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So, it’s been about a month since I posted anything here, and I’m sorry for anyone who missed me! What a crazy month! Aside from being busy at the office and giving a few presentations, the dishwasher in our house (a mere 3 years old – the house AND the dishwasher) decided that it would go ahead and leak.
So… long story short – after about 6 weeks of living elsewhere, dealing with contractors, dealing with repairing the damage caused by the contractors, buying a new dishwasher, and dealing with insurance… I’m freaking exhausted! However, that’s not going to prevent me from telling you about some new apps.
Here are the best new apps for lawyers released or updated in June 2016:
Multi-platform apps begin at the (1:44) mark of the podcast.
As you all know by now, I’m a huge supporter of anything that will actually improve your internet security. It’s an even bigger plus if it also improves convenience. Password managers are on that list. This past month, the password manager Dashlane released some impressive updates to its password management system.
The biggest improvements are in the area of navigation. One thing most password managers simply don’t do all that well is make it easy to navigate around their system. The new Quick Search function, along with a tabbed menu bar, will make it much easier to find your login information.
Additionally, the ability to share your login information with a new “Contacts” view, and a “Recents” tab to access your most frequently used logins, all improve the user experience. Overall, Dashlane’s updates improve upon an already excellent security product.
So, I’m not gonna lie, the news from Evernote was kind of mixed last month. Sadly, there are across-the-board price increases for subscribed users (like me), and the free version is now limited to two devices – which, as Sam Glover so profoundly pointed out, is kind of a drag for a system that advertises being able to access your information from anywhere.
However, some impressive updates were announced as well. First and foremost – and going back to what I said above, passcode lock is now available to ALL USERS! If you’re using Evernote for any element of your law practice (or really even just on the same computer), you should have it password protected.
Another major update, particularly for the networking crew among us, is the new compatibility with Salesforce. If you capture business cards with Evernote (which you should, here’s why), you can now send them directly to Salesforce. Along with the improved offline notebook access, quite a nice little suite of updates to one of the most popular note-taking apps on the market.
I love having access to the news on my phone. It’s something I can take with me pretty much… anywhere. However, there’s a large amount of time that I’m not really able to read the news on my phone. Colloquially, it’s known as “driving.” It’s also one of the biggest reasons podcasts are so popular.
Even if it’s not all about distracted driving, many of us have times when reading makes us nauseous, causes headaches, or is just a big problem in general. That’s where Meep comes in.
Meep lets you actually listen to the news coming in from major online publications like the New York Times, Bleacher Report (seriously, this qualifies as a major news publication?), and more. You can select a topic to listen to, and you’ll hear narrations of the stories from those topics. Skip what you don’t want to hear (anything talking about Dook basketball), and even follow your friends to hear what they’re listening to.
It’s news on the go, give it a shot – or remain hopelessly uninformed!
For more info, check out the podcast.
iOS apps begin at the (11:06) mark of the podcast.
One of my all-time favorite apps, Workflow is the internal automation system for your iPhone. Well, last month, it got a HUGE new update.
I know that I talked about a Workflow update last month, and while the updated integrations with Trello and Apple Music were cool, this month’s announcement brings your automation capabilities to a whole new level. Workflow now integrates with IFTTT. That’s right, you can now connect your in-device automations with your online automations!
Scan an image, have it upload to Dropbox, while being added to an Evernote notebook, and recording an entry in a spreadsheet with the name of the document, the date and time it was recorded, the case it applies to, and where you were when it was taken. Really, the possibilities are freaking endless.
BusyCal by BusyCal, LLC, $4.99.
The popular Mac OS calendar app BusyCal is now available on iOS (and actually received a simultaneous update to its Mac version, BusyCal 3). BusyCal is a flexible calendar app designed to help manage the calendars and task management for absurdly busy people. Like you. Face it.
With customizable calendar views, integrated task management, automated meeting scheduling, travel time calculation, maps, natural language, and… holy hell, this calendar does a freaking LOT of things! Compatible with iCloud, Google Calendar, Exchange, Office 365, and whatever other damn calendar you may be using, this is truly the calendar system for power schedulers!
Dropbox by Dropbox, Inc., free (Update).
Many have been crying about the decline of popular cloud-based document storage service Dropbox. For a while, actually. Ok, pretty much since it was launched. There’s always been a reason why Dropbox is about to die. Then it shifts, whether subtly or majorly, and proves that rumors of its impending death are quite an exaggeration.
This month is no different. The shift, this time, was a major one, and it’s causing a lot of other app developers to lose sleep. Dropbox for iOS now includes some major new productivity tools to help you with your daily grind. And they’re not just pretty add-ons, either.
Most significant is the new document scanner. Using your camera, capture documents, whiteboards, notes, receipts, sketches, or whatever, and convert it into a document that you store in Dropbox. It’ll automatically detect the edges of the document, offer editing tools for straightening, adding multiple pages, and Dropbox for Business users will be able to run OCR to create searchable text.
Other improvements include better integration with Microsoft Office, better camera uploads, and options for adding comments to documents.
That sound you heard? That was Evernote and every single scanner app audibly beginning to sweat. Yes. Audibly.
There are a lot of reasons I hear from people about why they’re not on Twitter. For most people, it’s based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the system. Since I’m too busy to correct that misunderstanding one person at a time, I focus on lawyers. Lawyers should REALLY be using Twitter.
