What's New, Google? Drive & Chrome for iOS

 

Earlier today, a couple of colleagues and I were talking about what’s new in tech this week. I didn’t even hesitate – for me, the big news is Google Chrome and Google Drive for iOS. Not surprisingly, the news is full of Google right now with the Google I/O in full swing. While Chrome for Android is now officially out of beta as well, which is very cool, Apple device users have had to wait to leverage Chrome on their mobile devices.

 

So, what can you expect from the free apps? Chrome is, of course, Google’s agile browser. Drive is Google’s answer to Dropbox. Chrome for iOS, while slower than Safari because of some technical advantages offered to Apple’s own browser, Safari, still syncs bookmarks, passwords and your history pages, has unlimited tabs, offers incognito mode, it comes with Omnibox and Google Voice Search. In short, you can access your saved stuff – bookmarks and pages – from you desktop to your mobile. If you are a diehard Chrome fan, you will love it. If not, then it might not sway you from Safari, with the superior speed and native integration.

 

Like the Chrome for iOS, which is missing some of the features of the Android counterpart (what do you want? Android is a Google property), the Drive app is also less full figured than the Android version. You can’t edit documents or upload. You do get a much better interface than the web, and you can leverage the awesome image search Drive offers via Google Goggles. And, you can access files,  share with others, preview or open files with other applications and download the files for offline availability.

 

While there are some features left desired, hopefully we are dealing with Version 1.0 here and Version 2.0 will pick up the slack. In the meantime, it is far better to have them than to want them, so I see these infant apps as a good first step. And, just to throw something else in there, Google Docs is now offering offline editing of Google’s own docs – long awaited and highly anticipated. Thanks Google.

 

Google Chrome vid:

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PlagTracker – A Free Plagiarism Checker

 

Not that any of the attorneys I know would EVER do this, but just to be sure that your document or paper is free of any surreptitiously lifted content, you can always turn to PlagTracker. It’s an online tool that will scan your document, compare the language to its own database of papers as well as website content (like Wikipedia for example), and will return a redlined version pointing out the problems.

 

Simply enter the content of your paper in the text box. The report back includes information about the portions of the content that need citations and a list of the sources to be cited.

 

I read through their privacy policy and can’t really vouch for security based on what I read, so consider that when entering content. But, for a run of the mill research paper, concerns should not be too overwhelming. The site also references a “premium subscription”, but I couldn’t find an adequate explanation of what that entails. Better security, perhaps?

 

All in all, as long as you keep these concerns in mind, it never hurts to have a free option for checking your content for originality and attribution.

Fun With Google Voice

To celebrate my class as Solo Practice University this week on Google Calendar and Tasks, I am going to highlight an upcoming class’ subject – Google Voice, and mention some of its great features. Remember when Google Voice was brand new and everyone got very excited about being able to call for free from their computer or port calls through or to their various phones? It’s now just over three years old and has matured into a very awesome tool for organizing your telephone activity.

 

Google Voice started life as GrandCentral, which Google snapped up to serve as the telephony part of the Google applications suite. The app launched on March 11, 2009, initially as invitation only, and now available to all Gmail subscribers. You access Google Voice via the web, and Android device or an iOS app. Google Voice provides free PC-to-Phone calling and PC-to-PC voice and video calling worldwide between users of the Google Voice and Video Chat browser plugin, and very reasonably priced calling via other means.

 

Sure, you can place calls, or route them from any phone to your Google Voice number. You can get audio voicemail and transcripts of those messages, configure personalized greetings by number, conference calling, and even port your mobile number over to Google Voice. But there are some lesser known cool features that are worth a mention too. Maybe it’s time to take another look at Google Voice.

 

You can blog by Google Voice or set up a Google Voice voicemail button on your blog to literally hear from readers. You can listen to your voicemails while they are happening – sort of like eavesdropping on your messages. Use it for free text messaging.  Share voicemails with others by emailing them the audio. Record your phone calls. Listen to Google Voice voicemails while still in Gmail. And, more recently added, organize your Google Voice experience by using your Circles from Google+ – have one set of routing instructions and greetings for one circle and a different set for another circle.

 

Just a few of the different things you can do with this great standout telephone product! If you want to learn how, then check into my upcoming classes at the Everything Google course at Solo Practice University. And happy calling!

 

The Advocate Speaks: "What's On My iPad"

 

I subscribe to the most excellent iPad-centric blog iPad Insight and have been enjoying their series called “What’s On My iPad.” The posts are interviews with a wide variety of iPad users and get into some details on how these people use their iPad and their favorite apps and such. iPad Insights is authored by Patrick Jordan, a friend of mine from Friendfeed and Google+. So, the other day, when Patrick asked if I would agree to participate as an interviewee, I jumped at the great opportunity.

