Microsoft Office for iPad – It’s About Freaking Time

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Yep, it’s finally here. After lots of promises and years of delay, Microsoft has finally released a true Office for iPad suite (no more emulations from third parties). Maybe this move is to counter Apple’s semi-recent decision to bundle its iLife apps (Pages, Numbers  and Keynote) for free. Maybe they just finally got around to it. Who knows? But here it is, so I figured I should check out exactly what Microsoft is offering to Apple users.

As expected, Office for iPad is a collection of three apps  - Word, Excel and Powerpoint, of course, in addition to the previously available Microsoft – iPad offerings.  The apps are free, but there is a catch – to do more than view (in other words, to create or edit) docs, you will need the Office 365 subscription, ranging from $6.99 to $9.99 per month for Home Personal or Premium, or one of their business subscriptions. Then, the tablet will have access to the same material available through Office Online, including use of OneDrive for storage.  With an Office 365 subscription, you get five tablet set ups and five desktop setups of the suite.

The apps for iPad are more robust than one might think – they do look like their desktop counterparts to a degree. Of course, with the emphasis on touch interface. Most common features are included in the iPad version, while more arcane features remain desktop only (for example, you can footnote on the iPad, but forget about Mailings and Reference tools). Manipulating text follows the usual iOS protocols for selecting, cutting, pasting, etc. You can track changes, co-author docs, and spell check (although there is no grammar checking or thesaurus tools). There are 16 templates in Excel for iPad, which should cover most of the scenarios you would need on a mobile basis.

For free, you can read, view and present. For a monthly fee, you can create and edit. I would imagine the cost would be justified in the business setting if you are a heavily Office-oriented firm. You can get a 30 day free trial of Office 365, so you can assess whether the new mobile / desktop setup would work well for you. Make sure you are running iOS 7 or later. Oh, and they have versions for your iPhone and Android device as well.

Check out the promo video and screenshots below. The apps are nothing if not beautiful to look at.

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Dropbox Tips

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Despite all the concerns and discussion out there over cloud usage by legal professionals, Dropbox still remains one of the most popular applications among lawyers. I am not going to discourse on whether or not that should be the case – the internet is rife with the opinions of very capable commenters on the subject – just remember that there are Bar rules out there about lawyers employing reasonable measures to ensure security when using the cloud. My personal use, however, takes into account the potential risks as well as rewards of using this free and cheap multi-user, cross-device sync app that a majority of cloud users have embraced. That means I enable security features whenever possible and store documents I have no fear of others potentially having access to.  While that may limit others’ use of the service, I still find plenty of utility in Dropbox when I need to collaborate or share with someone else – and I have chosen not to use my other favorite sharing / storage service, Google Drive.

First, as with any other online service, make sure you have a very secure password – please, no 1234567! Did you know that is one of the most popular passwords out there? No duh! Make it hard to crack with letters, numbers, symbols and mixed caps. Also, disable automatic user log in on your computer and log out on your devices when not using the service. And, now that they offer it, enable two-factor verification – I have it on all services that allow for it, like Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. Dropbox has it too – all this means is that when you (or anyone) attempts to log into your account on Dropbox, you will get a text message on your phone with a verification code that you will also need to enter to get into your folders. Dropbox also encrypts files on its side of the fence and you can too – check out Boxcrypter, which I wrote about here in the Studio, for an extra level of encryption on YOUR side of the fence. Some content creations applications, like Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat, let you password protect at the document level. You also can set Dropbox to selectively sync only certain files, thus limiting unwanted access where syncing isn’t really necessary.  No guarantees that these steps will prevent any and all security breaches, but it certainly improves your odds in keeping your data intact.

Besides syncing, sharing and backup, there are some pretty cool uses for Dropbox. Automatically upload your photos from your devices to Dropbox by enabling the auto upload feature in the app. Set up remote printing by creating a print queue folder, and setting up a script that will look to the folder and print locally at home anything you add to it while on the road (thanks Amit Agarwal at Digital Inspiration Blog). If you use 1Password for your secure password storage, you can use Dropbox as a password backup application. Backup your WordPress blog to Dropbox using plug ins such as  WordPress Backup to DropboxWP Time Machine andBackupBox. Use Wappwolf to automatically share, convert files, sync, zip, unzip, encrypt, decrypt  and employ actions in other applications such as  Evernote, Facebook, Flickr using Dropbox. There is little doubt that Dropbox’s popularity is one of its benefits – there are plenty of very smart users out there who create applications to extend the reach and utility of Dropbox because they use it too.

