Best Android App to Annotate Documents: Moon+ Reader
I am a bookworm sometimes and I also have things that I study for meetings during the week. My reading needs are mostly met by the Amazon Kindle app. I just like that app and either purchase my ebooks through that store or I convert my ebooks to work in that reader. This review is not about the Amazon Kindle app.
As I mentioned, I have some things to study on a weekly basis. Since I have an Android tablet I figured why not see how it works out to use that for studying? So far, it has been interesting. I wouldn't rely on this tablet as my only source of studying the material. Not yet, anyway. That is mainly to do with the quality of my tablet.
Any way, back to business. I needed an app that would allow me to:
Make notes inside an epub or pdf document.
Sync with my phone as backup and in case I have time to work on my studies but don't have my tablet with me.
Sync with Dropbox/Google Drive (or other cloud storage option) to back it all up.
Moon+ Reader Pro
After much reading and testing, I settled on Moon+ Reader Pro. It will allow me to do everything I mentioned above. Also, I use EPUB'S almost exclusively and it will work with EPUB and the pro version will also work with PDF. So, I downloaded the free version and used it for two weeks as my primary source for studying the aforementioned information. As mentioned in the article about my gtablet, I suffered some crashes, lockups and meltdowns and spent a great deal of time formatting and re-installing. Not because of this app, because of my tablet. Needless to say, I lost my notations a couple of times before it dawned on my brain to back it up. The free version does allow you to backup everything and then you just save that file and restore it when you re-install Moon+ after fixing your tablet/phone.
How to: Highlight Text
So, tablet issues aside, I downloaded my study material for that week in EPUB format and began studying the lesson. It took a few tries to figure out how to make the highlighting work correctly. I am not one to read directions until after I have tried to figure it out myself, thanks dad! I don't know if there are written directions for Moon+ Reader or not. I finally realized you need to:
- Long-touch the text you want to highlight and then you will see the color highlight the text with a beginning marker and an ending marker.
- Grab the ending marker and drag it to the end of the text you want highlighted.
- Touch the popup where it says 'Highlight'.
- A box opens and you touch (or choose from the color picker) which color you want or choose 'Underline' or 'Strikethrough'.
- Touch 'Save'. Also, you can highlight the wanted text and long-touch on the word 'Highlight'.
Viola! Text marked. It sounds like it might be awkward and more time consuming than you would want, but once you learn how to do it, it really is just a moment and then your ready to continue. If you decide you marked the wrong text, just long-touch the highlighted text and then touch 'Delete' on the popup.
How to: Make Notes
If you want to make a note:
- long-touch where you want the notation to be linked.
- When the popup shows, touch Note.
- A box will open and the keyboard, and you can type in your note.
- Touch Save and you're done.
Now you will see a little transparent sticky on the document where you linked the note. To delete it, do the same as for highlighting, long-touch and then touch Delete on the popup.
Other Markup Options
There are other choices too when you long-touch the text. This program has the ability to look up words in the dictionary, but you have to plan ahead on this one. You can set it up to use Dictionary.com or you can download dictionary files from some dictionary I have never heard of. I have Merriam-Webster Dictionary installed already on my phone and tablet, I wish it was an option for this program to use that dictionary as it is well known and trusted.
If you do not plan ahead and install these files, you won't be able to look up the word on a device that doesn't have a data plan or if you aren't on a Wifi network.
How to: Back up or Sync
Backing up was a bit problematic at first. I finally figured out that I hadn't set up the options correctly. Go to your book shelf and open a book. Touch the menu and choose 'Miscellaneous' and scroll down through this option menu to the bottom. The second to last check box says 'Sync reading positions via Dropbox'. Check this option and then touch the gear icon to the right. If you haven't linked to your Dropbox, touch the 'Link to Dropbox' button at the top and give it permission. Then check 'Backup book file to Dropbox' and check 'Update to recent list of new phones/tablets'. Touch OK and then back at the 'Miscellaneous' menu touch the back symbol in the upper right corner. Now, when you go to the options and choose backup or restore, it will simply back up your reading positions/notations and highlights to Dropbox. It doesn't actually back up the books. If you have a book on the tablet but not on your phone, backing up from the tablet and then restoring on the phone will not put that book on your phone.
It still isn't a perfect sync. In my mind, sync should go both ways evenly. If I make notes on the phone, they sync on the tablet. If I open that same book and edit those notes on the tablet, they should sync with the phone and be changed there also. So far, that is not the case. I can get the edits to sync one way but not both ways. Make changes on the phone or tablet and it syncs with the other device. But, if I then make a change on that device, it doesn't sync back to the first one. Let me explain it this way:
Open book and highlight a sentence. Close book and go back to library. App then syncs with Dropbox very quickly, you barely even know it happens. Close App. Put down tablet, pickup Phone.
Open app and open same book in library. Prompt pops up that there is a newer reading position, do you want to update? Choose OK and it syncs with Dropbox. Now the book shows the same highlight as made on the tablet. Ok, now delete that highlight. Close book and return to library, app syncs with Dropbox when you do that. Put down phone, pickup tablet.
On tablet again:
Open app and open same book again. There is no prompt for a newer reading position and the highlight initially made on the tablet that was removed on the phone is still highlighted on the tablet.
Does that make sense now? I haven't figured out yet what is wrong. I just know that if I want to be sure the changes are saved each time, I just go to the menu and do a backup manually and then restore manually when I get to the other device. This seems to work for sure.
Overall, it works, though not perfectly. I haven't found an app that does what I need better than Moon+ Reader Pro. Here is a link to this developers website for this app, HERE. Here is a link to it in the Google Play Store, HERE.
I am giving it 3 out of 5 stars. It does what I want but it's not very intuitive. I know the developer is constantly trying to improve it and any time I have asked questions, he has been very quick to respond and help solve the problem or answer questions. That tells me that even though it may have quirks now, it's worth keeping up with. In time, it will be exactly what I need.
If you try it out and have better results, let me know please!