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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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.

 

An RSS Feed for Legal Apps

 

Back in the day, specialized applications for law were few. Not so much anymore. If you want to stay on top of the latest and greatest applications to support your legal practice, check out Mobile Apps for Law’s site and RSS feed. The site promises legal research and utility apps for all devices. In addition to the RSS feed, which delivers new inclusions straight to your RSS reader of choice, the site itself is searchable. Using boolean search, keywords and fields, you can find by application subject and/or device, and limit to recently updated apps. You will need to subscribe to the to see full search results, though.

Or, you can use the new RSS feed. The free feed provides information on the latest mobile apps releases for legal research and utilities. The feed gives information on each app that is newly added to the database, which apparently includes over 900 mobile apps. Click the app title and view the full information on the app maintained in the database. Not a bad way to stay up to date on the latest legal-mobile tech.

Brand Yourself with BrandYourself

Why bother to build an online presence if you can’t monitor and control it? Emphasize the positives and de-emphasize the negatives with BrandYourself, a startup that helps you control Google results for your name through good, old-fashioned SEO. SEO, or “search engine optimization” still works in this modern-day and age of social, so it is worth devoting at least a percentage of your attention to it.

 

BrandYourself leverages  the familiar dashboard / profile set up, easy to activate with step-by-step directions. When I say step-by-step, I mean it. They walk you through the process of setting up your profile and boosting your content, educating you on the why along the way. I even learned a few things setting my profile up.

 

There are free and paid options. BrandYourself users employing the free option can optimize up to three links they want to push up in search results for their names. Your profile page will assist you in linking out and into that profile, which increases  Google page ranks. From your profile on BrandYourself, you can  link out to other online profiles, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, or your own sites and blogs. And it will help you promote them, with guidance on how to improve SEO for each site. Paid options give you unlimited sites to link to and optimize.

 

Another interesting feature of BrandYourself is the ability to track who is looking at your profiles and links – the feature is brand new as of thisTuesday. The feature shows you where visitors to your BY profile are located and where they work, based on their IP address. This is done by matching the IP addresses from the visitors to BrandYourself’s own database of publicly available IP addresses. Is this useful? Well, it really only tracks the biggest players – the publicly available IP addresses of smaller players probably aren’t listed in the database. But it certainly will motivate you to keep your BY profile spiffy. And that isn’t a bad thing when you are trying to control your online SEO.

 

 

So, why would you go paid versus free? Here is the comparison chart from their site:

 

 

And here is their pricing:

 

 

You can find my BrandYourself profile here. Since it is free for the basic service and three links, why not give it a try?

 

 

Total Attorneys Has It's Own App Store

 

Total Attorneys is a web-based (read: cloud-based) law practice management program. Essentially, TA provides the means for clients to retain your services, make payments, upload documents and complete forms online, while you and your colleagues can access complete case files at any time from any location with a secure Internet connection. Manage your practice, track time, send bills, manage documents and communicate with clients, all from a centralized Web location. They even offer virtual receptionist services from their Chicago location. Sounds pretty cool, right?

 

It gets cooler. TA has now implemented an App store for its platform, called Total Apps, unveiling the wonder at the ABA Tech show going on in Chicago as we speak. The first apps out of the box include:

 

• Fastcase, for legal research

• Capital Payments, for payment processing

• LegalEase, for attorney and paralegal contract support services

• Legal Web Experts, for website creation and marketing

• Virtual Receptionist, for fielding calls

• LawQA, to showcase expertise

• Google Sync, to keep Contacts, Calendars and Tasks in line

• IfByPhone, to reach out to leads that have contacted you

• LegalLeads, TA’s own lead generation service

 

Plus, TA has an iPhone and iPad app to enable access to the platform while on the go. The timetracking feature on the mobile apps is ultra simple to use, making it quite easy to accurately keep time. Plus you can easily access the various tasks within the platform and, I presume in the near future, the apps via the mobile interface as well.

 

 

TA is making its API available to developers in the hopes that third parties will pick up and run with the store and integrate more functionality into the platform. I think this is a forward-thinking means of managing legal practice in a way  our rapidly mobilized society can understand – with app-based, tool-oriented deployable solutions. Nice work, guys.

