there is a link to register for a Workshop, or you can scroll down to the bottom of the page to see a list of all Workshops and events currently scheduled. To register for a free event, you do have to have an Apple ID. This is the username and password you use with iCloud. If you do not have an account, you can create a free account during registration.

If you are new to an iPhone, iPad or Mac, or feel that you are not getting the most out of your device, I would encourage to explore the free help that is offered directly from Apple.

iOS 8.1.1 Now Available – Speed Improvements for Older iPhones and iPads

iOS 8.1.1Apple released iOS Version 8.1.1 for the iPhone and iPad today. This is a small incremental update that mainly increases performance on iPhone 4s, iPad 2 and the original iPad Mini. Bug fixes and stability improvements are also promised. You can update your device over-the-air by going to the Settings app, General, and then Software Update (you can also connect your phone to iTunes and do an update through your computer).

I have successfully updated my iPhone 6 Plus without issue. So far there have been no complaints of crashes with this update, but as always, it is recommended that you have a full back-up before performing any update. If you are still using an iPhone 4s or iPad 2, let us know if you notice performance improvements with the new update.

“Hey Siri” Brings Hands-Free Operation to iPhone/iPad

When iOS 8 was released, one of the most useful features it added was “Hey Siri”. This new command allows you to complete functions hands-free while your iPhone or iPad is being charged. This works on any device with Siri capabilities, and is enabled within the Siri settings by selecting “Allow ‘Hey Siri'” (open the Settings app, then go to General, and then Siri). Once enabled, you can activate Siri on your device by simply speaking the command “Hey Siri” followed by the action that you would like performed.

Hey Siri iPhone 6I have been using this functionality on a daily basis since updating to iOS 8. While I am in the car, I always have my iPhone docked so that I can listen to music or podcasts on my iPhone. While it is plugged into my car dock, I simply say “Hey Siri, text my Wife”, and I am immediately prompted to speak my message. After I speak the message, Siri repeats it back to me and asks me if I am ready to send my message. I simply answer yes, and my message is sent. After I am done with Siri, I simply say, “Hey Siri, go away” and I am returned to my music.

Hey Siri Text MessageOnce you have Siri on screen, you can also continue to give commands without pressing any buttons. This is again accomplished by starting your command with “Hey Siri”. So for example, after sending the text message above, I could ask Siri to read my text messages to me by saying “Hey Siri, read text messages”. Siri would tell me how many unread text messages I have and then would proceed to read the messages. After each message is read, I would also be prompted whether to send a reply.

Hey Siri Read Text MessagesAlthough I find this functionality most useful while in my vehicle, I also use “Hey Siri” at home. After I wake up in the morning, I can find out the time by asking “Hey Siri, what time is it?”. I can check the weather by saying “Hey Siri, what’s the weather today?”, and I can check my schedule by asking “Hey Siri, what’s my schedule like?”. If I wake up before my alarm is set to go off, I can even say, “Hey Siri, turn off my alarm.”

If you want to use the “Hey Siri” command when your phone is not being charged, you first have to manually start Siri by holding down on your Home button. After Siri is on the screen, additional commands can be done hands-free by saying “Hey Siri” followed by your command.

Of course “Hey Siri” is only useful if Siri can understand you. I have found that Siri does a much better job of understanding my commands in iOS 8, but your mileage may vary. See our previous post for a list of commands that can be used with Siri.

 

Microsoft Office Apps Come to iPhone, Editing and Creating Now Available for iPad and iPhone

Microsoft announced on its blog today, that Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps are now universal, meaning that they are available for both iPad and iPhone. In addition to Word, Excel and PowerPoint now being available on the iPhone, the updated apps now allow users of both iPhone and iPad to create and edit Microsoft Office documents without a subscription to Office 365. The prior versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint on the iPad could only be used to view documents without a subscription to Office 365.

As part of this release, the horrible Microsoft Office Mobile app for iPhone will be retired. Additionally, Microsoft has promised a preview of Office for Android tablets in the near future and confirmed that a touch-optimized version of Office is in development for Windows 10.

Although Microsoft announced immediate availability of the updates in the Apple App Store, I could only access them with through a link currently and not through an App Store Search.

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This is a great change for Microsoft. Although a Microsoft Office 365 account is not needed for editing abilities, you do have to login with a Microsoft Account. If you already have a Live.com account, a Hotmail Account, or you have registered with Microsoft in any way, you can use the same login information. If you do not have an account, it is free to setup and use. If you do not login with a Microsoft Account, you are still limited to just viewing documents.

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The Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps on the iPhone are just as full featured as the iPad versions, but due to the smaller screen, toolbar options have been adjusted to a menu instead of across the top. It will not be as quick to edit and create on an iPhone, but it is a nice option for those situations when you do not have access to a computer or tablet. I can confirm that documents that I routinely use with advanced formatting options appeared in the native format on my phone.

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Dropbox integration that was just recently announced has been added in the updated apps. When you first launch the updated app, you are given the option of immediately signing in to Dropbox. If you decline, the option can easily be added later by selecting “Add a Service” under connected services. I was able to easily add my Dropbox account and authenticate through the Dropbox App. Editing and viewing of Dropbox documents worked with no problem.

This is a very welcome addition to the Microsoft Office Applications.

Amazon CloudDrive Now Offers Unlimited Photo Storage For Prime Members

One of the biggest complaints I hear from iPhone users is that they often run low on disk space due to the amount of photos that they have stored on their device. Amazon today announced that Amazon prime members will now have unlimited storage in the Amazon CloudDrive app for full resolution photos. The Amazon App offers automatic background upload of your photos from your iPhone or iPad. Once the photos are stored on CloudDrive, they can be accessed on any device that has Internet access.

The Amazon CloudDrive back up of photos is being offered to all members of Amazon prime at no additional cost. If you are not currently a member of Amazon prime, a free 5 GB storage limit is still being provided. If you have been unable to upgrade your iPhone or iPad to the latest version of iOS because you are out of disk space, the option to back up all of your photos to Amazon CloudDrive would allow you to delete photos on your device knowing that you have full resolution backup copies in the cloud. Once you have your photos stored in the drive, you can delete the photos from your device and apply any updates that are waiting for you.

Although Apple offers iCloud backup of your photos, free space is still limited, and Amazon provides another option for you. If you are a Microsoft office 365 subscriber, Microsoft OneDrive also provides you with unlimited backup of all of your photos. Google Drive, and Dropbox also provide options for backing up photos if you are already a subscriber of one of those services. It is nice to see that several of the cloud drive services are offering easy ways to back up and preserve all of the photos from your mobile devices.

You can download the Amazon CloudDrive Photo backup app from the app store now.IMG_5680.JPG

Microsoft Office 365 Adding Support for Dropbox

Microsoft and Dropbox announced a new partnership today that will allow users to more easily access documents, spreadsheets and presentations stored in Dropbox. Under the new partnership, iPad apps for Dropbox and office apps including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, will offer easy ways to access and edit documents using the Office suite of apps. Along with Microsoft’s own OneDrive, users of Word, Excel and PowerPoint will be able to connect the apps to Dropbox and open and save documents directly to this service. When viewing documents in Dropbox, iPad users will be given the option to directly open documents in the Office 365 apps to view and edit.

It appears that a subscription to Office 365 will still be needed to create and edit documents using the Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps, but the additional cloud storage option will be welcomed by many users. Considering Microsoft’s recent announcement of unlimited cloud storage for subscribers of Office 365, I’m not sure Dropbox is still necessary, but if you are using that service, this change should make life easier for you. The updated apps are expected soon. See the Verge for more information. IMG_5676.JPG

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