 

If you would like to see “What’s On My iPad”, hit the jump here to see the post. If you want to get great iPad-related information, you might want to subscribe to this great blog. And big thanks Patrick for the fun.

 

WWDC 2012 – The (Near) Future of Apple

 

Lots to digest from today’s WWDC Keynote, the first fronted by current CEO Tim Cook. Glaringly, albeit unsurprisingly, absent from the keynote was the famous “One More Thing.” But there was plenty more present than absent, in my opinion, in the offerings.

 

It’s hard to give every detail, as the keynote did not attempt to list or explain every detail. With over 200 new features in iOS 6 alone, it would have taken a lot more than two hours to do the list justice. The keynote hits the highlights and the next few days and months will fill in the blanks.

 

The high points include a refresh of the MacBook Airs and MacBook Pro, some with quad core Ivy Bridge processors, up to 8 GB of RAM, improved graphics, and USB 3.0 ports. The real star of this part of the show, though, was the new MacBook Pro 15.9″ with a full blown, 2880 by 1800 resolution Retina Graphics display. With a price as stunning as the new display at $2,199. Ouch.

 

OS X Mountain Lion will bring lots of cool new features as well. The new OS X will include the same dictation function found on the new iPad, with the ability to update statuses on social networks and more. More and better iCloud syncing, including documents, reminders and notes. iMessage is coming to the Mac via Mountain Lion. New Notifications bearing a striking similarity to the iPhone / iPad notifications. Airplay mirroring from your Mac to your Apple TV. Game Center. A Power Nap state allows the Mac to run certain updates while in sleep mode. Safari is about to get measurably better, with a similar search function from the URL bar as Chrome has already been employing, syncing of tabs across devices, greater speed, and more. Mountain Lion will come with a much more modest update price of $19.95.

 

Then, the keynote turned to iOS 6. For me, the best news was Siri coming to the new iPad! Siri is also getting more full featured, with the ability to launch apps and provide sports knowledge, movie listings, and better restaurant interfacing. Like Twitter in iOS 5, Facebook is getting heavily integrated into iOS 6, with instant share for photos, websites, maps and other things. Facebook events and birthdays will sync with the iPhone calendar. And Siri will go hands and eyes free with integration of hardware by auto makers –  Siri and the iPhone will be accessible with the press of a button on the steering wheel.

 

There is a great new set of features for the phone app, believe it or not, including dismissing incoming calls and sending a message to the caller.  Or setting a reminder to respond later. Facetime, previously WiFi only, is about to go cellular too. You can set a “Do Not Disturb” button to silence notifications. Shared Photostreams encourages social photo sharing and commenting. There is a gorgeous new Maps app that all but kills third party navigation apps like Navigon – 3D mapping, turn by turn directions from Siri, Siri integration to launch the mapping app, crowd-sourced, realtime traffic information, and all of this on the lock screen. And it integrates with Yelp to help you find businesses while traveling.

 

iOS 6 also includes the cryptic new Passbook, which collects data such as movie tickets, train tickets, airline tickets, sporting event tickets, making them available in one application. The tickets, etc., will have QRCodes and 2-D barcodes. Passbook will allow you to  purchase tickets through Fandango, have them sent to your iPhone, and then offer access to the movies by simply flashing your iPhone. The lock screen, no less. Same with airline tickets. Very cool.

 

Mobile Safari is also getting spruced up with the ability to sync open tabs from Safari on a desktop to Safari on an iOS device via iCloud. There is also a Read It Later type Reading Lists functionality with a list of items for later perusal when off line. Email has been improved with the ability to designate VIP email senders which allows you to prioritize emails on your iPhone. You will be able to add pictures and videos to emails directly from the email application, rather than the Photo application. There will also be the ability to use different signatures for different email accounts. About time.

 

And this is just a partial list. Looking forward to getting the release in the Fall (maybe September – I am hoping). While I was a bit disappointed not to hear officially about the new iPhone, I was not displeased with the updates to the old standbys, including the introduction of some cool new features. I have seen the (near) future of Apple, and it shines brightly, in very high resolution.

Compare Two PDFs for Differences

 

Probably familiar with the Compare feature in your Word program, but have you ever tried to compare for differences between two PDFs? Not the easiest task, usually. But, as usually is the case, someone has ridden to the rescue with a very cool application called DiffPDF. Open source and available for both Windows and OSX. Once you load up your two docs, you can specify whether you want the application to scan for appearance, characters or words. Differences will then be highlighted in the dual doc window. Compare particular pages or page ranges, or the entire document.

 

 

Local and not web-based, so upload security is not an issue. Very handy to have when you need it. Thanks, Lifehacker and QTrac!

 

Infographic: Compare User Demographics of Popular Social Networks

Haven’t posted an infographic for a while. Here’s one for you that is informative AND great to look at. Found this over at The Blog Herald.

