EndNote for the iPad: giving a second chance

So after a first negative reaction, I decided to give the EndNote for the iPad a second chance. Basically my second impression is more positive than the first one, but I still think there are things to be improved in the overall EndNote ecosystem, if we can call it that way (desktop versions, sync, and iPad).

Let’s start with the syncing issues I reported. After my first post, I found that they had just fixed it, as well as the usability issues for the Mac version. So make sure you update both PC and Mac versions to the latest patch (6.0.1 and 6.0.2 respectively). That’s the first step.

Then if you use groups, you need to create a new library. Brand new. Or at least recreate the groups. Otherwise, if you use your library created on a previous version and sync for the first time, the program will simply delete your groups. Really! It took me a couple of trials and restoring from backup iterations before I figured that out. So I started a brand new library and synced from there.

I also deleted all my previous groups on EndNoteWeb one by one to avoid any funny behavior. So after all that (patches and brand new library), I could finally get sync working well. And consequently I finally could do a proper test of the iPad app. Let’s revisit some of the items from my previous review:

  • The annotating capability is really poor and it is hard to understand why they would create something like that. Fortunately Thomson Reuters claims that they should be migrating to native pdf annotations soon.
  • There is a workaround for using native pdf annotations. A bit cumbersome, but at least it works. You can open an EndNote attachment in another iPad app (such as GoodReader or iAnnotate), then read and annotate it. Then you have to open it back on the EndNote for iPad and replace the old attachment with the new one. The annotations will not be visible on the iPad app, but if you sync back you will see your annotations on the desktop version. Again, it is cumbersome, but it works.
  • Syncing actually works quite well. You can create references on the iPad manually or through downloaded files such as .ris or .enw. You can also attach PDFs to the references, and the attachments will be synced back to the web (and the desktop versions).
  • By default no attachments are downloaded to the iPad app: only the references. But you can choose some references as “favorites” and those will have the attachments synced as well. Alternatively, if you have an Internet connection, you can always download the attachment of a reference by tapping on it.
  • Two of my favorite features from X6 are missing: read/unread flag and the rating system.
  • Smart Groups also can’t be synced, nor the Group Sets. Together with the previous item, I hope both get implemented anytime soon.
  • It would be nice to have the “find full text” functionality built-in as well.
  • There is still no word on pricing for their web sync functionality (limited to 5GB) after the initial two years.
So I am glad I gave it another try. Having one consistent library across devices is a huge time saver and very convenient, and I hope they keep developing the app.
Are you using EndNote and/or EndNote for the iPad? Or other solutions? Share your views in the comments.

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