1. cjvitek's Avatar
    Papers, by mekentosj.com
    $14.99, ****

    Pros:

    Access to major search indices
    Ability to store and access scientific manuscripts on your iPhone/iPad

    Cons:
    Can only sync with a Mac (and only if you have Papers for Mac)
    Cant load your own pdfs that you may have downloaded.


    For those of us in the field of any science or technology (and yes, I am including the soft sciences), you may often find yourself wishing you have a copy of some random manuscript at odd times. Most recently, I was in Cancun at a conference, and I was talking to someone about the mosquito genome, and I couldnt recall if the Aedes aegypti genome had been sequences yet. For people who may have found themselves in that position, Papers is the app for you.

    Papers for the iPhone and iPad is a professional source of obtaining scientific and professional publications from a variety of journals. It allows you to maintain constant access to any scientific literature. Cant recall a certain paper? Simply download it and have it at your fingertips! Papers serves as both a method to search common scientific databases, as well as download articles of interest to your library.

    For the search features, you can search for any keyword from a variety of sources including Web of Science, PubMed, and even Google Scholar. Unfortunately, you cant choose the type of keyword (author name, subject, title, etc) but that isnt really needed the app will automatically just search those databases for any mention of the word you are looking for. You choose a single database to search, and the results will appear. As with most of these scientific databases, you need to have either an account or university-level access to actually download the manuscript, but if you do, you can then keep the manuscript in your library. You can keep important papers in your library (organized by author or journal).

    Once you have a manuscript in your library, you can peruse it whenever you want. You can also add bookmarks, make notations about the manuscript basically all the stuff you can do if you were read a hard copy of the manuscript.

    Unfortunately, there are two main issues with this app, one of which is not the apps fault, and one of which is. The first issue is accessing the manuscripts and databases. The app does allow for your to set up a proxy account from your University, so that you can access the databases even if you arent on the school network, but it is a confusing process (maybe just for me, as I have never done it!). I havent yet successfully managed to set it up, but part of that is due to my library (and their lack of assistance).

    The other issue is with synching papers you already own/download. If you have a Mac, and IF you have purchased Papers for Mac, you can sync you existing library of PDFs. However, if you dont, you have no way of syncing these manuscripts. So I have a number of manuscripts that I have been sent, or downloaded on my own, but I cant send them to my mobile library because I dont have the proper software. Ideally there would be some way to sync existing PDFs even if you dont have a Mac or dont have the Mac software.

    Papers is a universal binary (and thus, this is my first review in the iPad apps forum, also posted to the iPhone apps forum). The app design is similar in both devices, but reading the papers and accessing the manuscripts in the databases on the iPad is really nice. I am glad to see you dont have to purchase a special Papers HD or something to use it on the iPad. Please note, the pictures of the app are from the iPhone version - the iPad version is basically the same, just more real estate.

    All in all, however, this is a useful apps for people who may need to access scholarly journals. The ability to have instant access to manuscripts, and the ability to search well known databases for manuscripts can be surprisingly useful. At $14.99, the app is far from cheap, although it is a universal binary and works on both the iPhone and iPad (expensive for iPhone, reasonable for iPad). For people who use these resources, Papers is a useful tool to have at your arsenal. Four out of five stars.

    Rating scale:

    * = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
    ** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
    *** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
    **** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
    ***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
    05-20-2010 03:50 PM
  2. cparnot's Avatar
    Hi, I work with Mekentosj. I just wanted to add that as of version 1.6, PDFs can now be added to your papers library either (1) using the iTunes syncing feature or (2) by using the 'Open in Papers' option from any other program that displays a PDF and support the standard iPhone API for that, which means you can do it from Mail for example. This was added as fast as possible after launch for exactly the resons you mention.

    Thanks for the review and glad you liked Papers!
    05-21-2010 09:39 AM
  3. cjvitek's Avatar
    Sounds good. I will give it a shot.

    Now if only my library can figure out their proxy site!

    Chris
    05-21-2010 11:47 AM
  4. cparnot's Avatar
    In any case, let us know how it goes...

    mekentosj.com/contact
    05-23-2010 01:06 AM
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