One last little gift to you: MakeUseOf has a cool chart showing off some of Dropbox’s tips, tricks, keyboard shortcuts, and tools and plug ins. Check it out – this really only scratches the surface of what you can do with the service. And remember, always sync responsibly!

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Do Lawyers Have Their Heads In the Clouds?

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Sometimes, as a heavy duty user of cloud tools and a vocal advocate of same, I take for granted that others have the same awareness of and comfort level with them as I do. Not necessarily so, it appears. Less than a year ago, Citrix published a study that revealed that most people were a bit confused about the topic. Their blog post reporting on the study posted a few somewhat humorous highlights, such as:

  • 95% of those who think they’re not using the cloud, actually are
  • 3 in 5 (59%) believe the “workplace of the future” will exist entirely in the cloud
  • 40% believe accessing work information at home in their “birthday suit” would be an advantage
  • More than 1/3 agree that the cloud allows them to share information with people they’d rather not be interacting with in person
  • After being provided with the definition of the cloud, 68% recognized its economic benefits
  • 14% have pretended to know what the cloud is during a job interview

So, how do lawyers measure up against the more general population of cloudless masses? The ABA conducts a Legal Tech survey every year, the actual results of which I admittedly don’t read because the multi-volume set is a bit pricier than I would like to fork over. So I tend to depend on the reviews and reports by those more in the legal tech know than I, such as bloggers Bob Ambrogi and Nikki Black.  I encourage you to hit the links to get more details on the results of the latest survey. But I can summarize for you that attorneys’ use of the cloud has grown significantly over the past year, with the  larger percentage of respondents assigning the greatest importance to time and billing and case management applications. Interestingly, though, the top four most used applications by lawyers are not legal-specific apps but are consumer apps – Dropbox, Google Docs, iCloud and Evernote, in that order.  As it appears, lawyers are ahead of the curve on cloud awareness and adoption. Yay, us.

But maybe you need a bit more information and guidance on the cloud and what it means to you as a lawyer. Well, I have the goods for you. Or, rather, MyCase – a cloud-based case management software company – has them, in the form of a nice slideshow. Check it out and be informed!

Fastcase & William S. Hein Publishing – Like a Reese’s Cup

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Just caught the news over a Slaw that my favorite cheap reasonably priced web-based legal research resource Fastcase has partnered with William S. Hein Publishing to offer inline hyperlinks to Hein subscribers that link to Fastcase  federal and state case law, while offering Fastcase users access to Hein’s historical state statutory data and law review collection in search results. Nice to see these well-respected resources partnering to offer more to subscribers. This is a benefit to those groups that is worth noting. Hein will get Fastcase’s primary coverage of SCOTUS opinions from 1754 to present, Federal Circuits 1924 to present, Board of Tax Appeals, Tax Court Memorandum Decisions, U.S. Customs Court, Board of Immigration Appeals 1996 to present, Federal District Courts 1924 to present, Federal Bankruptcy courts from volume one to present, as well as state case law from all 50 states, dating back from at least 1950. Fastcase will get Hein’s Law Journal Library, Seesion Laws Library, State Attorney General Reports and Opinions, and State Statutes: A Historical Archive. Hein gets Fastcase access at no charge and Fastcase gets Hein abstracts at no charge, but Fastcase subscribers will need the Hein subscription to get full access to Hein materials. These are the first secondary materials that Fastcase has sought to integrate, which is exciting news indeed. Anyone willing to take on the Big Two is o.k. in my book.

Still In Mourning Over Google Reader

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I have had an awful lot of loss recently. Some quite personal, and some smack in the public eye. Take, for instance, the untimely (although not unexpected) demise of perhaps my all time favorite web tool, my secret weapon in the pursuit of knowledge, my endless font of material for my beloved blog, my source of inspiration and enlightenment. Yes. I am talking about Google Reader.

