Well, after what I can only describe as two amazing months for apps in August and September, it appears the world of app developers slowed down somewhat in October. Fine by me, since most of mine was occupied by my honeymoon in Italy (which was freaking awesome).
However, that’s not to suggest that the month was a complete waste!
Here are my best new apps for lawyers released in October 2015:
Leading off the list of multi-platform apps this month (all of which are major updates of existing apps) is Office Lens, your mobile scanner by Microsoft. What’s most interesting about the updates this month is that they’re not universal.
For iOS users, Office Lens now connects directly to your Microsoft 365 account, giving you the ability to directly scan in documents to your OneNote or OneDrive account. While this was probably a lot more interesting before Microsoft decided to completely back-out on their promise to provide unlimited storage in OneDrive, it’s still going to be a very effective way of making sure that your business-related documents get saved correctly.
For Android users, Office Lens now boasts the capability (already available on iOS) to scan a business card, digitize the data, and add the information directly to your contacts list. Although not as effective as Evernote (according to this author), users of MS Office products likely want to keep their information in one ecosystem, which Android users are now able to do.
Overall, Office Lens still falls short of Evernote in several ways. However, if you’re like the author of this recent post on Evernote’s cumbersome expansion, maybe that’s not such a bad thing!
If you’re a practicing attorney or legal professional and you don’t have a blog, then you should read this. If you do, there’s a good chance you’ve at least heard of Medium. While I don’t use the platform, many bloggers and writers do. Last month, they announced a massive upgrade to their mobile platform.
All mobile users will now be able to link edits made on their mobile devices immediately across platforms. It’s ok, I didn’t know what that meant at first, either. Basically, all of your edits will show up in real time on your writing, regardless whether it’s from your desktop or your mobile. In addition, you’re now able to track performance of your writing, including how frequently certain passages are highlighted, directly from your mobile device.
There were some platform-specific improvements as well. iOS users will now find that “deep linking” (your guess is as good as mine) from within the app is now possible, and the app is now able to recognize 3D touch inputs for users with the newest phones. For Android, the app is now fully compatible with Marshmallow and Jelly Bean.
This update isn’t so much groundbreaking as “pathfinding” – beginning the exploration and paving the way for important updates in the future. Some of you may know that Microsoft recently purchased the Sunrise calendar app. This month, they decided to combine Sunrise with Outlook. While the results may just appear to be cosmetic, it’s a big sign for things to come.
iOS users will notice new, more colorful icons within the app, matching more consistently with what you see in Office 365. Additionally, the app now shows today’s date in the widget, and has a smoother look and feel to the calendar. Android users will see a visual setup that matches more with their Android system overall.
Look to see the features of the Sunrise app fully implemented in Outlook in the coming months!
None this month!
As I’ve said before, LinkedIn remains the top social network for lawyers. As such, pretty much anything they do is newsworthy for this blog. However, it seems that sometimes LinkedIn’s new creations aren’t really all that important. This is NOT one of those times.
Recently, LinkedIn decided to revamp their Groups. In an attempt to make them less spammy, groups are now all private. In order to make the groups you’re in more effective, though, LinkedIn wants to improve your ability to communicate. Hence, the new app.
Using the app, you can find new groups, post in the group pages, and connect with new members. However, the Groups upgrade also extends to the app. Want to add images to improve the quality of your conversations? Done. Want to mention other members to target the conversation? Done.
Overall, there’s a lot that LinkedIn Groups can offer to lawyers looking to find and converse with a narrowly-tailored network. This app will definitely help furthering those goals.
Basecamp is one of the most popular project management systems on the market. Given the increased recognition that the legal profession has given to the value of project management within law firms, the release of the new Basecamp 3 platform couldn’t come at a better time!
Along with the new platform comes the new app. Using the Basecamp 3 app, you’re able to keep track of client communication, accept feedback, and get quick approval from clients when needed. Send quick messages to anyone working on a project, or communicate with the entire group through the “campfire” feature. Share documents, collaborate on motions/briefs/whatever, and even set the system up so that nobody can contact you at night!
Oh, and it also has all those general project management tools you’ll need too.