 

 

 

Windows Live SkyDrive Offers 25GB On Your iPhone

Want to expand your virtual real estate on your mobile phone? If you haven’t already gotten your free Windows Live account, now is the time to do it. Sneaking under my radar during the holiday crazies was this announcement from the fine folks at Windows Live – you can now access SkyDrive’s 25GB of storage via apps on your iPhone or Windows Phone. Pretty darn cool. Dropbox is nice, but it can’t hold a candle to the size of SkyDrive.

Of course, Microsoft has baked SkyDrive fairly deeply into Windows Phone 7.5. With the Windows Phone app, you can store documents, notes, photos, videos and access them from your phone. Share photos stored on SkyDrive by email, text, or IM, use Office apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint with SkyDrive files, and keep your phone’s camera roll up-to-date on SkyDrive automatically. SkyDrive is integrated directly into the apps as well as core phone functions. Of particular use on mobile, you can browse your entire SkyDrive. share files and manage your storage.

The “extra extra” though is an iPhone app! In addition to their OneNote notebooks, iPhone users can access their files in SkyDrive, create folders, delete files, and share links to folders and files directly using the Mail app. Much of the functionality is the same between the Windows Phone and iPhone apps – tailored to the particular phone’s user experience. This is very very cool indeed – kudos to Microsoft for not leaving us iPhone users hanging!

Read more about these apps and SkyDrive and check out some vids over at the Windows Live site. And get an extra 25GB of useful storage on your mobile device. Thanks Microsoft.

 

Syncing with Simplenote

One of the benefits of online research is the ability to organize results in ways that vastly improve upon the old fashioned version of collecting scraps of paper, writing notes in the margins of books and using sticky pads. Most people have at least heard of Evernote, the universal notetaking application, and many have heard of the equally cool Springpad. These apps are undoubtedly very useful, but sometimes I don’t need all the bells and whistles they offer. Sometimes, I prefer using an app called Simplenote for my basic notetaking and information-bit-saving — it offers a simple text editor for notes accessible on the web at Simplenote or via mobile app. You can tag notes and search them by keyword. It is my go-to application for basic, text-based notetaking.

You can turn Simplenote into a web clipping and saving service with the use of a couple of Chrome extensions.  Syncpad for Simplenote allows you to create notes while browsing the web, and append URLs to the note. Syncpad Webnotes (Beta) allows you to create a visual “sticky note” on a desired web page that persistently appears when you revisit the page. Using both extensions, you can write a standard note related to a certain web page and attach a sticky note on the page at the place where your target information is located, with a bit more explanation about why you saved the site in the first place while on your desktop. And then you can access the note on your Android or iOS mobile device when you are out and about.

Kind of brilliant and simple – a set of tools for saving content without the complexity that comes with Evernote’s notebook system. I am not the only one who loves Simplenote – check out the other great add ons, downloads and tools created by developers who also love the bare-bones service. Start clipping and saving virtually with Simplenote!

HomePipe Hooks You Up, Sans Cloud Storage

Still not sure about moving all your key documents to the cloud, but still needing to be able to access them from anywhere? Want to collaborate but need to maintain a decent security level?

Enter HomePipe. This very cool, free-for-entry-level application allows instant remote access and file sharing from your main storage computer via any Web browser and pretty much any mobile device. Looking much like a cross between Pogoplug (but no hardware) and Dropbox (but no online storage requirement), HomePipe allows secure access between your Mac, Windows or Linux desktop and your iOS-powered, Android-powered or Windows Phone 7-powered device (apparently a Blackberry app is coming). It feels like Dropbox from the end-user perspective, but it is anything but. The files are still stored on your home or company computer and you can access and share from any other computer or mobile device. The resulting connection acts much like a Virtual Private Network, with the ability to cross firewalls. You can edit documents in-app, but be careful – there are no automatic backups or version control. Audio streaming is also supported, in the event you use HomePipe to make your audio video library available on the go.

Why HomePipe? There are no file size restrictions and you can purchase unlimited connections. Keep your data in-house while you access and share documents, presentations, photos and media. No need to spend money on storage or spend multiple hours uploading, organizing or syncing in the cloud.

