With the advent of the new iPad, I’m also introducing a major update to PDF Highlighter. Of course it takes full advantage of the new Retina display, but there are also a lot of other new features in this release.
The most visible new feature is the addition of a new annotation type: voice memos. They behave very similar to the text notes that have been there from day one – an icon represents them on the page and you can tap it to listen to the recording or move the icon by touching and holding.
The interface for actually recording a voice memo is very simple and if you’ve ever used a dictaphone, you should feel right at home.
For the technically inclined: The audio is recorded in the AAC format and embedded directly into the PDF, so that they are automatically included when you send a document via email or upload it to Dropbox. Unfortunately, not many other PDF apps support embedded audio, so you need the free Adobe Reader to listen to them on your Mac or PC.
The other big feature is text recognition (OCR) for scanned documents. Many scanned documents are actually just images (very similar to photos), and to enable regular text selection, the app first has to find out where the text is on the page. This can take a couple of seconds per page, but it makes working with the document a lot smoother afterwards as you don’t have to rely on imprecise sketching to highlight important things in the text.
To make the process as fast as possible, the text recognition that is done before you can select text is actually just a layout analysis that doesn’t process any linguistic information. When you copy text from such a document, the actual text recognition is done automatically and you can correct any recognition errors easily.
There are quite a few other improvements in this release that I want to mention briefly:
- Sketches can now also be drawn with a translucent highlighter pen.
- The system dictionary that you might know from iBooks can now also be used in Highlighter, instead of Wikipedia (this feature is only available if you use iOS 5).
- Sticky notes can have different colors and icons (checkmark, star, question mark etc.).
- The annotation overview also shows notes that are attached to a highlight (via the “+ Note” menu item) and sketches.
- You can send an email with a text summary of all your annotations (this has been requested a lot).
Highlighter 1.5 is currently in Apple’s review and should appear on the App Store within 1-2 weeks. I really hope it gets approved before the new iPad ships on Friday, but I’m not sure if that will work out.
I really hope these improvements make your work and study easier and more enjoyable.
Update: The new version has now been approved and is available as a free update from the App Store.