First, a eulogy. Way back in the day, when I made the conscious decision to engage more on the Internet for professional and personal pursuits, one of the very first tools I stumbled on was the RSS feed and companion RSS feed reader. I believe it was in a webinar discussing how to use web tools for legal research. RSS was one of the items items discussed and it struck me right between the eyes as an absolutely brilliant proposition – rather than spend hours searching out news when there was a pending question and even more immediate deadline, why not have the news come to you whenever it was fresh and hot off the presses? You could make yourself look like a genius with very little effort. My first reader application was FeedDemon for Windows (NewNewsWire for Mac / iOS users). It allowed me to easily subscribe and organize feeds. However, as I added more and more sources to my local program, I found that it would bog down and get so cumbersome, I could hardly load new articles. By the way, FeedDemon, which used to have its own sync engine, is going to join Google Reader in the crematory as it is now exclusively powered by Google Reader sync, unless they come up with a solution before July 1.

It was then that I discovered the joy of the cloud-based reading tool that is Google Reader. There, all my subscriptions sat, quietly updating whenever I opened the page, allowing me to folder and subscribe to all sorts of feeds, including custom feeds and alerts, Twitter feeds and social media updates. When I found a site I really liked, I could use Reader to suggest similar blogs and RSS feeds so that I could move deeper into a subject. It had awesome search functionality (no duh! – its Google). And all of this at the speed of virtually real time (or at least as fast as the news sources could update with PubSubHubBub). I would visit Reader daily, sometimes several times a day, watching the new items fill the screen, hungry for more hot-off-the-presses stories on my favorite subjects. And, with the click of a button, share my findings with the world.

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After discovering Feedly, the application that offers stories based on your interests built on your Google Reader subscriptions, I spent less direct time on the Reader app itself. However, I would still regularly visit to prune and add content, and read stories without the Feedly filter to prioritize based on its best guess on my interests.

And now, all of that is about to fly out the proverbial virtual window. As of July 1, 2013, Google Reader will be no more. The writing was scrawled upon the wall about a year or more ago as Google made it quite clear that the social aspects of Reader (yes, there were social aspects), were being handily addressed on its new social net Google+. And, the scuttlebutt around the Web is that Google didn’t want to commit resources to ensure the Reader team kept their product in compliance with privacy and other regulatory constraints.

Whatever the reason, the net effect for me (and it really is all about me) is the loss of a fantastic, well-designed, productivity tool. So, as the reality of the loss sinks in, one has to wonder: how to pick up the pieces and move on?

Fortunately, there are so many creative and effective minds on the web that the loss of something as fantastic as Google Reader has not gone unnoticed and unaddressed. There are plenty of options out there for subscribing, digesting and manipulating RSS feeds and news stories. As a public service to Studio readers, I thought I would include some here. As Kubler-Ross theorized, we all undoubtedly will proceed through the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining (remember that petition to the White House?), depression, and acceptance. And I will have the goods here for when you have hit that “it’s time to move on” point in your own process.

I should offer a caveat – I have not tried many of these alternatives so can’t offer the hands on. I have collected many of them while reading the Web news via, you guessed it, Google Reader. However, if I have had a personal experience, I will mention where appropriate.

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Desktop Options

NewsBlur. NewsBlur is one of those reader applications that will offer news based on its best guess as to your interests, based on your past reading and liking / disliking behavior. Using the Intelligent Trainer tool, you can tailor each individual feed based on your interests. It looks pretty much like any other standard reader program, with folders in the left nav and articles in the main panel on the right. You can import your Google Reader subscriptions into NewsBlur. You can also import from desktop programs the OPML file containing your subscriptions. The problem for me is that NewsBlur’s free account accommodates 64 feeds, which is woefully inadequate for my existing library. But it is only $12 per year for unlimited feeds, which is pretty reasonable given my use of this particular type of service. There are a few different ways to view feeds as well, which is more dynamic than Reader’s approach.

Skimr. A stripped down approach to feeds, with the ability to import OPML subscription files, but no inbox daunting you with a mounting unread list. Access your feeds individual to view content.