HomePipe is free with a 10 use per month limit.  The next tier costs $23 per year with unlimited remote uses and no advertising. The mobile applications are all free. HomePipe is looking to woo enterprise users, with new added security features – you can specify access to shared files, require that users access via secure login and enjoy authenticated and encrypted content access via TLS/SSL.

Nice to see intermediate sharing options for the cloud-phobic.

Business Learning on Your iPhone

Taking classroom courses and learning to you, this great article by Mashable lists a number of different iPhone apps offering mobile eLearning options. App prices range from free to moderately paid, while some are tied to a web site or online library.  The list includes a free iPhone version of an application called Curatr, which I have previously reviewed here in the Studio. Another very cool add is the reference to iTunes U – offering programs from top colleges and universities around the world, including Ohio State University’s Lunch and Learn Series on Wellness, Yale University’s course on Financial Markets, or Stanford’s Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders series, via iTunes.

What are you waiting for? Get to class!

REALLY Supercharge your Twitter, With Smartr

Took a week off to attend to business trips and meetings and other matters, but now I am back! I have been wanting to jot down some thoughts about Twitter and my new strategy for bringing it under control. A large piece of that strategy is a phenomenal app for iOS called Smartr.

Anyone who has read my ramblings in the Studio for any length of time might have a sense of my “love” / “hate” relationship with Twitter. It is a fantastic broadcasting and publishing tool, it is a decent tool for communication (although not my favorite), but I have struggled mightily with it as an efficient information source. The tech experts respond “Make Lists!”, to which I retort, there is still a lot of drivel-ous material to be found in those lists.  The time it takes to find the links of value and follow them to get the content is better spent in my weighted RSS readers, Feedly and my6sense.

With Smartr, however, I have seen the light. Smartr finds and shows the links, the whole links and nothing but the links. You can quickly peruse the list of links and, if you see something you like, click on it to get a full text version in a very readable format.

Download the free app to your iPhone or iPad and enter your Twitter account information. The app then displays only messages that contain links to webpages. Even better, the tweets are “formatted” –  they show  the article’s title and a thumbnail, with a short blurb from the article. Gone are tweets without links, with pictures and Foursquare check-ins.
Of course, you can retweet or save for later without opening, but you can also do more when you open a “tweet”. Send links to Instapaper and Read It Later. Pull to refresh and watch as previews load as you move down the list of tweets. Tweet from the app, and switch from the timeline to lists and back again. Create and manage lists directly from the Smartr app.
The full articles are so readable, I can tear right through them. Within the article, retweet, mark as favorite, publish to Tumblr, Posterous, or Facebook.
It is solid as a rock. I have had very few glitches with it. Occasionally, it takes the app a while to load the lists, but I am certain that is somewhat dependent on my connection.
Now, here is my tip: head over to Listorious and find some fantastic Twitter lists to follow. I have beefed up my tech and web list subscriptions, using their top 140 lists. These lists serve very well within Smartr to keep you well-informed on all the top, real-time, breaking news in the areas you are working in. Or, if you have curated your own Twitter follows effectively, your own lists will serve as a fantastic source of information.
For your Twitter conversations, craft  your top peeps list to include the people you enjoy conversing with. If you use these lists within your Twitter client of choice, you can stay on top of your favorite Twitter discussions and for your searches. Then, turn to Smartr to view your information-based lists and see how quickly you can blow through the links and stories, keeping your real-time chops as current as possible.
Many of the reviewers are comparing Smartr to Flipboard, calling it the Flipboard for iPhone. I don’t see it that way. Smartr is all about the tweets with links, whereas Flipboard is all about formatting tweets, links or not, and many other sources in a magazine-like format. Don’t get me wrong – I love Flipboard. But Smartr will pull you through your Twitter timeline even faster than Flipboard can. I think the Smartr look is a far better utilization of the iPhone screen than Flipboard would be.
The only downside right now is that it is iOS only. They need an Android app (and Windows 7 and Blackberry so that they can hit the broad audience). Hopefully, different versions are in the making.
I have a whole new outlook on Twitter and spend a great deal more time there than ever before. Thanks Smartr, for making me Smarter.