Paper, one of the original iPad PDF medical literature apps, gets a major update

Purpose of App Review

  • To review the usability of the Papers3 as a mobile reference manager
  • To compare Papers3 to its predecessors (previous review in 2011 available here)

Introduction

For any healthcare professional, there is never a shortage of new articles to be read and old articles to refresh your memories with.

With a small collection of papers and articles, simple folders on a computer may suffice.

When your PDF library of medical literature increases, a reference manager becomes an important organizational tool.

The Papers3 app builds on the Papers mobile app with additional features and a redesigned user interface.

User Interface

The Papers3 app, like the Papers app, can be used separate from or in conjunction with the Mac OS Papers 3 app.

On first use of the app, you can import your library from the original Papers iOS app if you have such a library. You can also sync the Papers3 app with your Dropbox-based Papers 3 for Mac OS app. If this is your first use of Mekentosj products, the app will set up a Dropbox folder for your repository or you can keep the data on your iPhone.

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I have upgraded to Papers3 from Papers, but have also upgraded my Mac-based Papers system. I synced my Papers3 mobile app with Papers 3 for Mac OS app, which allowed me to download the metadata for all 4200+ articles in my Papers library.

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The Home page of the app gives you access to the all of the app’s features and all of the app’s articles. Unlike the original Papers app, Papers3 is almost all icon based and does not use the same split-screen with your collections and search options to one side.

To access your collections (or to make your collections), you select the manila folder icon. Doing so allows you to navigate to the collection of interest and see only those articles.

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The star, person, and book icons allow you to see articles you starred, see articles organized by author, or see articles organized by sources.

2013-11-03 06.39.19The app also includes a search function, which allows you to search from a number of search engines as well as Pubmed.

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Once you have found an article, you can import the article into your repository. From this screen though, you cannot add the article into a particular collection.
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If you have an article in your Dropbox, you can import that by selecting the down arrow icon.

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The app also allows you to email your library as a PDF, Endnote XML, BibTeX, and RIS.

2013-11-03 06.55.09The cloud icon allows you to download the PDF versions of the articles in your library.

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Upon selecting an article, the app will automatically download the PDF if possible, although you may have to guide the app to download the PDF from a specific website. If the PDF is on your Dropbox, the app will download it and open the PDF.

At the PDF level, you can

  • add notes
  • highlight/underline/strikethrough
  • write using your finger or stylus
  • look at the article’s metadata
  • share the article (through printing, social websites, email, etc.)

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Evidence and literature used to support app

  • N/A

Price

  • $9.99

Likes

  • ability to sync with Dropbox
  • no limits on number of articles
  • ability to sync highlights and other annotations with the Mac OS app

Dislikes

  • user interface not as straightforward as previous version
  • cannot be used with the Mac OS Papers 1 app

Healthcare providers that would benefit from the app

  • Healthcare providers and researchers who prefer apps to organize their PDF and other article repository

Conclusion

  • The Papers3 app for the iPhone and iPad updates additional important features that are bringing me back to using Papers for my article and PDF repository – the ability to synchronize highlights and notes, ability to use Dropbox for your library repository, ease of collection creation.
  • The iPhone app appears to be less stable than the iPad app. The iPad app is inherently easier to use for reading and annotating purposes.
  • While the app can be used as a standalone product, its greatest utility comes from using it with the Mac OS based Papers 3 app.

Type of Device used to review app – iPhone 4S
Version of App: 3.0.2 and 3.0.27

iTunes Link

Rating: 3/5
1. User Interface – 2.  Compared to Papers, less easy to navigate. User tools are icon, rather than word driven. Highlighting, underlining features somewhat difficult to use.
2. Multimedia usage – 3.  Utilizes split screen and clean transitions, although the app currently tends to run slow on its transitions.
3. Price – 3.  At $9.99, it is less expensive than the Papers mobile app.
4. Real world applicability – 4.  Less likely to use iPhone app compared to iPad app each day.

Disclaimer:
This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your health care provider.

Author:

Kelli Barbour MD
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