Fever. How about a self-hosted RSS reader app that you host on your own server? That takes away the uncertainty of a free service getting pulled out from underneath you. Fever offers just that – simply upload 4 files via FTP, add a MySQL database, and create an account. There is a $30 one time fee to Fever’s developer, plus the cost of your own hosting, but if you already have that set up, you are good to go upon price of admission.

The Old Reader. It is what it says – a version of an RSS subscription tool that looks like the old Google Reader. You can transfer feeds in or upload your OPML file. It also has the old news sharing features and social aspects of Google Reader before they were stripped in lieu of Google+. Nice for those who prefer not to be too jarred in the upset of Reader’s demise.

Tiny Tiny RSS.  Another player and I can’t believe how much it resembles Reader in looks. Tiny Tiny RSS is an open source web-based news feed (RSS/Atom) reader and aggregator, designed to allow you to read news from any location, while feeling as close to a real desktop application as possible. Free, too.

NetVibes. A web-based reader alternative, among NetVibes toolset is a RSS subscription / reader function. Create a free account and then click the add button. You can import your feeds using the subscription.xml file and will see them in NetVibes in the same folders as in your Reader app. View your feeds in Reader or Widgets view. Search is lacking in the app, and you can really only use your built in browser search box. They call it a monitoring dashboard, but my sense is that its best free use is as a feed reader.

HiveMined. A relatively new player, HiveMined’s developer is sensitive to the post-mortem pain we are feeling about Reader and is working hard to replicate the best parts. There is not much to say about it right now, but the developer is working furiously and you can keep up to date via his Twitter account and  blog.

Feedly. This is my go to RSS reader right now, especially since the developers saw the writing on the wall for Reader a while ago and have cloned the Reader API. If you sync Feedly with Reader now (or have already done so), they claim the switch will be seamless. There are a lot of other reasons to love Feedly, with its awesome user interface, recommendations and learning engine, easy sharing, and great mobile applications. That, combined with the powerful back end of Reader, has been a winning combination for me.

Good Noows. Web only, which can be a bit of a detraction, but this is a nice looking easy to use Web-based reader. Add it via Chrome extension. Sign in with a preexisting social account. Easily add feeds. If this is what you need it for, then this is a nice alternative.

FeedaMail. Are you still reading your news via email? then FeedaMail might be your answer. Submit your favorite blogs, links and sites to the app, and get back digests and instant updates in your email. This is great for either web viewing or mobile viewing, but if you are like me and get antsy when your email inbox gets to full, you might opt for something else.

RSSOwl. A desktop option that claims to be platform independent. It looks a lot like a traditional reader program as well. There are lots of features, so head over to their site for more – you can search and organize, use the built in browser, create bins and labels and share the goods.

Rolio. If you like the real-time river of Twitter or other news feed type interfaces, Rolio will do that for you with your RSS feeds. But you aren’t limited to your RSS subscriptions – add in your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn feeds as well. And, because this is all about the Google Reader loss, you can import your Google Reader feeds as well.

River2. If you need to get some real RSS cred, why not turn to the guy who invented the protocol in the first place? River2 is Dave Winer’s application offering another River of News (only new feeds showing, with newest first in descending order) take on the RSS reader. It runs in an OPML Editor that implementing a River of News aggregator. It will collect feeds, podcasts, photos, reading lists, and real time feed support. No doubt it is geeky, but for you geeks out there, this might be a cool tool to tinker with.

QuiteRSS. Notching it up with a bit more geek-appeal, check out QuiteRSS – an RSS/Atom feed reader built on Qt/C++. It’s a local desktop app, which might appeal more to some, less to others. But it is cross-platform. The interface is clean and simple. It has a built in browser that works nicely and there are lots of fine-grained viewing options. Add labels and custom icons and tear through your subscriptions with extensive keyboard shortcuts.

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Mobile Options

There are a bunch of options that principally or only work on mobile devices, iOS, Android or both or others. They are all great in their own right for different reasons and you may want to use one or more of them to keep abreast of the latest news on the go. My favorite option above, Feedly, has awesome mobile apps. But here are others that shine or live only on mobile and they have much to offer as well.

