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Best New Apps for Lawyers – August & September 2014

Fall is in the air!  Unfortunately, that means irritating and unstoppable campaign ads are on TV.  Even YouTube is sporting some annoying Americans for Prosperity ads, which just don’t seem appropriate right before a Beyonce music video.  Oh well.  At least there’s football (kind of).  And, of course, new apps.

These are my Best New Apps for Lawyers – August & September 2014:

iOS:

best new apps 1PromptSmart by PromptSmart, $9.99.

One of the biggest complaints with all previous attempts to use the iPad as a teleprompter was that the apps failed to allow for the fact that speeches rarely go at one speed.  While you’re presenting, you need to take a breath to let a major point sink in, turn to your slides to identify an important point, or simply pause to inform your audience that you KNOW they’re either sleeping or playing video games (this is particularly important in law school classrooms).  PromptSmart has not only solved that issue, they’ve got a patent pending on their solution!

Welcome to voice-responsive teleprompting.  PromptSmart will actually follow your presentation, word-for-word, and scroll to the next part of your speech accordingly.  Don’t like fully scripted speeches?  Great, because PromptSmart comes with a notecard mode perfect for tracking key points in your presentation.  Seem too good to be true? Check out a video demonstration.

best new apps 2Lockdown Two Factor Authentication by Cory Bohon, $3.99.

Maybe it’s because I wish I was still at the 2014 Clio Cloud Conference, where I gave a presentation on Law Firms living in a BYOD World (a primer on the necessity of a BYOD Policy in law firms), but this set of posts is going to have a bit of a security-centeric feel.  First on that list: Lockdown.

Two factor authentication increases security exponentially.  The traditional idea of two-factor authentication utilizes two of three potential items to allow you access: 1) something you know (i.e. a password), 2) something you have (a keycard), and 3) something you are (biometrics like fingerprints or a retinal scan).  Able to work with any device that is compatible with Google Authentication (like Dropbox, for example), Lockdown allows you to significantly increase the security of your information.  Additional features like being able to speak your authentication code into iOS voice recognition is just one of many features that sets Lockdown apart from other two-factor authentication apps.

best new apps 3Talko – Talk. Share. Do. by Talkdo, Inc.free.

I’m a sucker for reimagining things that we thought couldn’t be done differently.  You understand text messages, yes? You understand to-do lists as well, right? Well, imagine them combined.  With pictures.  Oh, and those text messages, replace them with voice, voice-to-text, or voice superimposed over image messages.

Talko allows you to utilize one of the best voice recognition systems out there to send messages to your friends, your co-workers, your family, or yourself.  Send the messages immediately, or send them later.  More importantly, you can organize everything with hashtags, bookmarks and flags.  Share your ideas with others whenever you want, allowing collaboration on ideas with any number of people.

best new apps 4Google Slides by Google, Inc.free.

Ok, I get it.  Google Slides being released for iPad certainly isn’t going to set the world on fire.  However, given the dominance that Google has in so many areas of software, anything they release for iOS is newsworthy.  Given that PowerPoint’s long delayed entrance into mobile computing left the field wide open for such apps as Keynote, it will be interesting to see if Google Slides will add needed competition, or just be another incomplete addition.

Boasting the same features as its desktop version, Google Slides on iOS allows users to create, edit, and present slideshows right from their device.  Automatic saving to the cloud means that, just as with PowerPoint’s app, you’ll never need to worry about losing the work you’ve just done.  If Keynote and PowerPoint haven’t really satisfied your need for presentation apps, check out Google Slides.

Android:

best new apps 5Clio for Android by Themis Solutions, Inc.free (requires subscription).

In case you didn’t already know, I’m a huge fan of the Clio Law Practice Management platform.  I use it in my practice, and I’ve used the Clio iPhone app regularly since it was introduced.  However, until now, the only way to access your Clio account on Android was to use your web browser, which was a serviceable, although not ideal, way to connect.  However, last week at the 2014 Clio Cloud Conference (yes, I AM going to continually talk about that event; it was awesome), Themis Solutions announced that Clio had come to Android.

