Approximately at the same time that the iPhone 4 was being released, Apple released a new version of iBooks for the iPad with PDF support. This was not the first application for reading PDFs on the iPad, but it brought PDF support to what is almost a built-in application for the iPad, despite the fact that you need to download it. I don’t imagine that many iPad owners skip on downloading Apple’s free ebook reader application.
While PDF support in iBooks doesn’t still have all the features that you can use on EPUB books, it is certainly a welcome addition and makes the iPad still more useful for consuming reading material.
PDFs look great on the iPad, making them a much more attractive alternative to ebook formats for many situations. As an example I have included below a picture of a page of Collis Ta’eed’s recently released “How to build a successful blog business”.
You can see that the text is very clear and that the formatting comes across great as you would expect from a PDF document. Being able to get the full formatting you would have with Acrobat Reader on a desktop or notebook or even in a printed book makes PDF a good choice for business books such as this.
Like everybody I have a ton of PDF documents I have download from many sources, but I’ve also acquired some ebooks PDF format in recent months. While these do provide a good visual experience when read on a computer, they weren’t an immediate fit for the iPad. I tried a couple of the PDF readers available on the App Store but didn’t really think that any of them really provided me with the experience I wanted.
I’ll admit that I didn’t exhaust all the possibilities available on the App Store, just my patience for trying them out, regardless of how inexpensive they are. When I found out that an update to iBooks would be coming out with PDF support in a couple of weeks I decided I would wait to see what mileage I could get out of Apples ebook reader app in this area.
I was not disappointed with iBooks as a PDF reader on the iPad, while I found it to be totally useless as such on the iPod Touch or iPhone, which have too small a screen for this. The iPad with its 9.7 inch screen can render a fully formatted PDF beautifully. iBooks provides good support navigating the document, keeping tabs of where you left off the last time you were reading. This means you don’t have to use it just o read short documents, but can use it to fully enjoy longer titles such as the one show above which is over 330 pages long.
iBooks also has a nice implementation of bookmarks which can be seen as small red ribbons placed on the top right edges of the bookmarked pages. A small button on the control bar that is shown on the top portion of the screen when you tap a page lets you select a sort of a pages overview mode in which you get a high level view of all pages as thumbnails and in which the bookmarked pages are shown as such with red ribbons showing on their right upper corners. The red arrows indicate two such bookmarks in picture aligned on the right side of the article.
You can easily use iBooks to read PDFs which have been formatted with a different page size or orientation. The following screenshot shows a picture of a novel I purchased over 10 years ago in PDF format through a company called Mighty Words and which hasn’t been around for a long time.
This ebook is a novel which for some reason the Author decided to format with landscape page orientation. I imagine he thought that it would make a better fit for the computer monitors that were available at that time, which might very well have been. Nonetheless, iBooks handles it quite well and holding the iPad in landscape position will give you a good reading experience for landscape formatted documents.
The one flaw the iPad has which can keep you from fully enjoying it as your go-everywhere book reading device is its sensitivity to heat. iPads have an operating temperature requirement of 35 degrees Celsius. This pretty much ensures that you can’t use one outdoors in many places. It doesn’t affect me personally as all the places where I use it have air-conditioning, but I sure it has an impact for many users which would like to be able to read books, documents and magazines out on the garden, for example, in the summer.
With the inclusion of PDF support in the free iBooks application the iPad took another step towards being my go-to solution for reading anything, be it ebooks, web articles, magazines or social network updates. I expect that I will only continue to rely more on this device as such interesting new applications such as Flipboard continue to place more interesting content within easy rich of my fingers.
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