Pulse. Like most of the mobile apps, the focus is on presentation. Pulse is no exception. It offers a nice social mag-like UI. You have to work a bit to create and maintain lists of blogs and sites. But, its free and glossy, so you can’t be disappointed by its value. iOS and Android.

Flipboard. Flipboard was the first and still still probably the best social magazine app on mobile. Create your own personal magazine using your Twitter feeds, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Soundcloud and, until this summer, Google Reader feeds. Gorgeous and free, if not deep. But if you need to glance fast across your feeds, this is a great tool.

Taptu. Driven by images, but it is indeed an RSS reader. Use one of your social accounts to log in and customize and sync feeds on iOS and Android, as well as a few other mobile devices.

Google Currents. With my new Nexus 4, I have been using this app more and more. It is a great news magazine style reader with amazing attention to detail (images on read items go from full color to black and white). I like the organization and find it easy to scan through a lot of news quickly. It works with any Google account and is available on iOS and Android.

Zite. I can’t rave enough about this great app – it not only pulls the stories it believes I would find the most interesting from my existing feed subscriptions, it offers similar stories of interest from across the Web. I have subscribed to more than one new feed because it was served up to me via Zite. And, the Zite team just announced  it has built a Google Reader replacement for its service. While it will only works with Zite, it syncs with Reader feeds and is available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

Reeder. Reeder works on Mac and iOS, the latter is where I principally use it. It currently depends on Reader accounts as it is a true Google Reader interface app. But after the death knell sounded, Reeder’s developer suggested in Twitter that Reeder won’t die with Reader. What a relief!

I can’t guarantee an exhaustive list here, but as you can see, there are plenty of apps available to fill portions of the gigantic gap that will be left in the wake of Google Reader. Who knows, perhaps an eleventh hour reprieve will materialize? I would like to hope. But the pragmatist in me has my ducks all lined up for the eventual loss. Hope you do too – RSS is definitely not dead, if the massive outcry on the Web about Reader’s shuttering is any indication.

 

Infographic: How Lawyers “Go Mobile”

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It’s been a while so time for a visual aid. I love this great, targeted infographic on lawyers’ use of mobile devices. This image really gets at the where, when and how. Thanks to Niki Black at MyCase for the tip off – if you aren’t familiar with MyCase, check out their website. They offer a great, cloud-based practice management application that supports agile lawyers and is as mobile friendly as they get.

Via MyCase Blog

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Getting Productive in January, 2013. With Apps.

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New Year, new clean slate. New resolutions, new start, or restart, or reboot, as it were. With smart mobile devices, it is easier than ever to organize, prioritize and accomplish goals. Seems now is a good time to highlight some of my favorite mobile apps to help you on your way. Some of these have been mentioned here before, some are new. I am pretty sure you will find something in the list to meet a need or two.

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Prismatic

Free

First off, I can think of no more effective and efficient way to parse the content flowing through Twitter, Facebook and Google+ than with Prismatic. This great iOS app reorganizes your Twitter feed to promote the content that is of the greatest interest to you. Enough of the Foursquare checkins and cat pictures. Prismatic will send along content from your tried and true sources, as well as offer up new sources of material to pique your interest. The UI is beautifully designed and gesture-based controls make a lot of sense – I find it very easy to use and effective for slicing through a lot of material very quickly. For those who have resolved to wade through their news sources more effectively and efficiently, Prismatic is the tool of choice.

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CloudOn

Free

If you are on Android or iOS, and you want to get as close to that Microsoft Office experience as possible, look no farther than CloudOn. Another previous feature here in the Studio, CloudOn not only gives you a meaty Office experience, it links you to Box, DropBox, Google Drive and SkyDrive to keep your mobile device at a decent fighting weight. It also features built in Adobe Reader and File Viewer tools. With the mainstays of Word, Excel and Powerpoint, most of your Office needs can be met with CloudOn on the go. Create and share and track your changes easily with the FileSpace feature. For those who have resolved to get more document drafting and editing work done while mobile, CloudOn is your best bet.

