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A disclaimer: I am not an authority on mobile apps which help read, review and annotate PDFs. My previous approaches to reading PDFs included either a side effect of killing trees or zombie-ing out in front of my admittedly large 27” monitor.
But I think I found a way to review PDFs in a better way. I can do it on my iPad and it is really easy.
Cabinet is a mobile app for iPad, which allows you to upload, read, annotate, and share the PDF documents in a simple manner. It has been developed by an Eastern European software development company called C.T.Co.
In 2011 and 2012 we at GoalEurope were on a lookout for technology innovation within outsourcing sector, and we found many examples, C.T.Co being one of them. The company employs over 400 people in Latvia and Belarus, and has Swiss Re as one of its main outsourcing clients. In the past it has worked on a number of mobile applications for the Enterprise sector, and has now put its expertise in UX and B2B knowledge into its new division which will develop mobile apps for enterprise clients under the brand of Enterprise Mobility Solutions. Cabinet is its first app.
So, my first question was how to get a PDF into the Cabinet app. You can either open the file from your email, copy a link from the web, or open the file in the Safari browser directly into Cabinet. I had to upload my PDF document into Google docs (usually I keep my documents on my hard drive, safe and sound). From Safari I could then open it under the tab “Open in…” which appears at the top of Safari browser. It gave me options to open it with Evernote, iBooks, Kindle and then Cabinet. Evernote failed to start, Kindle asked for account details, iBooks obliged and Cabinet opened it as well, ready for annotation and commenting.
If you are trying to open the Google doc file by copy-pasting the link into the Import tab on the app, it will not work. For more options you can read available user guides within Cabinet.
Once you imported the file, it is very easy to get a hang on using the annotation tools: markers, pencils or commenting tabs. See the video above for more details. Then you can send the original document, annotations or the annotated PDF via email.
You can also collaborate with other iPads in the range, but I did not test that function. I did try to use crop function however but the app crashed on me, requiring me to reboot the iPad completely (twice).
In the interview Sergey Zabaluev, the business development director of the C.T.Co emphasized that the team put most of the focus on the simplicity of using the app, which he believes differentiates Cabinet from many other PDF annotation apps out there. What he said in fact was that “Those apps give users too many tools, too many choices, which leads to a more complex UI and essentially breaks the mind flow of a business worker.” My thinking remained intact, as I played around with it but so far no more than 10 minutes.
As for the pricing, I am still not clear about the business model: is the company going to offer bulk licensing for enterprise clients or position the app as a personal productivity tool that professionals purchase on their own account? I suppose sales and marketing approach will differ greatly for those two options. Zabaluev says that they are still thinking about the pricing and monetization options. For now the price of the app will be set at $5, but if you hurry, it is still only $1 for a few days. I paid for it.
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vita at goaleurope dot com