iOS Review: iAnnotate, GoodReader and PDF expert

By merging all your documents into a single PDF file, you will be able to more easily navigate documents and make annotations. There are many apps available which allow you to read and annotate documents on your iPad. For your convenience, we have made a comparison between three popular PDF readers for the iPad.

icon GoodReaderGoodReader


icon Expert PDFExpert PDF


icon iAnnotate PDFiAnnotate PDF



We will compare these apps with emphasis on the following criteria:

  • Price
  • File accessibility
  • Compatibility with online cloud services (such as Google Docs and Dropbox)
  • Ease of reading
  • Ease of editing (adding text, making annotations, etc.)



GoodReader currently has a price of €3,99, whilst Expert PDF and iAnnotate PDF both cost € 7,99. Although all three apps won't cost you an arm and a leg, Expert PDF and iAnnotate both cost more than twice as much as GoodReader, yet offer little more in functionality.


File Accessibility

interface van Expert PDF

interface van Expert PDF

Expert PDF:
Expert PDF scores quite well in this category, offering a very clean and organised user interface. There is not a single button which does not clearly have a function, and you can put your documents into folders, which allows you to more easily organise them. This app supports drag-and-drop file management.


iAnnotate PDF:
iAnnotate PDF offers the same amount of functionality as Expert PDF in regards to accessibility. This application supports drag-and-drop file management as well, yet is not as easy in use as Expert PDF due to having a less intuitive user interface. Your files are well accessible, but there are more buttons and the overall look is less streamlined.


interface van GoodReader

interface van GoodReader

Goodreader has a completely different user-interface, in which the screen is split into two columns. The left column contains your folders and files, whilst the column to the right contains bars in which you can manage said files and folders. GoodReader is the only application out of the three which does not support drag-and-drop.

All three applications allow you to easily access your files, but Expert PDF takes the crown by having a better and more intuitive interface and a generally smoother user experience.


Compatibility with online cloud services

verbinding maken met iAnnotate PDF

verbinding maken met iAnnotate PDF

All three apps allow you to connect to online cloud services. Dropbox integration requires the user to enter an E-mail address and the corresponding password in order to connect. GoodReader and Expert PDF have a similar option for Google Docs/Drive. Through these connections, you will be able to easily down- and upload to your Google Docs/Drive account. iAnnotate PDF allows the user to directly place hyperlinks to websites. Goodreader can download files through a URL. All three applications have the ability to link with WebDAV.

Just like in the previous category, Expert PDF looks a bit more tight and organised than the other two apps. Between GoogleReader and iAnnotate PDF, GoogleReader is better at connecting to services as well as down- and uploading.


Ease of reading

gemakkelijk door uw bestand navigeren met iAnnotatePDF

een overzicht van uw bestand met iAnnotatePDF

iAnnotate PDF:
iAnnotate PDF is very suitable for reading files. This is the only app which allows you to vertically scroll through a file. Expert PDF does not support this feature by default, but this can be enabled through the settings menu. Switching between pages and scrolling through pages goes very smoothly, without any stuttering at all, larger files included. iAnnotate PDF also has an extra bar with thumbnails which allows you to easily navigate your document. This function is incredibly useful when you're reading a large file. This bar also allows you to navigate the document through bookmarks. Another advantage to using iAnnotate PDF is that multiple files can be opened at the same time, allowing you to quickly switch between documents.



twee pagina's tegelijk bekijken met GoodReader

twee pagina's tegelijk bekijken met GoodReader

A major plus to GoodReader is that it allows you to open multiple files simultaneously. GoodReader can only scroll through a file horizontally, but like iAnnotate, has an extra bar which allows you to easily navigate through the document. This bar has no thumbnails and will slide out of sight if  not used  for a certain amount of time. GoodReader can allow you to view two pages at the same time. This feature can come in handy when you want to skim through a document, but if you really want to take your time to read something, the size of the letters will exhaust your eyes quickly. Just like the two other apps, GoodReader has a list with all bookmarks, but this list will disappear the moment you jump to a bookmark. Reopening the bookmark will take some effort. GoodReader is generally not bad to use for reading, but sometimes struggles with large images and graphs. GoodReader also is a bit slower to open and navigate larger files than the other two apps.