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Sparrow

$2.99

Let’s face it, the iOS Mail app, even with iOS 6 tweaks, still leaves something to be desired. If you are left wanting more in your mobile email client, check out Sparrow. If you can live without Push notifications (and really, can’t we all?) there really is a lot in this package. Pull all your emails, IMAP and POP, into a unified inbox and directly attach photos & images when composing without having to move between apps. Easily navigate with up and down swiping in a threaded conversation, and swipe once to uncover your mailboxes, labels and folders or swipe again to get to your account list. Mail will show profile images, and swipe to star, add labels, archive or delete. Smart contacts keep your most frequent contacts on top of the list. Enable send and archive to quickly unload your inbox and use a built-in web browser to navigate the web within Sparrow. Tapping and swiping moves you quickly between mailboxes and you can single click to mark all as read. Pull to refresh and leverage Priority inbox support. You can also use email Aliases. Search gets you local mail as well as remote mail on the server. Very nice indeed. And there is more. For those who have resolved to get on top of taming their email inbox, Sparrow has got you covered.

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Paper

Free, with in-app purchase for more tools.

Are you embarrassed by your attempts to render a picture? Would you like to be able to sketch your ideas and show them to others without your audience looking at your art with sympathy? If you have an iPad and want to be able to present your visual ideas easily and smartly, check out this iPad drawing app. It truly makes anyone’s scribbles look compelling and polished. Paper doesn’t overwhelm with an overly complicated interface and too many tools. There are just enough variables and options to keep your work interesting, but not so many that you will struggle with what to toggle next. Paper also employs some smart algorithmic magic behind the scenes to help your work look its best, with its expressive ink engine. Easily share what you have done via email, or on Tumblr, Facebook or Twitter. For those who have resolved to get more in touch with their right brain, Paper may offer the edge you need.

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Pocket

Free

How many times you have been browsing the Web, stumbled on something pretty cool or interesting or on-point, but had insufficient time to fully digest it or use it for your intended purpose and later lost access to it? You may not have heard of Pocket, but you might be familiar with the by its previous name – ReadItLater. Pocket is a shinier version of the Web notebook/bookmarking tool for Android and iOS, with visually appealing thumbnails of your saved media, and the compelling ability to save and then access the content across devices, even without an internet connection. Save stuff to your Pocket when your online and then read or view to your heart’s content while flying or out of internet range. Saves from your browser as well as from some of the finest content curation tools and apps, like Twitter, Zite, Flipboard and Pulse. Share the stuff you really want to keep from Pocket into Evernote, another Studio favorite tool. For those that have resolved to more effectively save, read and organize their content even without an internet connection, Pocket is the way to go.

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Zite

Free

With all that news out there on the web, wouldn’t it be nice if someone or something could simply pick the best stuff for you, the stuff that is most interesting, and give it to you in an easy to read layout with simple sharing tools? Wouldn’t it be great if your news curation assistant got smarter every time the two of you interacted? This is possible with another Studio feature, Zite. Zite initially was iOS only, but is now available on Android and Windows Phone 7 too and I find myself turning to it first when I don’t have a great deal of time to read and really only want to get the most important highlights on my most favorite news topics. And, like Prismatic, Zite will throw your some curveballs with new sources or topics that may be of interest based on your interests, so it never gets stale. For those looking to get the best, on-point news quickly and effortlessly, Zite is the go-to source.

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Google Drive

Free

While I have absolutely nothing against Dropbox, when I think free, agile and generous online file storage, I think Google Drive. Introduced this year to great anticipation and fanfare, Drive offers mobile solutions to tap into the Google cloud, edit and share your content and easily free up space on your mobile for more important things, like family pictures. Drive is a no-brainer on Android, but even the iOS app shines with features. Offline access and easy uploads make the process of moving content around painless and fast. And now, with the interaction of Gmail and Drive, you can send 10GB files out of your Drive and that is impressive by anyone’s standards. For those looking to maximize content management and local space, Google Drive is my favorite solution.

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Brewster

Free

Struggling with social fatigue because your contacts are spread out across mobile and desktop address books and social media outlets? Feeling like it is nearly impossible to reach out and touch someone, especially someone whose contact information you can’t easily find because you can’t remember where its stored? Brewster for iOS is a contact management app that combines all of your address sources into a single “book” on your device, matches pictures to contact information and even organizes those contacts intelligently so you can quickly access your closest contacts and view interactions. Easily search contacts or create your own lists. Quickly view contacts using images and tiles rather than text heavy alphabetical entries. For those resolving to stay in better contact with their numerous contacts, Brewster hits it out of the park.