Some apps are “mobile friendly,” and some web browser versions of apps like to claim the same thing.  What sets Clio’s mobile app apart is that it’s not a miniature version of their system.  Rather, it’s your entire practice management system, totally reimagined for your mobile device.  You have access to the same tools and information, but in a way that harnesses the strengths of your smartphone.

best new apps 6Moto Display, Moto Actions, and Moto Voice by Motorola Mobility, LLCfree.

This entry is a three-part set of apps from Motorola to improve the functionality of your Android device.  Although currently only available on the Moto X, I’m hopeful that these apps become more widely available, because they add some really neat features to your phone.

Moto Display allows you to view important information without accessing your phone.  View the time without having to even touch the screen.  New notifications?  The most recent three will be displayed by type, and are just a swipe away.  Simply interacting with your screen displays the battery life.  It tells you what you need to know without even turning on the screen.

Moto Actions utilizes your phone’s proximity system to allow your phone to activate without needing to touch your phone.  Wave your hand to activate the screen or disable an alarm.  Need to use the camera? Just a quick twist of your wrist and it’s active, ready to take pictures.

Moto Voice extends touchless control to even more of your device.  Want to play a certain song? How about get directions to your next appointment? How about setting an alarm so that you’re awake for that big client meeting tomorrow morning?  All you have to do is tell your phone, and it’s done.  No swiping through apps, no jumping from one platform to the other.  Heck, you don’t even need to activate your phone!  For those with second generation Moto X, you’re even able to customize your phone’s responses to your voice.

best new apps 7Hangouts Dialer by Google, Inc.free.

I have already written about the magnificent potential of apps like Google Hangouts, and I’m not alone.  In fact, many attorneys are already utilizing the power of Google Hangouts for things like teleconferences and long-distance depositions.  One of the big drawbacks was that it acted like any other chat-based app: both sides had to have the app.

No longer.  Now, you’re able to dial any phone number in the world from your Google Hangouts app.  Even better, if you have Google Voice, the Hangouts app has just become your mobile VOIP base.  You’re not getting everything for free though – only calls to other Google Hangouts numbers are guaranteed to be free.

best new apps 8Dynamic Pin by maragatharathinam softwares, free.

Continuing with my mobile security kick for this entry, I bring you Dynamic Pin, a unique and clever way of making your basic passcode lock a little more secure.  A numbered passcode or a pattern swipe can be fairly easily determined by someone who finds your phone from the smudges on the screen.  Dynamic Pin goes another route – mathematical equations.

To set your security, you set an equation for the app, such as a+b, g*e, or so forth.  From that point on, the pin you need to enter is the solution to the equation you selected.  Therefore, it’s different each time.  Your screen will display 16 variable-value combinations, so only the person who knows the equation will have access.  Additionally, you can select this app to secure your whole phone, or just certain apps, making it excellent for BYOD programs. The app is set, by default, to prevent brute force attacks.

Updated:

best new apps 9Android Device Manager by Google, Inc., free.

After my recent presentation at the 2014 Clio Cloud Conference regarding the need for law firms to establish and maintain an effective BYOD policy, the recent update made by Google to the Android Device Manager simply had to be included in this list.  With this recent update, you’re still able to track your device, disable or wipe its memory if needed. The great addition: the ability to set your phone to have a “call” button displayed, forcing the person in possession of your phone to call whatever number you input.

Hopefully, they’re the type that’s actually going to return your phone.  If not, all the other options to wipe your phone or trigger an alarm are right at your fingertips.

Windows Phone:

best new apps 10CNN by CNN Interactive Group, Inc., free.

Finally to Windows Phone, the official app of CNN.  Bringing you headline news, up-to-the-minute reports, and a customizable news feed, you’re in control of the way your information comes to you, but you’re always in the know.  Access video of top stories and live feeds of current CNN programming, at your fingertips.