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First, please let me apologize for my absence over the past few weeks. A combination of major involvement in a large construction defect litigation case and my wife and I moving into our first new house kept me INSANELY BUSY over the last month. Hoping to rectify that in the next few weeks, though.
More importantly, the apps. Well, June and July were actually relatively light for high-quality apps, so I wasn’t expecting too much from August. My mistake. Tons of great new apps have dropped, and sadly, I had to leave off plenty of good ones.
Here are my best new apps for lawyers released in August 2015:
Multi-platform apps begin at the () mark of the podcast.
Have you ever tried to use an app that suggests it has the ability to translate what you’re saying into another language? There are good, bad, and… terrible. On the good end has been apps like Word Lens (if you don’t mind the apps size).
Microsoft is helping to balance out the scales as well, with it’s new Translate app. For iOS, Android, Watch OS, and Android Wear, Translator can help you translate phrases in 50 different languages. It’ll even speak the phrases for you in case you’re worried that your terrible pronunciation is punishable by death in the country you’re visiting!
Even better for attorneys, in a country that is becoming more and more multi-lingual, it’ll be nice to be able to communicate with your clients without being a total jackass!
Ok, this one might not actually be one app, but considering how much I’m already cramming into this post, you’re going to have to deal with it.
First, Portal, Pushbullet’s app for sending multiple files, regardless of size, from your desktop to your mobile device (or mobile to mobile) has finally arrived on iOS. As I discussed when this app was released for Android, there are tons of ways lawyers can use this app, but probably the best in my opinion is sending documents in depositions. Dropbox requires you to have everything staged and ready to go. Not Portal!
Second, Pushbullet has recently been making strides into the messaging arena, adding text-message-like features to its app. Last month, they announced a game-changing update to their messaging and notification system: end-to-end encryption. And if you’re an attorney and you’re not sure if you should be using end-to-end encryption, you really need to check out my guide to security.
LINE is one of those companies that’s really managed to be on the front end of some of the biggest movements in mobile apps. They’ve already got tools that handle emojis, group video calls, selfies, and sharing stickers. So naturally, they needed a new app for their HERE location service.
Verify your account, and you are able to let up to 200 people know where you are or where you’re headed, without the need for a phone call or text message. You can share your location when you want to, and you can even set a timer on how long it appears.
Why am I talking about this with lawyers? Because location data is one of the most routinely overlooked aspects of eDiscovery. And now we have self-destructing location data. If you’ve got a great idea how to address that in discovery, let me know!
For more info, check out the podcast.
iOS apps begin at the () mark of the podcast.
Android Wear by Google, Inc., free.
So let’s say you have an iPhone, but you’re just not that enamored with the Apple Watch. Conventional wisdom (or as conventional as anything in the smartphone era can be…) says that since you’ve got an Apple OS device, you’re not going to be able to use an Android-based watch.
I do like it when conventional wisdom dies a spectacular death. Android Wear, the app that allows Android users to connect to their Android smartwatch, is now available on iOS. This could potentially be huge for lawyers who, despite generally being slower to adopt new technology, really seem to be taking to smartwatches quite well.
To hear more about that, check out my podcast next week with Nicole Black!
LinkedIn, as I’ve said too many times to count, is the preferred social media network for lawyers (and other professionals too, don’t get self conscious). Why? Because we like to connect with other professionals.
Well, LinkedIn found out something pretty interesting recently: 46% of LinkedIn’s users reported looking up their own co-workers on LinkedIn, primarily because it was the best place to find accurate, up-to-date information about the people they worked with.
While this might not be an important tool for law firms of 10 or less attorneys, I know this will be useful to law firms with just a few more. Why? Because it’s hard to keep track of everything. Do you know which paralegal has experience with personal injury cases? In your patent law firm? He or she might not talk to everyone about it, but it’ll probably be somewhere on the LinkedIn profile!
SMS Backup by Varalaxmi vegi, $4.99.
Unlike most of the apps I talk about in these posts, sometimes an app is important because it provides a low-tech solution to a problem. It’s even better when that problem didn’t really have a high-tech solution in the first place.