Expert PDF
Expert PDF is also suitable to read files with. Just like the other two applications, this program has an extra bar you can use to navigate a document. This bar is less practical than the bar used in iAnnotate PDF in the sense of a lack of thumbnails, although the bar does not disappear after a single use or no use for a short period of time. Expert PDF allows you to scroll sideways by default, but can allow vertical scrolling once enabled in the settings menu. Of all three apps, Expert PDF has the best bookmark navigation. Simply pressing a button allows you to view a list with bookmarks. Even after choosing a bookmark, this list will remain on-screen. Expert PDF is the only application without the ability to open multiple files at the same time. Opening and loading files into Expert PDF takes little time.

We recommend using iAnnotate PDF for the reading of files. iAnnotate contains almost all of the functionality from the other two apps combined, and allows for very fast and fluid navigation through a document.


Ease of editing

iAnnotate PDF

gesproken annotations met iAnnotate PDF

gesproken annotations met iAnnotate PDF

iAnnotate PDF has a very clear, customizable menu, allowing you to change which buttons are at what position on the screen, thus allowing you to always have the features at hand you use the most. This application has all the standard functions such as making annotations, underlining, highlighting and many more. iAnnotate allows you to add all kinds of images into the document and even allows you to add spoken notes to the document. Furthermore, iAnnotate allows you to also add bookmarks to the document, although the process of adding a bookmark is rather tiresome if you haven't put the bookmark function onto the taskbar. To conclude: iAnnotate PDF is very suitable for editing your files in many different ways.


Expert PDF

undo knop in Expert PDF

undo knop in Expert PDF

Expert PDF is somewhat more simple and less elaborate than iAnnotate PDF when it comes to editing documents. Expert PDF has a very user-friendly menu which allows you to make notes, highlight certain parts of a document and add simple shapes (blocks, circles, arrows). Expert PDF allows you to also make use of stamps. Of all the apps listed here, Expert PDF is the only application with an undo/redo button which allows you to undo a mistake easily. Expert PDF also has an eraser feature which allows you to fine-tune drawings or remove any additions to the document. Expert PDF can also make bookmarks. One press of a button creates another bookmark. Furthermore, Expert PDF can display all the additions to the document in a clear overview of the file. Whilst all other applications allow you to choose from a wide range of colors, Expert PDF allows you to choose from only 9 different colors for additions to the document.


freehand drawing met GoodReader

freehand drawing met GoodReader

GoodReader is good enough for simple additions such as highlighting parts of the text, making notes and simple shapes. Goodreader can also be used to create bookmarks. Just like Expert PDF this is done through a single button press. Although GoodReader is a solid program to edit files with, it lacks the details such as the undo-button from Expert PDF or the many different features from iAnnotate PDF. GoodReader has one golden redeeming feature however, called 'Freehand Drawing', which allows you to zoom into a certain part of the text allowing you to make very accurate annotations. Just like Expert PDF, GoodReader can display all the changes made to the document in an overview.

The best applications for file editing are iAnnotate and PDF. They offer many features and are more practical and faster in use than GoodReader.



icon Expert PDFAlthough all three apps have their strengths and weaknesses, we recommend you to use Expert PDF. This application is by far the most user friendly, which is the most important factor in our comparison. iAnnotate earns second place, with GoodReader earning third place. We have summarized our conclusions below:


1. Expert PDF
Out of all three applications, Expert PDF is the most user-friendly. File management is extremely easy, and file editing is very simple. Although Expert PDF offers less features, this reader/editor should cover most of your needs.

+ Undo/redo functionality
+ Fastest and easiest application for the creation of bookmarks
+ Userfriendly

- Can only open one document at a time
- Not very nice to scroll through pages with

2. iAnnotate PDF
iAnnotate PDF allows you to view files the easiest out of the three apps. As its name suggests, iAnnotate gives you the most features when it comes down to editing files. Although you probably won't use all the features, if you have the time to, you will be able to do wonderful things with this application.

+ Incredible amount of possibilities for document editing
+ Very pleasant to read documents with
+ Can open multiple files at the same time for multitasking purposes

- Inconvenient file management
- Requires a lot of customizing before it can be used to its fullest potential

3. GoodReader
Goodreader is well-functioning application, with an incredibly good drawing tool. Besides this, it is also the cheapest out of the bunch, even though the difference between these apps is just €4. You might want to spend the money you save on this application buying a more user-friendly app or an app with more features.

+ Inexpensive
+ Very well-designed drawing tool
+ Can open multiple files at the same time for multitasking purposes 

- Menus disappear quickly and require some effort to retrieve
- Long loading times for larger files
- Has a less intuitive and user-friendly interface than the other two.


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