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PDFpen 2 for iOS Offers New Features along Paid Upgrade Path

Smile has just released a new version of their PDF editing app for iOS — the $19.99 PDFpen 2 — and, as new versions generally do, it offers better performance and more professional features. It also offers something that heretofore has not been possible for apps sold through the App Store: a paid upgrade path. As we’ve discussed before, paid upgrades are essential for developers to fund ongoing software development. Plus, when developers can charge for upgrades, it gives them a significant incentive to meet the needs of current customers, rather than chasing new ones.

To make upgrade prices possible, Smile has taken advantage of a new App Store feature for developers, the ability to sell software bundles (collections of multiple apps), along with another new App Store feature, the ability to offer older versions of their apps to purchasers whose devices cannot run the latest versions of those apps.

Here’s how it works: By making PDFpen 2 require iOS 8, Smile can continue to sell the older versions of PDFpen for iOS (there is one such app for iPhone and another for iPad). And because developers can now offer software bundles, Smile has created two bundles for owners of previous versions of PDFpen. The first is a $19.99 bundle that contains both the old PDFpen for iPhone along with the new PDFpen 2 (a universal app that runs on both iPhone and iPad). The second bundle, for owners of the old PDFpen for iPad, includes both the old iPad app and the new universal app: this bundle costs $21.99.

So, how do those constitute reduced upgrade prices? They work out as reduced prices because the App Store remembers all of your previous purchases, and it takes them into account when you purchase a bundle that contains an app you already bought: the App Store deducts what you paid for the previous purchase from the price you pay for the bundle. For example, if sometime in the past you had bought PDFpen for iPhone (which cost $4.99), you would pay only $15 for the PDFpen 2 Pack for iPhone instead of its $19.99 list price. If you had previously purchased PDFpen for iPad, the PDFpen 2 Pack for iPad would cost you $7 instead of $21.99, since your original payment of $14.99 for the older version of PDFpen for iPad would be deducted.

Because the new PDFpen, from the point of view of iOS, is a new app and not an upgrade to an older app, you can install it on your iOS device without first deleting the older version. And, in fact, you want to do that because when you launch the new app it migrates whatever files the old app kept in its private document storage to the new app. Once that one-time migration takes place, you can delete the older app. If you used iCloud with the previous versions, it’s even better: PDFpen 2 is completely compatible with iCloud and simply picks up the documents from iCloud Drive where they have been all along. It also now supports AirDrop.

And what do you get in PDFpen 2 for your $7, $15, or $19.99? A faster, smoother, more capable app with a streamlined interface (note the enhanced toolbar). All the features in the older apps have been retained, and new ones have been added.

For example, the Object Library, with its useful collection of proofreading marks, has been retained, and a set of useful stamps has been added. Other enhancements, such as full support for encryption and Bates numbering (useful for legal documents) are now present in PDFpen 2.

For those who like to use a stylus for marking up PDFs, PDFpen 2 now provides an adjustable palm-rest feature that shields part of the screen so you can rest your hand on it while scribbling without your device regarding it as a touch. (Speaking of styluses, PDFpen 2 provides support for several pressure-sensitive models.)

PDFpen’s annotation capabilities also see some enhancements. You can now view and navigate them within the sidebar, flatten them within PDFs on export for maximum compatibility with other PDF viewers, and set the annotation author name.

Not everyone, of course, needs a full-featured PDF-editing app on an iPad or iPhone. If all you want to do is read PDFs, iBooks is all you really need. But if you need to mark up PDFs while you’re on the go, Smile has delivered a polished professional PDF editor that works on any iOS 8-compatible device — even on an ancient iPad 2 (I know; I’ve tried it)!

All that, and upgrade pricing, too! Surely, that is something to smile about.


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Comments about PDFpen 2 for iOS Offers New Features along Paid Upgrade Path
(Comments are closed.)

Marty Plumbo  2014-12-06 00:18
This has already been done, FWIW. See Good Reader.
Rob Russell  2014-12-06 01:29
Man...the grammar analist here can't let it go. The screen shot has:

"approved by myself"

Gah! Doesn't anybody know how to use reflexive pronouns?

Michael E. Cohen  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2014-12-06 14:39
Note that the incorrect but increasingly common use of the reflexive that you point out only appears in the stamp if you haven't set an author's name in the PDFpen settings. If you set one, that name is used in place of "myself"; e.g., if I set my author name to MEC, the stamp should read "approved by MEC" when placed in a document.

However, I encourage you to send feedback to Smile; they can't fix stuff that they don't know about.
Stuart Hertzog  2014-12-08 16:35
The upgrade bundle price reduction worked for me but the purchase receipt that Apple sent still listed the price of the old version, even though it wasn't included in the final total. Very confusing and not acceptable practice, IMHO. come on Apple! Either list the previous version price as zero or don't include it on the invoice. Is that too difficult?
Michael E. Cohen  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2014-12-08 16:41
I understand your consternation, but complaining to us won't get Apple to fix things (much as we'd like to believe otherwise, Apple does not assiduously monitor our comment threads).

You should send feedback to Apple about this issue.
Stuart Hertzog  2014-12-08 16:51
Did that already, thought I'd just warn your readers. But are you sure that nobody at Apple reads Tidbits? I'm sure that somebody does. Tidbits is getting to be a venerable Mac institution.
Michael E. Cohen  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2014-12-08 16:57
I'm sure someone at Apple, and maybe more than one person, reads TidBITS; it's been around for more than two decades. However, Apple has thousands of employees and most of them have nothing to do with resolving customer complaints, so I always recommend that when people encounter problems with an Apple product or service, they not just tell TidBITS but tell Apple.

Glad to hear that you have done so!
Mark Nagata  2014-12-09 00:02
The two "app bundle"s (linked from the 3rd paragraph) seem to be unavailable (at least for now) from an iTunes account in Japan. International iTunes is not fully supported yet, it seems.

On the other hand, PDFpen 2 (linked from the 1st paragraph) do seem to be available in Japan.
Tommy Friedmann  2014-12-09 18:53
Wondering why my package costs $12, not $7.00. This is for iPad
Michael E. Cohen  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2014-12-10 02:08
Hard to say. One possibility is that when you bought the old PDFpen for iPad, it was during a sale at the App Store. If so, the sale price you paid was what was deducted from the bundle price, not the normal list price, since the App Store uses the actual price you paid when it deducts a previously purchased app's price from a bundle.