That’s the situation for SMS Backup. What does it do? It exports your text messages and iMessages to Microsoft Excel. You can do the same with your contact book and your phone history. Seem a little boring or pack-rat-ish? Imagine if the NFL had required Tom Brady to use this app before destroying his phone.
Whether you’re using it to keep track of your law firm’s clients and communications, or using it to preserve or obtain discovery from a litigant’s cell phone, you’ll find a use for this app.
Sideline by Pinger, Inc., free.
Remember the days before (and shortly after) the smartphone revolution? Did you have to carry two phones around – your work phone and your personal phone? It was pretty common. It also sucked. A lot.
However, there was one feature about it that was nice – you were able to take your work calls without giving out your personal phone number. Well, Sideline is for the entrepreneurs and professionals who miss the comfort and privacy that came with two different phones.
Sideline allows you to set up a 2nd phone line right in your phone. It’s a free U.S. phone number, allowing you to call and text from a dedicated business line. Sideline uses your phone carrier’s network, too, so you’re not relying on WiFi or data connections (like Google’s phone number service). Unfortunately, if you’ve got AT&T (like I do), your call quality will still suck.
Microsoft Outlook by Microsoft Corp., free. (Update)
Ok, I feel like I can’t go one month without talking about the launch or update of one of Microsoft’s flagship office programs. On the flip side, they’re actually making some pretty impressive (and important) improvements. To apps and programs I use every day…
… getting on with it.
This month, Microsoft announced a massive improvement in the way your Outlook app works with other office files. Remember that horrible Preview window for Excel spreadsheets and Word docs? It’s gone. Now, when you open an attachment, it opens in the appropriate MS Office app.
Do you frequently collaborate on Office files via email? Well, that whole feature about opening attachments right from Outlook, it works the other way too. Make edits to a document, spreadsheet or slideshow, and with one tap, the changes are saved, the file is closed, and you’re returned to Outlook with the now-updated file ready to be sent out.
Workflow by DeskConnect, Inc., $4.99. (Update)
The other top update of the month for iOS users is another major Workflow update. If you don’t use Workflow, I sincerely hope it’s because you don’t believe that automation can do anything to improve your efficiency. Yes, it’s a bit technical and wonkish, but it’s amazing.
This month, Workflow made several major additions to its platform. The biggest news is that Workflow now integrates with the widgets in your notification center. Crucially, you’re now able to run specific automations right from the notifications center, without bouncing through the Workflow app.
The second major update is the new Workflow sync feature, which allows you to backup your workflows to other devices – up til now, you needed to set up your Workflows separately on each device. Several new actions are also now available, including “Log Workout,” “Get Network Details,” “Calculate Statistics,” and other popular actions like “Edit Image,” “Make PDF,” “Tweet,” and “Take Photo” have all received significant upgrades.
Moo-Q by PSYT Ltd., free.
For more info, check out the podcast.
Android apps begin at the () mark of the podcast.
Cortana by Microsoft Corp., free. (BETA)
A continuing theme over the past several months has been the steady march of Microsoft apps onto non-Microsoft operating systems. And it’s been quite successful, too – as demonstrated by Google making Android Wear available on iOS. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, after all!
So why is Cortana, the Siri- and Google Now-esque voice assistant something that Android users will want? It’s not quite as full-featured as Google Now. However, don’t forget that Microsoft Windows 10 just launched. And Cortana is prominently featured. Oh, and the important part: you can sync your account data between platforms.
So when you teach Cortana about your interests and your preferences, they carry over to your phone. That includes things like calendar and reminder settings! Oh, and Google has apparently been generous enough to allow you to entirely replace Google Now with Cortana on your Android phone. I don’t see anyone similarly putting Siri in a corner anytime soon.
For regular readers of this blog, you know that one of my areas of interest is security, and especially mobile device security. That reminds me, if you don’t have a BYOD policy in your law firm, you need this. Now.
