Readdle, 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.
If 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.