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Papers for iPad Review

Papers for iPad aims to help one manage their bibliography of papers better, while also letting one read the papers on the iPad's beautiful screen.

The bottom line is that this software is "almost good." It is still useful but it has a number of glaring omissions that will leave you fighting it more often than you like. Sadly, there are not many alternatives at the moment so you're pretty much stuck with it, and it's better than nothing.

Papers for iPad ScreenshotPapers for iPad Screenshot

The basic idea of Papers for the iPad is to let you easily download papers from major document repositories, such as the ACM Portal or Pub Med, along with all of the meta-data (e.g. title, author, journal, etc.) and then to be able to organize using that data on the iPad. Kind of like iTunes for your papers, plus a reader.

Reading a Paper and Filing it into a FolderReading a Paper and Filing it into a Folder

This part mostly works, except for a number of problems. The ACM Portal search doesn't work, frequently return search results in the wrong order. This is very strange; for example if you search for the EXACT title of a particular paper, you will often have to page through about 30 results in order to find the direct match. If you used the actual ACM portal search it would be the first hit. Very weird, and still not fixed, although a recent patch made it somewhat better. If you use one of the other repositories you may have better luck.

Another problem with the program is the proxy support. While it does support EZ Proxy, it is a bit glitchy. Sometimes after logging in through EZ Proxy in the app to download a paper while not on campus, the app will error out and fail to download a PDF. Even worse, you are forced to use their repository search. You cannot import documents through a web interface, so if you want to use some other repository, or you want to use advanced search on the document repository's website, you're out of luck. You also cannot import papers from email, or, indeed, any other method besides the 8 repositories that they support. Nice.

Another serious omission is annotation. You cannot annotate documents inline. No circling, no highlighting, no text comments inline. You can only enter text into a textbox that describes the entire document -- even if it is 100 pages. Not useful.

So basically, if you don't care about any of the following:

- Annotations of any kind
- Importing documents other than the repositories directly supported (e.g. from email...)
- Use the ACM portal

Then this app may not be for you. However, if this doesn't bother you, then you may find this useful. If the developer could just fix these problems it would be a much, much better app.

The Only Annotation FeatureThe Only Annotation Feature

Searching Paper RepositoriesSearching Paper Repositories

Searching Paper Repositories - Search Results ScreenshotSearching Paper Repositories - Search Results Screenshot

by Margaret Walker on Tue, 06/08/2010 - 00:46

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