PhoneWatcher is an app that, ostensibly, allows you to keep your mobile devices secure. Whether you’re a parent trying to keep your daughter from sexting her boyfriend (she’s 30 mom, I think she’s old enough to decide on her own!), or monitoring your employees phones for security reason, this app has some tools you’ll find incredibly helpful.
However, like everything else when it comes to data security, use discretion. It doesn’t take long for your employees to feel like they’re living in a police state.
neutriNote by App Mind Labs, free. (BETA)
Has anyone gotten note-taking right on a mobile device yet? Even those apps that have a devoted following (like Evernote) or massive support (like Microsoft’s OneNote), find one person who claims to have found the perfect note-taking app, I can easily find 10 who disagree.
Into that field comes neutriNote, currently in beta. neutriNote gives you a smooth, attractive interface, and allows you to determine exactly how complex you want the next step to be. Want your notes to sync to Dropbox, nothing more? You’re covered. Want to create a detailed organizational system using tags and filters? Go for it!
neutriNote can be as simple as complex as you want, so if you haven’t found the perfect note-taking app yet, maybe you need to try the app that lets you tweak just about anything to make it perfect for your needs.
Link Bubble Browser by Link Bubble, free. (Update)
The Link Bubble app first appeared in 2014, to great fanfare. Unfortunately, it turns out that people aren’t wild about paying for a web browser. Even when the browser may change the way you surf the internet on your phone.
Hindsight being 20/20 and all, the makers of Link Bubble have decided to cave to popular pressure. Like Bubble is free.
So what, exactly, is so amazing about it? Well, you know how when you click on a link in your phone’s browser, you have to either navigate back to the page, or flip back through your tabs in order to return? Not with Link Bubble! Click a link, and a little bubble appears while your new page is loading. No more staring at a blank screen, wasting away your day (especially if, as I discussed above, you’re getting throttled on your “Unlimited” AT&T plan like me!)
Link Bubble even tracks how much time you save (or, to be more accurate, don’t waste) to help prove its worth.
So, the more I researched this app, the more irritated I got by all the articles starting their review of this amazing To-Do app by telling you that it was written by a teenager from Israel. Misery loves company.
Anyway, have you ever wondered why To-Do list apps aren’t just you writing a task and then dragging it to a timeline? Me neither, which is why I’m not the teenager making a ton of money on this app! Write your tasks, then drag them from a sliding panel right onto a timeline. Adjust sliders to indicate how long you want to spend on each item.
Set reminders with a small tab attached to your task, and visualize your entire day, week, month, whatever, with color-coded items. Sync it all up with your Google Calendar, and you’ve got a functional, user-friendly to-do list app!
Google On by Google, Inc., free.
PinTasking by Phinx Apps, free ($3.99 in-app purchases available).
Screen Recorder by Alien Dev, free.
For more info, check out the podcast.
Windows Phone apps begin at the () mark of the podcast.
Google Translate by Google, Inc., free. (BETA)
UPDATE AND WARNING!
Based on recommendations from Gizmodo, one of my favorite tech review sites, I included this app on my list this month. However, not having a Windows Phone, I did not test it. Prior to publishing, I’ve done some research and cannot suggest this app to anyone.
Aside from what appears to be improperly using the “Google” name, this app has a very peculiar list of reviews (one to three words total in all five reviews), and has some disturbing items in its privacy list.
DO NOT DOWNLOAD unless you are able to independently verify that this isn’t a scam.
ReddHub by Reddit Anonymous, free.
Reddit may have fallen a bit from its perch as the “Front Page of the Internet,” not least due to the fact that apparently racists and misogynists really like the platform for sharing their thoughtful insights on the world. *cough* douchebags *cough*
That said, Reddit is still an amazing source for information on damn near any topic – including the practice of law. Their website isn’t the easiest to navigate from your smartphone, though. Good thing there are plenty of full-featured apps like ReddHub.
Unlike Reddit’s actual site, ReddHub was designed to bring all the functions and features of Reddit to a responsive, mobile environment. And it does so in an intuitive, aesthetically pleasing way.
Now, about getting rid of those racists…
For more info, check out the podcast.