UPAD is a brilliant iPad application from Pockeysoft that combines three applications into one: its a note-taking app, PDF annotator, and a simple photo-editing application.
UPAD is one of many note-taking applications available in the App Store that allows users to use their own personal handwriting rather than typing when inputting data. Because of the immense capabilities of the iPad, applications such as UPAD began appearing in the App Store, with the goal of replacing the “traditional pen and paper” setup with the iPad. True enough, most of these applications show great potential, and most of them have their own respective handwriting engines that transforms the iPad to a digital notepad.
And if you are like me, most probably you have tested those applications. And I am pretty sure that just like me, you have found that most applications lack a certain feature that could otherwise make them a winner; Most applications are “too complicated,” adding to many features that makes the handwriting experience lag, hence failing to mimic the feel of a pen and paper. Some however have excellent handwriting experience, but fails to mimic the “control” of the pen and paper, often resulting in ugly notes because the writing experience is “too fluid and loose.” And yet some captures the perfect mixture of fluidity and control feel of a pen and paper, but drops out the essential features such as notes organization, connectivity, etc.
So what makes UPAD any different? UPAD boasts as having the most advanced handwriting engine in any note-taking application, and I agree. Upon firing up the application, you are presented with a UI that perfectly mimics a traditional notepad. Users have the option to choose their own background images for theirs notes. If you prefer to “type away long notes” instead of writing them, then all you have to do is to click the “text box” tool of UPAD and you can type notes as long as you want, as many as you want to.
But what really separates UPAD from all the other apps is its handwriting engine. UPAD perfectly mimics the feel of writing on a piece of paper. The movement and experience is fluid, without feeling out of control, just like a piece of paper. Another breakthrough feature of UPAD is the ability to “zoom in” while writing handwritten notes. This feature allows users to really write very fine notes, and the tool even has a “move ahead feature.” The “Move Ahead” feature automatically shifts the focus of the zoom while you are writing once your have reached the end of your “zoom text box.” This translates to a very smooth and realistic writing experience, again, just like a piece of paper! The handwriting engine is also great for writing handwritten notes with your fingers, but just like its competitors, UPAD is best used with an iPad – compatible stylus.
UPAD offers standard formatting options for both typewritten and handwritten entries such as line color, font styling and line thickness. UPAD also has two erasers; one that erases entire strokes and one that mimics the feel of a real eraser. Both erasers work perfectly.
Despite its excellent handwriting engine, UPAD does not skip out on important features. Notes can be easily organized into folders for better sorting, and all notes can be exported in PDF, UPAD file type, and as a picture in your camera roll. UPAD can also export your notes directly to Google and Dropbox, and they can also be emailed as well. UPAD also has its own backup facility; backups can be offloaded via iTunes file sharing for safekeeping.
But it doesn’t stop there. UPAD is also an excellent PDF annotator! Yes that is right. The same handwriting engine and text box tool can be used in PDF files. So now you easily sign and fill up those PDF forms, or even have your own digital desktop calendar; By using a Weekly or Monthly PDF Calendar file you can add notes to individual days just like the traditional desktop calendar! UPAD can also import photos into the application, allowing the user to harness the same impressive engine and add comments, tag lines, etc. to their photos. Photos, PDF files and Notes are all sorted appropriately in different tabs upon opening the application.
As good as it is, UPAD is not completely perfect. One area in which UPAD can improve on is its presentation of your different folders for your notes, PDF’s and photos. Currently UPAD employs a simple UI in managing your folders. Sometimes though, the UI is too “simple,” and nice additions such as a preview of the folder contents (much like the iWork Suite) could make organizing your notes and other documents a lot easier. Also some of UPAD’s controls are again oversimplified.
Tooltips or simple labels could be added. This is most evident in the tab selection for your notes, PDF files and photos: there are no labels or tooltips identifying which is which. Better icons could also help, if labels or tooltips are hard to incorporate in the application’s design. Adding some “reasonable” eye candy (such as folder transitions) though not really necessary could add a “fun factor” to UPAD. As it is, UPAD sometimes feels too monotonous or straightforward. Adding such “eye candies” helps improve a user’s overall experience within an application, which is almost as important as the main application’s intended purpose.
Putting those somewhat minor flaws, one other potential setback for UPAD is the price. UPAD is currently priced at $4.99. This is not overly expensive, nor too cheap, but I sincerely believe that cutting down the price even by $1.00 can really make UPAD highly competitive in the App Store market. It is noteworthy to mention however, that Pockeysoft offers UPAD lite, a free version of UPAD which has all the functionalities of UPAD, but it only allows users to keep 4 notes. This is a big plus to Pockeysoft and UPAD, since users can have a “try before you buy” experience.
Final Thoughts: UPAD is an excellent 3 – in – 1 application with the most advanced handwriting engine. Its a definite most buy for those looking for a note – taking, PDF annotator, and simple photo editing applications.
– Impressive handwriting engine with the right “pen and paper” feel
– 3 apps in 1!
– fully featured
– multiple connectivity and export options for your documents
– UPAD Lite is a free version of UPAD allowing users a “try before you
– Oversimplified UI making the application “monotonous.”
– No “fun factor” due to lack of any eye candy that can make the user
experience more enjoyable.
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