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Khan Academy

Free

Feeling your brain leaking out all that valuable information you crammed in back in high school and college? Missing Stats or wishing you had a better grasp on chemistry? If you need a refresher or would like to get a decent overview in a subject, then you might want to check out Khan Academy’s more than 3,500 free video tutorials. Get them on the go on your iOS device and download them for offline watching on the iPad. View subtitles, and track your viewing progress with “credits” in the Academy. Khan covers a massive number of different topics, and you can too when you have some time between obligations and happen to have your iDevice handy. For those resolving to exercise their brains and broaden their educational horizons, enroll in the Khan Academy with their mobile app.

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LogMeIn

Free and Pro Paid Subscription

If you are out and suddenly find a need to access your home or office computer, what do you do? You hope you have downloaded to your computer and device the able LogMeIn app that will allow you to remotely access and control your desktop computer. The free iOS app offers remote control of PCs and Macs over WiFi and 3G and can connect to as many computers as you like. Access your home and work computers on the go and get to files on your computer and edit them on your mobile device. Remotely run any application on your computer from your iPhone or iPad. Even fix computer problems remotely. If you pay the subscription for Pro features, get HD video and sound streaming from any device or Pro enabled computer, use their My Cloud Bank integration to link the LogMeIn app with various cloud services, transfer files and folders between computers and save them to your device with File Manager, remotely print to any AirPrint compatible printer and use the Photo App management feature to access and transfer photos from or to your iPad and iPhone photo libraries. All the benefits of your desktop in your pocket and without the bulk. For those resolving not to forget to run their important desktop tasks, LogMeIn is a great way to go.

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I could really go on and on with these great apps – I have found lots of them over the course of the past five years of using mobile devices. But this should be a pretty decent start on the road to a more productive 2013. Happy New Year!

 

Lots of Legal Apps For You

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Want to check out new legal apps for your mobile device? Thank the fine folks over at the UCLA School of Law / Hugh & Hazel Darling Law Library for a very nice list of interesting tools to boost your mobile, legal productivity. There are nearly 60 apps listed, some of which I have mentioned here in the Studio before, but plenty more that are new to me and maybe new to you. I won’t mention them all here – hit the jump above for the complete list. But I do have to mention a few that look particularly fun, such as the following (quoted from the site):

 

wolfram

 

The Wolfram Lawyer’s Professional Assistant is a legal reference tool that provides access to a dictionary of legal terms, statutes of limitations for each state in the U.S., a tool for calendar calculations, a variety of calculators, and crime rate and demographic data. The app is powered by the Wolfram|Alpha computational knowledge engine and is compatible for use on all iOS devices. The app sells for $4.99 and may be downloaded from the iTunes App Store.

 

 

 

mobiletranMobile Transcript is an app that provides attorneys with the ability to read deposition transcripts formatted for their devices. Transcripts are uploaded by attorneys’ court reporters to the Mobile Transcript website, which in turn downloads the transcripts to the attorneys’ devices (court reporters must hold asubscription with Mobile Transcript to be able to upload transcripts). The app allows attorneys to highlight and flag text. The app is FREE and is available for use on iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad devices, as well as Droid and Blackberry devices. For iPhone and iPod devices, the app may be downloaded from theiTunes App Store. Mobile Transcript has a separate app optimized for the iPad that may be downloaded from the iTunes App Store. The app for Blackberry smartphones may be downloaded from the Mobile Transcript website, and the Droid version may be downloaded from Google Play.

 

legalnewsapp

 

The Legal News Reader app is a simple RSS feed aggregator that retrieves important news stories from a number of legal news sites, thereby allowing the user to keep up to date on developments in the news in one convenient place. The app allows users to comment on articles, to read comments left by others, and to share stories with others. The app is $0.99 and may be downladed from the iTunes App Store.

