[Athen] Annotating & highlighting PDFs on an iPad

Shelley Haven ShelleyHaven at techpotential.net
Thu Apr 8 02:02:29 PDT 2010

I apologize for all the iPad-centric posts lately, but the more I explore this thing, the more possibilities I see for the LD students with whom I work.

I came across an amazing app this evening called iAnnotate PDF; think of it as Kurzweil's study tools on an iPad. You download text PDF files to the iPad through a simple desktop interface (Mac or Windows). Open the file, zoom in or out to the desired magnification, then highlight text in different colors by simply dragging your finger across the text. You can also underline text, strike-through, make freehand (free-finger?) annotations with a pencil tool, bookmark, and add different color text notes which can be pinned anywhere on the page. If the PDF is tagged properly, the app will also generate an outline for easier navigation. Marked-up files can then be uploaded back to the computer. In the next version (due shortly), text-only summaries of just the annotations can be extracted and sent to the user via e-mail.

Here's a description of iAnnotate PDF, plus a video demo of it in action:

I had great fun leisurely highlighting and annotating text with the Pogo Stylus (http://tenonedesign.com/stylus.php) which duplicates the capacitance of human skin -- much more natural than trying to highlight with my fingertip. The developer has a forum where people can post feature requests. Several wanted a dictionary function; I "fourthed" that motion for that, and also requested VoiceOver access of the text since Apple now allows developers to use VO in their apps.

Judging from the forum posts and reviews, many of the users (on both iPad and iPhone) are grad students in medical or law school who need to read and study a ton of text. Obviously, this has application in the K-12 arena as well, perhaps for teachers to mark-up PDFs for students to provide a guided reading experience.

Anyway, just thought some of you might see value in this.

- Shelley

Shelley Haven ATP, RET
Assistive Technology Consultant

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