I promised to write some on the use of Apple’s iPhone in an academic setting. Now, I have found one that allows you to read .PDF articles when on the road, provided that they are uploaded to MobileMe. It’s a free application, and it will serve many reading-needs untill existing software such as BibDesk or Papers will incorporate iPhone utilities, which of course would be really nice. For now, we will have to rely on MobileFiles.
MobileFiles is freely available from the App store and coonects to your MobileMe account easily. Just enter your username and password, and that’s it. The interface is clean and initially shows your online iDisk, as well as files that are stored locally on your iPhone. Using a structure similar to the Finder, it is easy to find your files. Once found, you can store them on your iPhone, or open them directly, provided that the iPhone can read them. And yes, the iPhone can rezd .PDF files.
I use BibDesk to automatically store my articles, and I previously explained how to sync those with MobileMe. So, when I go the the folder in which I store my articles, I can easily read them, wherever I am. Sure, heavy reading on such a small screen is not very comfortable, but it does well when a quick reference is what you need. All the usual benefits of the iPhone interface are available: you can pinch to zoom in or out, when you rotate the device the article’s orientation also changes, and you can rotate single pages easily, again with the multitouch interface. Scrolling large articles can be a bit slow, especially concerning older articles which are basically scanned versions of the paper edition. The only thing missing is the ability to take notes. For that, I guess we’ll have to wait for the iPhone version of Skim.