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Why do all Android pdf readers suck!!?


Jan 31, 2011
I have spent hours evaluating the popular pdf readers and I am frustrated with all of them. I tried Adobe Reader, Dataviz Documents To Go, RepliGo, ezPDF and some minor readers.

NONE of them allows me to zoom into a pdf file and lock that zoom and let me swipe to go to the next page without the page moving sideways. with every swipe I have to reposition the page so that all the text is centered in the screen.

Then I get all the notices in my face every I swipe. That page # indicator. The - & + zoom level indicator every time I touch the screen. I know the zoom level. Why do I have to see it every time. Just lock that level and I will be happy.

Some readers show permanent stuff like the pdf file name at the top. As if I don't know which pdf file I have open!

What's annoying these readers do not have settings to disable these notices. I can't turn them off.

These designers/developers need to learn a usability lesson or two. The Android devices have small screens. This means remove anything that distracts the user from what they are doing. I am reading a pdf. So remove anything that's not related to me reading. If I need an option, I can bring up ON DEMAND. Don't keep putting all those indicators on top of what I am trying to read.

I doubt these developers tried to read a pdf for an extended period of time!? Otherwise these usability issues would not have been there. They need to add all kinds of off/on settings so that that the majority of users can tweak the app to their preferences.

I couldn't find a single pdf reader where I can just swipe each page upward and get the next page without any kind of indicator or the page moving sideways, unless I do a perfect 90 degree vertical swipe!

The pdf page needs to fill the screen. I don't want to see margins or permanent toolbars which take valuable screen space. The screen is already small enough and I don't have a hawk vision to look at fine text.

The cleanest and most convenient reading experience on the Android was the RepliGo in text view mode. Although I wished the page view had horizontal or zoom level locking. I like the page view because it keeps the original pdf layout without reflowing like the text view. The pdf's I read are computer books with source code, images, charts, annotations that are on the sides .. etc.

I use the iRead on the iTouch and iAnnontate for the iPad (both by same company, adjdev.com) and they are a JOY to use. I pinch on the pdf and zoom in until the page fills the screen and a I hit the lock icon. My setting is saved and remembered even between app launches. It remembers the page I last read and it remembers my zoom level and it's locked. PERFECT. PERFECT! These people go it right.

Why can't I get the same experience on the Android!? i am already annoyed with the Archos Android device because I have to use a stylus to get clean swipes. Its resistive screen sucks. The iTouch's capacitive screen is much better. That's another rant!

Sorry for the long rant. I am frustrated.
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I just stumbled across your rant and I have to say that I 100% agree.

By default, a mobile PDF reader should allowing zooming with reflow of text and swipe-type scrolling.

Adobe's stupid PDF is SO BAD. It allows for zoom and reflow, but once you are zoomed in, YOU CANNOT SCROLL!

Yes, all this quality software brought to you by the same people who gave us Flash....oh wait....

Screw you and your stupid formats Adobe. I'm moving everything I have to epub which works exactly the way you would expect..on mobile, on tablets, and on the desktop.
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Mantano Reader remembers the zoom. I can sweep upward or sideward to the next page and it doesn't need a full 90 degree swipe. There isn't a single indicator on the screen (the page indicator is on I think, but I turned it off). You can also set it to hide the notification bar so it fills the entire screen.

As for the rant on the resistive screen on your Archos, its your fault. Why didn't you buy an Android tablet with a capacitive screen, like a Galaxy Tab or HTC Flyer or Motorola Xoom.
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Adobe reader is still more of a convenience app. I had it on the Palm and used to convert broadcast schedules for my boss so he could have them on his Palm.

I use Foxit on the PC.

I don't think Adobe has thought too much about anything else since - probably too busy patching stuff on Windows.

Why don't you search for ratings and check out all the screen shots or email the developer first? Here's Foxit's site. I'm not telling you to buy Foxit, but the site does answer a lot of questions at least. Then you know whether or not you want the app.\
Foxit Mobile PDF Reader for Android - Overview

I like sites like this. More info that you can use
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This is true, it is hard to find a decent PDF reader for Android. I use ezPDF, I am pretty happy about it, but it has its downsides. I have a feeling, that they focused on the annotations and PDF editing rather than on the zooming and viewing.
From the developers point of view: you should really try to contact the PDF app developers. There are some of them in the Google Play, sometimes we just set the wrong priorities for the features we want to implement first.:rolleyes:
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I don't post on this forum often (close to never), but I recently picked up a galaxy note and was looking for a usable PDF reader.
Goddamn, after hours of searching and money wasted, I finally found it. Coming from an iPhone, I have to say that this comes closest to Goodreader.

Mantano reader. This is THE app.

FINALLY, one with a proper scroll lock. Although there's no actual setting to completely "lock" the horizontal scroll, it has a setting that allows you to lock the scroll until you hit a threshold; that is, when you're just scrolling down and accidentally scrolling sideways, it'll lock the scroll, but if you want to actually scroll sideways, it'll allow you to. Much better than simply locking the scroll if you ask me.
Also, there's the "night mode" like many other readers.
The app even properly zooms onto a column when double tapped, again like Goodreader.

I can't really speak for the file system in the app, as I just open all my PDFs from Dropbox to the app, but I doubt that's a dealbreaker for anyone at this point, since no other app nearly functions as good as this one.
I'm not getting paid or anything, just thought I'd throw in my suggestion since I too have stressed over finding a usable PDF reader.
There's a lite version to test, and from what I see the only major difference to the paid one is that the paid one has more functions, like annotations, speaking text, etc. Nothing that most people will miss when they're purely reading.
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Mantano reader. This is THE app.

FINALLY, one with a proper scroll lock. Although there's no actual setting to completely "lock" the horizontal scroll, it has a setting that allows you to lock the scroll until you hit a threshold; that is, when you're just scrolling down and accidentally scrolling sideways, it'll lock the scroll, but if you want to actually scroll sideways, it'll allow you to. Much better than simply locking the scroll if you ask me.

Could someone confirm that there is such functionality ? I can't find it in free version. Maybe it is in premium one but I cannot find out without buying.

BTW, it's ridiculous that 2.5 years after original post there is still no decent pdf reader for Android... I can't understand why Adobe or Foxit didn't implemented such obvious option in their readers.
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Nice rant! (OP probably won't see that since he hasn't been around since November, but I like it.)

I think the last few posts mentioning eBook readers have the right idea. Look for eBook readers that handle PDFs and you will probably find a better reading experience.

EasyPDF (different from ezPDF) kinda does it.
The entire screen is content. If you're zoomed and you pan it will pan across the page instead of flipping pages, but if instead you hit menu you get a slider which you can use to flip pages and it keeps your position. You can turn reflow on and off, too.
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While not a solution, a workaround would be to use something like Calibre, convert to a format of your choice, and choose a reader that behaves as you want it to.

I did a bulk convert of all my pdfs and now use Kindle all the time. Yes, there are some errors, and these are books without images so this may not apply for comic book fans for example.
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I have the same problem like you, for along time
Today, I see good with Mantano Reader (free), may be I will buy pro:

With this option, it will have not horizontal, and smooth scroll:
if is this good for you or you have other needs (I don't good in english and your saying is abit long :) )

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