 

 

 

pocketThe PocketJustice FULL app provides you with abstracts of the U.S. Supreme Court’s constitutional decisions and access to audio files for its public sessions. The app includes voting alignments and biographical sketches for all 110 Justices, searchable transcripts, and information and audio for more than 600 constitutional law cases heard in the U.S. Supreme Court. The full version of the app is available for $4.99 and may be downloaded from the iTunes App Storefor use on the iPhone and iPod Touch (a FREE version may also be downloaded from the iTunes App Store, but it offers fewer features). The app may also be downloaded for use on Android devices from Google Play for $4.99.

 

 

And there are lots more to check out. Load them up and head out with your law office in your pocket.

Infographic: Apps Programmed for Consumption

Another great infographic from my friend Sarah Wenger on smartphones, mobile apps and just how integrated they have and will become in our lives. Sometimes numbers can be frightening, but Sarah makes them quite visually appealing. How many apps do you have on YOUR smartphone?

Apps: Programmed for Consumption
Created by: www.OnlineBachelorDegreePrograms.com

Have You SEEN The New Outlook.com?

Wow. Really. This is not your father’s Microsoft Hotmail. At the end of July, Microsoft announced its new Metro-styled Outlook.com Preview, which you can upgrade to from your Live or Hotmail accounts. The look is fantastic. Even the animations are top-notch. Clean and easy to read and navigate, this new, free, web-based email client can really look Google and its venerable Gmail right in the eye.

 

The UI is impressive, while the layout is familiar – three columns containing your left navigation / folders and such, the main center panel with your message lists and open messages and a far right column with the new Command Bar that dynamically changes depending on the email you are looking at. When you connect your social accounts, that bar will show key information from those social sites pertaining to the message sender / recipients in the right column. That column also holds messaging activity, as well as Microsoft-served ads.

 

 

The top bar contains the key functions  - hover over “Outlook” in the far left corner and click the drop down arrow to see nav buttons to People, Calendar and SkyDrive.

 

 

“New” opens the email editor, which contains simple but effective formating tools, again in that clean interface. Because I created a new name for my Outlook account, I can select in this dialog whether I want to send the email from my new Outlook account or my old Windows Live account. You can send, save as draft, spell check, change from rich format to plain text to HTML, select high, normal or low priority, attach files or cancel the process entirely. Much is hidden in this interface but these tools are very intuitive and easy to figure out. Click on the dialog bubble to the right along the top bar and open a message box for instant messaging via Skype (coming soon), Facebook Chat or Windows Live Messenger. Click the gear to access the various options available to modify your mail settings and other details. Click on your name and picture at the far right to edit your account settings and availability for chat.

 

The default is for threaded conversations, again much like Gmail, which is new to Microsoft mail products. But much of the underlying Hotmail remains – simply right click on elements and you will get context menus that reveal those features. Another cool feature – web versions of Word, Excel and Powerpoint are built in, and can be edited on the site. Currently no offline support, but hopefully this is something Microsoft will add down the road.

 

When you connect your social sites, Outlook will attempt to merge contact information for individuals from the various sites into one contact card. With the new look over at SkyDrive, switching between Mail, Contacts and SkyDrive will offer a seamless experience. Unfortunately, the Calendar app is still pure Hotmail, which looks a bit bizarre next to its shinier cousins. Mobile looks great – the simple interface works beautifully on phones and tablets. SkyDrive has just moved out of preview – along with the similar UI, you get a new desktop and tablet browser with instant search, contextual toolbar, thumbnail multi-select, drag-and-drop organization, and HTML5 sorting, desktop & OS X apps for faster uploads, SkyDrive for Android which allows access, uploading and sharing from Android phones. Together, Outlook.com and SkyDrive are building a credible competitor to Gmail, Docs and Google Drive. I will offer more detail on the new SkyDrive UI in a separate post, but take a look below at how great it looks:

 

 

The image above to the left in the docs pane looks blurry because I snapped the screenshot while the slideshow was rolling through the images – a really great feature.

 

I am very impressed with Microsoft’s direction here. Along with rumors about a $199 Surface Tablet, the press on Windows 8 and the great Metro interface and the new look and feel of Microsoft’s web applications, I believe they get the importance of modernizing the Office experience. I am excited to delve into Outlook.com and Skydrive and give these apps a run for their money. And, maybe, my next tablet may be a Windows-based slate. One never knows.