Amid the flurry of Android news as part of Google's annual I/O Conference last week, a news item that slipped through the cracks was that Adobe released a native PDF reading app for Android phones.
The software, which went up in the Android Marketplace Friday, lets users quickly open up PDFs they download from a browser, or that they've received in e-mail attachments. It packs multitouch gestures for zooming, landscape orientation, and a tool that will resize the text on wide documents to fit your phone's narrow screen.
After a quick spin with the software on a Nexus One, I found it to work quite well, even on large files. A 12MB, picture-rich PDF file I had downloaded in Android's stock browser opened up in just four seconds and zipped around like butter on a hot pan. Part of the reason for that is that the software only renders around four pages of a long document at a time, and will load in the rest when you stop. It's kind of a bummer when you imagine trying to use this to pinpoint a specific part of a document by sight, but for most other reading tasks it's no biggie.
The real downer is the lag that occurs when zooming, as it takes the software a second or two to re-render the text and images. This may not seem like a big deal, but it can be annoying when trying to peruse a large document that requires a lot of zooming around; media-rich PDFs seemed to aggravate this.
The app weighs in at 4.3MB, which is a bit heavy for a PDF reader. By comparison, the free version of QuickOffice's PDF reader that comes pre-installed on the Nexus One is just 36KB. Adobe's app also requires Android 2.1 or higher, which means users without a Droid, Nexus One, Eris, or the other handful of 2.1 devices will be left in the dust. This may come as bad news to those of you with what Google's Android chief Andy Rubin is calling "legacy" handsets.