However, there are legitimate reasons why some have avoided the amazing real-time social platform. The biggest among them is lack of understanding about how to use Twitter’s system effectively. The new Twitter Dashboard app goes a long way to helping a user out with exactly that.
Your dashboard offers you a single destination for managing your Twitter account. Schedule Tweets, find the important Tweets sent by others, get an updated list of your accounts mentions and responses, and even track your analytics to get a better idea of what’s working and what isn’t.
If you’ve not tried Twitter out yet, you need to. If you need a little help (like, not full-blown training wheels, but a little assistance), check out Twitter Dashboard. You’ll be glad you did.
Like collaboration on your team? Do you use Microsoft Office. Yeah, stop laughing, I know you do. Do you use one from the last 15 years? Probably not. Well, if you ever decide to invest in Office 365, you should really know about SharePoint, Microsoft’s collaboration system that, this past month, came to iOS.
SharePoint is Microsoft’s attempt at enterprise collaboration. With tabs for Sites (a.k.a. Projects), Links and People, you can manage and participate in numerous collaborative projects from anywhere. View your co-workers’ profiles, access all content stored in each individual project, and share group calendars to keep everyone updated on each individual project’s level of success.
Most law firms haven’t yet jumped on the project management bandwagon. Which is fine. I guess. If you’re one of those firms, and you’re looking for a way to improve your law firm’s productivity, check out SharePoint.
You’re already using Microsoft Office anyway, right?
For more info, check out the podcast.
Android apps begin at the (23:24) mark of the podcast.
Evie by Evie, Inc., free.
This may be the most interesting app on this list, in my opinion. Evie is a home screen app built around a search bar. Type in a query, and as you’re typing, Evie will start bringing up suggestions in response. The cool part? It doesn’t assume you’re looking for just one type of thing.
If you’re typing the name of a restaurant or a type of food, it’ll bring up results from maps and Yelp. If you’re typing in the name of a movie, it’ll bring up the option to buy tickets, but it’ll also bring up options based on the apps within your device (such as IMDB or Fandango).
Once your query is done, you get one-tap access to the correct app or destination to complete your search. Order food through the Uber Eats app; schedule a ride through Lyft (come on, need some corporate diversity here). Instead of focusing on one specific app, Evie is designed to find the best response to your query.
A whole bunch of new features came to the suite of Microsoft Office apps on Android last month:
All apps received the ability to pin a file to your home screen, and allow you to export documents to text, which will be particularly helpful for anyone who wants to use the contents of an Office file in other apps on your device. The ability to pin a file to your home screen within each app has been a long time coming, as it’s been standard on Google Docs for quite a while now.
Another major update comes to Outlook… two, in fact. The first, you can now edit other Office files opened within Outlook much more quickly and efficiently, which is particularly helpful on Office 365, given the collaborative nature of the system. The second, Outlook now comes to Android Wear, with full output of emails and replies, right on your Android smartwatch.
Maps by Google, Inc., free (Update).
It’s Android, so you’re going to have to accept a lot of Google-related news this month. Starting with a significant update to Maps. Since you use it to get everywhere, it’s nice to have new things to help, right?
New to your Maps app are a whole host of new tools. First up, you will now get a list of “new and popular places” when you’re away from home. Opt-in to the new service, and receive a list of suggestions of places to go in areas you’re new to. Next, you can finally launch the “OK Google” voice commands directly within the app.
The other major update (which is really two things), is the addition of multi-stop trips and find gas stations, restaurants, etc. along your route in navigation mode. While those things were available in drive mode, they’re MUCH more useful in the planning of your trip than they are as random pop-ups WHILE YOU’RE DRIVING.
So sometimes you need an app that, well, isn’t an app. That’s kind of what Calendar Widget: Agenda is all about. Android’s widget system remains far superior to that available on Apple’s iOS, and Calendar Widget takes full advantage.
With a series of widgets you can select from, you’re able to keep a watch on your calendar, tasks, upcoming birthdays, even moon phases, right from your home screen. Incredibly useful for the attorney who is a little too preoccupied with whatever’s on his or her smartphone… or is too busy trying to catch Pokemon characters, this app is definitely worth a try for most attorneys.
Keep by Google, Inc., free (Update).
Well, more bad news for Evernote, I suppose. Keep, Google’s note-taking app released a major update this month, focusing on how it can help you organize your notes. If you’re like me, that also means “organizing your life.”
Keep will suggest auto-labels for each of your notes while you’re creating them, allowing you to easily organize them on-the-fly. Selecting one of the new tabs will allow you to more easily search through your notes in that category, and find your images faster, too.
The coolest – and most “Google”-esque – part of the update? Those new categories? They’re “Smart” categories. That’s right, Keep will actually organize your notes for you. Because, let’s be honest, you weren’t going to do it yourself.
Flower VPN by EvenByte, Ltd., free.
Blendle by Blendle, Inc., free.
For more info, check out the podcast.
About the Author
Brian Focht is a civil litigation attorney and technology enthusiast. In addition to being the author of The Cyber Advocate, he is also the producer and host of the Legal Technology Review podcast, and co-founder of B&R Concepts, a small business technology consulting company.