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Hands on with Remarks, a remarkable iPad PDF annotation app

App developer Readdle has been very busy lately. A big update arrived recently for its PDF Expert software, and now the company is also launching a brand new note-taking and PDF (s ADBE) annotation iPad (s AAPL) app called Remarks. Here’s a hands on look at what the app offers users.

Remarks, like PDF Expert, offers PDF annotation and filling tools, but it’s a much more streamlined tool than that app, with a focus on making it easy to mark up and share documents, as well as create your own notes and notebooks independent of any pre-existing PDFs that can also be marked up and shared with other Remarks users for collaborative work.

Remarks is that rare beast among PDF tools, either on or off the iPad: it features a simple, straightforward interface and everything work very quickly, with speedy response times for turning pages, adding notes, and basically anything else you’d want to do. Tools, including pens, highlighters, preset shapes and text entry, are clearly labeled with simple icons, and there’s no visual clutter or wealth of unnecessary options to distract you from what you actually need to get done.

Sharing may be one of Remarks’ best feature. Using email, you can easily share documents with other Remarks users, including annotated PDFs and notes created in the app itself. But in an upcoming update, Readdle is planning to introduce Dropbox, and other cloud storage sharing options, too, making it even more convenient for doing collaborative work.

Paired with a Bluetooth keyboard or stylus, Remarks is even more useful. It features effective accidental touch or wrist-detection, meaning you can write naturally with a stylus without worrying about drawing in the wrong place, and regular Mac key shortcuts like Command+C, Command+V and Command+A work with keyboard text input.

Remarks allows flexibility in creating notes and notebooks, allowing you to rearrange pages as you add them or after the fact, but it doesn’t overwhelm with options like other iPad notebook offerings. And since it’s also a full-fledged PDF annotation tool, and one that can be used collaboratively, it’s probably one of the most versatile iPad apps for students, and a fairly inexpensive one at $4.99.

13 Responses to “Hands on with Remarks, a remarkable iPad PDF annotation app”

  1. How does this compare to Goodreader in terms of features? I am a medical student who has gone completely paperless and I depend on Goodreader to annotate the heck out of lecture slides, lab manuals, etc.

  2. Cindy Graham

    I need an app like this in my teaching. I am wondering if the zoom window shows up when you hook it up to a projector or if the PDF image remains static, showing only the writing? Has anyone tried it out?

  3. Ramon B. Nuez Jr.

    Remarks sounds like a great tool. I have been looking for an app that would allow me to annotate PDF documents. But Remarks takes it steps forward. Now, why would you still buy PDF Expert? When remarks sounds like it does more?

    • Denys Zhadanov

      Ramon, they are essentially different. PDF Expert is much more powerful in terms of work with PDFs, it allows to fill forms, sign, annotate. While Remarks is more suitable for the majority of users who need to casually annotate, create notes and draw sketches.

      I hope that helps. :)

      • Evan Blackford

        This sounds useful. I doubt I’ll be able to get my whole team to adopt it though. So…how useful is Remarks for sharing comments with non-Remarks users? Does it export notes that can be viewed in Acrobat?

        And by the way, shame on Adobe for not improving native Acrobat Pro annotation over all these years. Ever had to print out a marked up PDF and then try to match up the comments with the document?

      • Denys Zhadanov


        Collaborative comments and workflow is one of the core features of Remarks! Everything will be saved in PDF format, so other users can view your notes and annotations on their PCs, Macs and iPads, using Adobe, Goodreader, ReaddleDocs, etc.

        Never tried, to be honest ;)