I've been trying to get a consensus on "best practices" for showing PDFs on mobile… but my Google skills have failed me so far.

I manage a bunch of mobile applications, where we sometimes show PDF files (e.g. show a bill, contract, etc.).

So far, we've built and maintained our own in-app PDF Views, but we keep getting Customer feedback for cases where the results are rather poor, depending on the PDFs we get.

At this point, the decision to keep maintaining our own PDF Views seems rather questionable to me, since we could just delegate the PDF to the OS, and have it render on the User's preferred PDF viewing app. This would spare us time and resources we could use on building more meaningful features.

On the other hand, most benchmarks I have (e.g. WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, Gmail) seem to indeed have their own embedded PDF Views.

  • Is it really worth it to spend the time on our own PDF Viewer?
  • Do you know any valid references for Apps that just delegate it to the System or to a WebView?
  • What would your recommendation be?

1 Answer 1


WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, Gmail have enormous budgets, large market share, a lot of momentum—do they provide appropriate "benchmarks" for your company?

Do your users have the same expectations of your app as they do of WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, Gmail apps? Is your company competing with WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, Gmail in an area where PDF viewing is critical? Do you have observable user testing results that indicate in-app PDF viewing is a high priority for your users?

Regardless of company size, prioritizing needs and allocating resources are essential business practices. The comment:

...delegate the PDF to the OS... This would spare us time and resources we could use on building more meaningful features.

...indicates continuing to develop PDF viewing will interfere with development of "more meaningful features".

If that's the case, and you're not competing with WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, Gmail, then at least put off PDF viewer development until higher priorities are satisfied.

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