Papers for iPhone, a brief review

Papers, from Mekentosj, is a literature management program for Mac. It organises pdfs into a searchable library, and stores the appropriate metadata associated with scientific articles (which it retrieves from public repositories such as PubMed, though in practise you can tag any document with any metadata).

I have been a Papers user since v1.0. I bought my license in April ’07 and have not looked back, it makes it so much easier to find that particular paper you are after, to organise papers by subject or project, and it even converted me to reading articles on the screen, rather than printing everything out.

I haven’t had an iPhone for very long, and it is safe to say it is by far the most impressive gadget I have ever owned. I am aware of its imperfections, but I don’t care, they are either in areas I don’t use anyway (I’ve never sent an MMS in my life), or they haven’t affected me yet (though I probably will curse the lack of Copy-Paste at some point). I have been thinking about the impending release of Papers for the iPhone ever since I got it, and wondering if it would (a) be any good and (b) add anything to the already high value of Papers for Mac.

iphone_pocketThe answer to both questions is a resounding yes so far. The app is lovely, very intuitive and smooth. Syncing my Papers library to my phone was a doddle, and my (not inconsiderable) library was copied across in less than 10 minutes. Now my article collection is quite literally at my fingertips. Searching PubMed on the phone and retrieving papers also works really well. Find the paper you want, click import, and you’re done. The viewer is good too, pdfs render quickly and clearly. My only criticism is that zooming in can be a little cumbersome, but I suspect this is a hardware, rather than software, limitation.

Although I have yet to spend a lot of time with it, I don’t regret my purchase of Papers for iPhone for a second (and £5.99 is a very reasonable price btw), I think that I will get so many more articles read now I can summon them at the press of a button on my bus ride home every evening. All I need now is the full range of my institution’s journal subscriptions available to me over my 3G connection.

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