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unRealBook vs. GigBook

I received some iTunes gift cards from students this year, same as in previous years, and I decided to use some of them on two iPad apps that a lot of people have been buzz about, unRealBook ($4.99) and Gigbook ($4.99).

Let me start off by saying that both programs absolutely suck on how you get stuff into them. Part of that is Apple’s fault. It would be nice if Apple would allow access to the area where iBooks are being stored, but that doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment, though they now allow Apps to talk to iTunes and play music from your library which unRealBook does. It would be idea for both of these developers to come up with something to allow easy importing/syncing of PDFs. I suppose one could use DropBox.

A slicker alternative, PadSync ($9.99) works great. Strangely enough on yet another iPad Music reading App recommended it. Yet, this too doesn’t really offer anything I really want. I would LIKE to have say a folder called SaxBooks and have ONE of these programs, when I sync to iTunes or run some syncing program, update any changes or additions. Is that so much to ask? Hence, this is why I really like using iBooks. It syncs to iTunes, and I can keep all my PDFs in iTunes, tag them, etc.

Moving on past the pain in the butt that is putting files on you iPad into one of these programs, what can you expect? Which one works better? First, lets look at Gigbook. This is a slick program. You can organize scores into Binders, make set lists, organize by composers, genre, key, tempo, time. You can make it part of a Collection so you can bookmark 400 page PDF fake books for songs. It feels like a proper iPad App, like my favorite iPad App Reeder.

UnRealBook has a lot of neat features. You can draw on your music, different pens, colors, etc. Save it. Undo it. Email the changes. Very cool. You can link a PDF to a song in your iTunes library and play it. VERY COOL. You can export Pages, send files via Bluetooth, Get files from DropBox or a URL, email PDFs, pages. There are lots of things you can do. However, the navigation around the program isn’t very “iPad-like”. Plus, once you’ve gotten used to the Binders and Collections that GigBook has…..

It’s a tough call to pick a winner. Feature wise, unRealBook is the best. The ability to mark up your PDFs and play things out of your iTunes library and attach those things to PDFs. Total thumbs up. Gigbook needs to step up and have these things. Interface wise, Gigbook is clearly the best. And the Collections and Binders are pretty invaluable…….

Winner…..Gigbook. Of the two, it is the one that is really the best thought out and implemented. If unRealBook redid its interface, and implemented something similar to Binders and Collections, then it would be the winner.

Couple of notes:
Both programs work with the Airturn BT-105 (seriously, who the hell names these things).
Both programs DO NOT and SHOULD read PDF fields like Title, Author, Subject and Keywords that are in PDFs. I take the time to tag my PDFs, it would be nice for these programs to read them.
Both programs should be able to read and use bookmarks in PDFs. Seriously, I bookmark important PDFs or RealBooks I have in PDF format.
Both programs should allow cropping of PDFs. After I did this experiment, it can really help make things more readable.
Both programs should have contrast controls, like GoodReader.
Either Apple or these guys really should find a way to access PDFs in iBooks or come up with some easy way to manage PDFs between the Mac and iPad.
AND it would be nice to have TEXT searching in PDFs. Programs like GoodReader allow this, and for 400 Page RealBooks, it would make finding a song easier.

So, Gigbook. Now if someone wants to send me forScore 2 ($4.99) to play with………I might have to revisit all this (HINT HINT). Or if GoodReader had a few of the features of Gigbook and unRealBook (Binders, ability to draw on PDFs).