Adonit Writer Plus iPad Keyboard Case

 

I am a big fan of the iPad.  I am a big fan of iPad styli. But iPad keyboard cases? Not so much. Way back when I purchased my first gen iPad, I quickly picked up the Bluetooth Apple keyboard thinking that I would need it for writing anything extended. Well, I have used that keyboard exactly twice in the past two or so years. I periodically watch as reviews for keyboard cases for the iPad float past in my RSS stream and I have, for the most part, ignored them, thinking them to be a great waste of time and money. I type just fine on the screen and, when I want to draw or write with better precision, I turn to my favorite stylus, the Adonit Jot. So, why would I need to drop the better part of a Benjamin or more on a case?

 

This morning, Adonit kindly sent me an email about their latest version of their keyboard case, the Adonit Writer Plus. Seriously, the only reason I even clicked over to it was because it was made by Adonit. The more I looked, read and watched (the YouTube promo video embedded below) the more interested I became. I thought I would share this great looking product with you, with the caveat that I haven’t yet gotten the chance to test it in person. Yet, I say, because this is the one keyboard case that I have seen that I might actually be persuaded to shell out some money for.

 

 

The Writer Plus is the next generation of the Writer (which never even blipped on my radar). Apparently, Plus fixes some of the complaints people had about the first version. The new features include USB recharging, with a two-week battery life – no more swapping out batteries. The Plus also features a new, nicer keyboard (by others’ accounts as I haven’t used it yet).

 

Some other very cool aspects of this case. I like that it is a hard plastic shell that holds the iPad firmly. The hinge system permits lots of viewing angles. You can remove the keyboard and use the case only or just get a better typing angle out of the case – nice. When you close the case, the Writer Plus keyboard and your iPad both go to sleep  – great for preserving the battery. And the built-in magnet in the case holds it closed as well.

 

But the best part of the case is its build. Like the Jot stylus, Adonit builds a very nice product. Brushed aluminum for the keyboard (it comes in colors too, like turquoise and red in addition to standard black). A pleasing fabric covering on the outside. It looks and very likely feels great to use. So nice, in fact, that iLounge gave the Writer Plus a Best of Show award at the 2012 CES.

 

If you are of the mindset that iPads can and should replace laptops, you might also be interested in such cases. I hadn’t been until now. Check out the video below if you would like to see it in action, or visit the link above if you want to snag one of these cases. Adonit hasn’t promised me anything in return for the kind words, other than what appears to be their dedication to making super-fine iPad related products. Thanks, Adonit, just for being you.

 

Lucky Android Now Has Fastcase App

 

I have been a fan of Fastcase on iOS for more than two years and now I have some great news for Android toting lawyers – Fastcase is now available on your Android-powered device! It has a similar interface and feature set as the iOS app; most notably FREE access to case law and available statutes as well as synchronization of research between mobile and desktop. Results come back to you with case name and the most relevant paragraph, with results listed by relevancy ranking. Search terms are highlighted. Using Mobile Sync and desktop access, you can go back on your desktop to stuff you’ve found and saved on your mobile so that you can more easily read and print your results.

 

Bottom line, though, is that these features come to you for free on your mobile. I can think of no other legal mobile app that offers such a great research alternative for so little money. Go, Fastcase!

Quantitative Legal Prediction and You

When one thinks of the practice of law, I imagine one thinks “qualitative”, relegating the “quantitative” to the accountants and actuaries. But the more data we can collect and mine, the more likely even the most judgment-based tasks can be influenced by trends. That is the premise behind the label “quantitative legal prediction” – mining “big data” for trends in legal decisions and court filings, statutory evolution and legal billing and task performance in order to predict outcomes. The ABA Journal reports on an article at Law Technology News  touching on the concept and how it is being used in a few scenarios. How could this work? Imagine crawling the opinions and decisions in Pacer to find the arguments that supported the most winning results? While the key to the effectiveness of the tech is getting the information into mine-able form, there are already services and firms making inroads. There are programs for e-discovery using algorithms to identify documents most likely to be relevant to a given discovery request. Ty-Metrix, a legal billing software, has collected massive amounts of billing data and can now mine it for law firm rates and the factors that affect those rates. Then there is Lex Machina, an organization that has spent 10 years trying to build and organize an effective database for intellectual property litigation.

There are other examples as well in the LTN article. And the article and its examples herald for me an era in law practice that I have been eagerly anticipating – that moment when we can dip into all the available information on a given subject, tap the data and return predictive answers back using an interface like Wolfram Alpha. I don’t believe that this ability means the death of human judgment. Quite the opposite – armed with better data, more complete information, our judgment will be sharpened and improved. I welcome our Big Data Driven overlords and their semantic minions. It will be interesting to see what the next few years brings, especially if efforts to demolish the PACER pay wall come to fruition.