Essential iPhone and iPad apps from legal tech gurus
With more than 300,000 apps available through the Apple App Store, how can a busy lawyer find the best ones? A panel of legal technology experts separated the wheat from the chaff in April to identify the top apps that can help lawyers be more accessible and productive.
Speaking to a full house at ABA TECHSHOW 2011 in Chicago, the experts—Josh Barrett of Black Helterline LLP, Jeff Richardson of Adams and Reese LLP, and Reid Trautz of the American Immigration Lawyers Association Practice and Professionalism Center—shared the top 60 apps on their list.
Here are some favorites:
Atomic Browser – This web browser is far superior to the mediocre Safari app, said Barrett. Atomic boasts excellent speed, multi-tab navigation and lots of options that are easy to find and customize. Barrett said it’s his default browser on his iPhone, and it’s only 99 cents.
Calvetica Calendar – The built-in calendar app on the iPad is not great—this one is better, said Richardson, explaining that users can create events with Calvetica using far fewer taps than the native app. Moreover, it can quickly jump to specific dates, and it uses the built-in Calendar database so users can go back and forth between Calvetica and the native app. The cost is $3.
Noted – Trautz said that buying Noted was the best $1.99 he spent this year. The app is a quick notepad that automatically sends a user’s typed note to her designated e-mail account. Noted is “faster than many ‘memory’ apps, and more reliable because I constantly check my e-mail box, but I don’t always see the reminders in my memory app.”
GoodReader – Richardson called GoodReader one of the best apps available, and essential for lawyers using the iPad. The universal app allows users to store and manage documents on their iOS device, and does a great job with PDFs, giving users the ability to annotate, markup and highlight them. The app costs $3.
Chase Mobile – Users can view their account balances on most bank apps, but Chase Mobile also allows users to deposit checks. “Use you iPhone to scan the check, and a few taps later your check is deposited—without you having to go to the bank,” said Barrett.
Fastcase – This free app allows users to access case law and statutes on the iPad and iPhone. You can run searches and retrieve items by citation. According to Richardson, “every lawyer should download this app now.”
iType2go – Avoid accidents while walking and texting at the same time with this app, which includes a see-through screen that uses the iPhone camera to show users where they are while typing. The free version is fun to test, and for $1.99 users can send messages without leaving the app.
Photogene – This photo-editing app has dozens of the tools users would expect—crop, straighten, filters, rotation, white balance, etc.—with a dead simple interface. Users can define editing presets to apply to multiple photos. Trautz, Richardson and Barrett said the app is best used on the iPad. The iPad version costs $3.99.
LogMeIn Ignition – This universal app allows users to remotely control any PC or Mac, as long as that computer is kept on. LogMeIn brings programs that can only run on a computer—such as billing and document management software—to users’ iPhone or iPad.
Penultimate – This app turns your iPad into a handwriting note pad—without OCR or the conversion of handwriting to text. With a variety of ink colors and note taking styles, Penultimate exports users’ notes to PDF. It’s an iPad-only app, and costs $2.99.
Word Lens – As an immigration lawyer, Trautz finds this app useful. “It instantly translates printed words from Spanish to English or English to Spanish using the iPhone camera. Just point the app at a sign or document and watch the words change immediately.” The app is free, but each language-to-language dictionary is $9.99.
Keynote – Apple’s Keynote for designing and delivering slide presentations is available for the iPad at $9.99. Barrett, who created and presented slides for his TECHSHOW session using Keynote for iPad, said he prefers using this version over the desktop one. While the iPad app has fewer features than the desktop application, it has more than enough horsepower. “I actually find the limited features a plus as it makes me focus on my content,” he explained.
Siri Assistant – This free app serves as a text/voice-activated personal assistant. Just tell the app what you want—Where is the nearest gas station? Call United Airlines.—and it will figure it out for you. Google Mobile is good too; but Siri Assistant is usually faster.
Text’nDrive – Avoid the temptation to text or e-mail while driving with this productivity app. Users first register their e-mail account, then—when they start the app—it reads their texts and e-mails as the messages arrive. The basic version is free, but to send response messages, pop for the pro version at $9.99 or wait for frequent half-price sales.
Learn more about legal technology from Barrett on Tablet Legal, Jeff Richardson on iPhone J.D. and Trautz on Reid my Blog!
ABA TECHSHOW is the world’s premier legal technology CLE conference and expo, and is presented by the Law Practice Management Section.