In December 2015, I reviewed LiquidText, an iPad productivity app for reading PDF documents. At the time, I wrote that “LiquidText is a simple, useful app for highlighting text…but it doesn’t let you draw annotations using Apple Pencil.”
As of March 14, that’s no longer the case. The latest version of the iPad-only LiquidText app enables freehand inking with Apple Pencil and an iPad Pro. And with this significant update, LiquidText may just be the app for reviewing and annotating PDFs using Apple’s tablet and stylus.
Among the app’s most compelling features:
You can now freehand draw or write on a document imported from Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud Drive, or a web browser. Supported document types are Word, PowerPoint and PDFs.
Other apps such as Notability and OneNote let you annotate documents in freehand style with Apple Pencil. But LiquidText one-ups them in a few ways.
Imported documents in LiquidText have a workspace on the right-hand side. You can highlight portions of a document and drag and drop copies of those excerpts into the workspace, to call attention to them.
Even cooler, you can draw a line from an object or excerpt in the workspace to another place in the document. The line will literally connect the two with a live link, regardless of how far apart they are. As you scroll through the document, the connected content in the workspace stays visible. You can also group objects in the workspace in whatever way makes sense or adds context. It’s a bit hard to describe, frankly. The video below should give you some idea.
You can also draw a circle or box around a specific part of a document — a paragraph, say, or a chart. To the bottom left, a small button appears. Tap the bottom to drag your excerpt to the workspace.
When you’re done drawing or annotating, you can share the document as a LiquidText file; export it as a PDF, with your workspace included; or export your workspace notes as a Word file — which I don’t find as compelling as the PDF option.
Though LiquidText is free, you’ll need to make in-app purchases to reap the app’s full benefits. If you want the capability to view multiple documents, it’s currently $5. LiquidText Pro, which enables the inking, is currently $10 (or $5 if you’ve bought multiple document support). The developer says those prices are likely to rise within the month. But if you regularly need to annotate PDFs or other documents, you want to maximize your iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, and you like the workspace concept, LiquidText is well worth the price.
James A. Martin is a seasoned tech journalist and blogger based in San Francisco and winner of the 2014 ASBPE National Gold award for his CIO.com blog. He writes CIO.com's Living the Tech Life blog and is also a content marketing consultant.