PAUSE by ustwo studio, LTD., $1.99
Do you have a nuclear-meltdown level of stress on a regular basis? Of course you do, you’re a lawyer! However, thanks in no small part to some of the excellent work by Jeena Cho and others, the concept of mindfulness is actually being used by a lot of lawyers to reduce their stress.
And now, thanks to PAUSE, there’s an app for that! Using music and a meditative process, PAUSE uses interaction to take your mind off of the things that you’re worried about to focus rather on the here-and-now. I was a skeptic, but it’s remarkable how a little meditation can improve your energy and focus, even if it’s only for a short time (I haven’t had the chance to test long-term capabilities yet).
One absolutely baffling conclusion that I’ve reached in my time practicing law is that attorneys tend to be pretty bad at understanding data analysis. Understanding a collection of information, and how it relates to other information, can be critical in law. To me, it’s one of the reasons that attorneys have been reluctant to really adopt eDiscovery – they don’t truly understand how valuable it is.
Well, here’s an app that just might help attorneys understand the value of data. Vizable is an app that will take any data you input and generate aesthetically pleasing visualizations of that data. Why is this useful? Because we understand a LOT more about something when we see it visually presented.
Check it out, and I think you’ll be impressed. Especially the animations!
Assembly by Pixite, LLC, free.
Overcast by Overcast Radio, LLC, free. (Update)
We are connected to others as never before. Between contact lists in our phones and information on social media sites, there are more ways than ever to contact someone. Assuming the information you’re using is up-to-date, of course. That’s the trouble with all these options. Also, it kinda sucks having 30 different lists of contacts.
FullContact helps solve all that, across numerous platforms, and finally comes to Android. Combine your contact list with LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook (for users who have FullContact) and enterprise email systems. Receive a notification when one of your contacts’ information changes, and update your info across the board.
Additionally, you can turn your FullContact list into your phone’s default contact book. Email and call directly from the app, while even checking that contact’s most recent social media posts to make sure they’re not busy (or at a concert or something… I certainly don’t post about my meetings on Facebook!).
Cybrary by Cybrary IT, LLC, free.
I talk about the importance of cyber security for law firms quite a bit. Because it’s freaking important. And it’s widely ignored. So the inclusion of this app really shouldn’t shock too many of you.
While this won’t increase your clients, or help you win a particular case (except in the rarest of circumstances), this app will most certainly help your law practice. By teaching you about cyber security. Cybrary has a whole catalog of courses on cyber security and hacking, ranging from beginner to expert level, that will keep you informed about the potential cyber security threats we face.
Released in August on iOS, LinkedIn Lookup has come to Android! 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!
Parchi by Microsoft Corp., free.
Yep, this monthly list really has turned into a regular announcement of Microsoft’s newest apps. Face it, what they’re doing works. Parchi, one of the newest apps to be released out of the Microsoft Garage Project, is yet another niche app that seeks to do one thing and do it well.
Parchi is a note-taking app for people who frequently need to jot down a short and quick note or list. If you’re an attorney and you don’t consider yourself one of those people, re-evaluate your life. We’ll wait…
The emphasis here is on speed. You can jot down quick notes in the app, or even directly from the lock screen, for later use. Organize your apps with tags (using the # that you’ve become familiar with if you’re a social media user) for better searching. For a free app, there are plenty of great features to take advantage of.
Most attorneys feel that monitoring their IT infrastructure is something to pay someone else to do, and they’re probably not wrong. However, they’re not right either. Microsoft OMS app allows you to monitor your network, including key security data, to make sure you’re clients’ confidential information is secure.
If you’re a solo or small firm, having access to this information could save you a ton of money on IT professionals, while making sure you’re data is always protected.
Alto Email by AOL, Inc., free.
There really are a ton of news reading apps out there, so I try to only include apps that have great tools, an innovative approach, or when there really aren’t any other good apps to write about. In this case, all three are true (the third is a recurring theme for Windows Phone, sadly)!
LeadStory is a news app that utilizes a no-frills design to provide you with up-to-date information in an easy-to-read layout. Using the Google News aggregator, you’ll get the most important stories from the news organizations you select, as well as top stories in your categories of interest. LeadStory also uses an AI interface to learn what type of stories you’re most interested in to provide additional recommendations.
Facebook by Facebook, Inc., free. (Update)