Tag Archives: iPad

My iPad Journey – PDF Viewers

After getting my new-to-me iPad set up, I began searching for a solution to view my percussion scores. Since my scores are all saved as PDF’s, it just made sense that I should look for a good PDF viewer. I had a few basic requirements that a viewer would have to meet.

First, a useful PDF viewer for my intended purpose would have to include the option to scroll pages horizontally, like a book. Bonus if the scroll animation mimics an actual page turning. Secondly, the viewer would have to offer the ability to make notes right on the PDF score and save edits. This is commonly called annotating or markup. And finally, it must be able to access cloud storage. That’s it. Nothing fancy. Basic features right?

A search of the most popular/best PDF viewers for iPad yielded a starting point for apps to check out. Among those were Acrobat’s Adobe Reader and PDF Expert. Along the way, I also discovered PDF Viewer and decided to test Apple’s native Files app, as well.

The table below shows the main features I looked for and tested within each app. A few notes about the listed features: Intuitive 1 and 2 page view refers to the app displaying a single page in portrait mode and 2 consecutive pages in landscape mode automatically based on screen orientation; shapes refers to the apps ability to insert shapes, like a circle around a given count of a measure; arrows added to point out something specific in a measure, typically with a note attached to it; text – could a text note be added to the PDF; highlighter – freestyle like an actual highlighter to highlight specific musical notation and the ability to highlight printed text within the PDF.

PDF ViewerPDF ExpertAdobe ReaderFiles
Horizontal scrollingyesyesyesno
Intuitive 1 page view (portrait)yesno, must selectno, must selectno
Intuitive 2 page view (landscape)yesno, must selectno, must selectno
Page turn animationyesnonono
Score annotationyesyespaid upgradeyes
Apple pencil/fingeryesyesnoyes
Highlighter freestyleyesyesnoyes
Highlighter textyesyesnono
Cloud storageyesyesyesyes

As you can see, PDF Viewer checked all the boxes for me. And a bonus feature with this app is the ability to save a signature for signing documents, which most PDF apps charge for, but PDF Viewer includes with its free version. So if you’re looking for a reliable, feature-rich PDF reader that has a great free version, great for viewing and making notes on your sheet music and scores, you can’t go wrong with PDF Viewer.

My first iPad

For the past year plus (maybe two), I’ve explored options to go paperless with the primary focus being while teaching Drum Camp. I wanted something small enough to be portable and lightweight, but with a screen large enough I could easily read my scores. And not expensive. For me this ruled out iPads so I never considered that an option. Also, I’m a longtime user of all things Google and am deeply entrenched in the Google ecosystem.

Devices I’ve considered include Amazon’s line of tablets, Samsung, and even a purchased Lenovo 2 in 1 laptop. But each had shortcomings that were deal breakers for me. Screen size too small, resolution too low resulting in blurry screens, overpriced, too fragile. The list goes on.

My wife used an iPad (purchased through our mobile carrier) for various work-related tasks. She liked it but never raved about it. I’m the tech enthusiast of the family, but because I’m a Google fan, I barely gave her iPad a look. Then about a month ago she decided the iPad was no longer needed for its purchased purpose, so she passed it along to me hoping it would end my search. And boy did it.

In the short amount of time I’ve been using it, I’ve quickly realized it does exactly what I need it to do and so much more. First, it’s the iPad 7th generation. An older model yes, but that’s ok. The screen clarity is incredible, the size and weight are perfect, and because my wife destroys technology with the ferocity of a charging bull, the case we put it in protects it quite well.

I’ve decided that other music educators and more specifically, percussion instructors, might benefit from my journey. The apps, the method, the implementation, the setup. So you’re invited to join me as I explore all the possibilities. I’ll be writing and posting here so check back often to read more about my iPad journey!

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