Technology Corner: Dave’s Top 10 List of Mobile Apps
This issue of Technology Corner is “Dave’s Top 10 list” of mobile apps and other useful features for the iPhone and iPad. It is not intended to be exhaustive, and others may have other favorite apps. It is also not exclusive to law practice management. If anyone thinks of any app that should be on this list, please send your recommendations to the Editor.
10. DissoMaster. This is the most expensive product on this list at almost $50 a year. I find it useful to run support hypotheticals with clients at court (and not need to use the court’s computer or my laptop). It is particularly helpful to illustrate strategic approaches (such as the impact of new mate income on a support calculation). My caveat with the online version is that there tends to be a deviation between the app calculation compared to the full Windows version.
9. Attorney’s Briefcase. It is great having Attorney’s Brief case on my phone and tablet. I like having the Family Law Week in Brief on my tablet and it appears to be current. It has great content, however the app is still at version 1 which was last updated in 2014. There are some bugs and conflicts with IOS 10.1.1.
8. MileBug. This is a great simple app. to track business miles. There are a variety of similar products (not all of which I tried). MileBug has great reporting features and it allows me to send a user defined report (for example year-end business miles) to a CPA.
7. Arlo. This is just cool. It is an inexpensive video-monitoring system you can set up at home that sends live video feed to your mobile device. I initially bought this product when my kid said he heard footsteps outside his window. The app allows for several family members to have real time video feed from a single to multiple cameras. If a camera detects motion is sends a ten-second video clip to the mobile app.
6. Frequent Locations. This is not an app. On your phone, go to Privacy, then click through to Location Services, then scroll down to the bottom and click System Services. Now, click on Frequent Location, (note that “ON” is the default setting). What do you see? Now, if you actually want some privacy, clear your history and tum it off. Ponder…. What can you do with this information? How about this hypothetical:
Wife (“Wilma”) accuses husband of stalking her in front of her apartment on September 16th, 2016, at 10:15 PM. Husbands (“Harry”) says he was “at home.” The parties are at hearing and the questioning proceeds as follows:
Attorney: So, Harry, that’s a cool looking iPhone. How long have you had it?
Harry: I’ve had it about six months.
Attorney: Do you carry it with you at all times?
Attorney: Please enter your password on the phone. Now click on your settings. Click on your privacy tab. Great now click on your “System Services” tab. Now click on “Frequent Locations.” By the way, please connect your phone to that little wire over there connected to the projector. Awesome, thanks. What city do you live in?
Harry: San Francisco.
Attorney: And you know that Wilma moved to Marin, right?
Attorney: Okay, now looking at the history list, do you see “Marin, California?”
Attorney: Please click on Marin, California, do you see Wilma’s address:
Attorney: Click on it. I see that your phone recorded being at Wilma’s location between the hours of 10:00 PM and 11:30 PM every day from September 1, 2016 until … yesterday?
Anyway, you can see the point. This is the Apple DEFAULT setting. If you wish to actually have some privacy, you must be conscious of your electronic devices and their default settings. Otherwise, by default, our movements are tracked and discoverable. So, the question for you, dear reader, is whether the convenience of GPS “always on” tracking is worth the sacrifice of your privacy? Personally, I think it is.
5. Strava. This is one of my favorite apps, but it has nothing to do with law. It’s a biking app that allows me to track my bike ride-mountain or road including distance, speeds, elevation gain, calories burned, and personal best times. It also allows me compare my time with other Strava uses taking the same rides or ride segments. It has a social media component with other Strava users and allows you to post your ride summaries to social media. It falls into my sense-of-cool category.
4. PDF Expert. There are several options available to allow users to view and make highlights on PDF documents on a mobile device. I used program called PDF Expert. PDF Expert is simple to use. It has intuitive highlighting and comment functions and have even used it to collect signatures at court or settlement conferences.
3. Dropbox. I do not recall the last time I used a flash drive. The business version provides more data than a law firm will likely need. Dropbox is about file sharing. Rather than send emails with attachments or CDs or other tangible medium, Dropbox allows for file and folder sharing. Counsel can create a case folder and share that folder (and ONLY that folder) with a client, expert, or opposing counsel. Alternatively, counsel can send an email link to a single document or folder within a folder so that someone without Dropbox can view the file. One of the features I like about this app is that it is cross platform. I can save a document from my computer and view or modify it on my iPhone or iPad.
2. Scanner Pro. There is almost no need to ever make copies of documents at court. For years, I have used my iPhone as a portable scanner. If I need to copy documents from court for a case – for example, opposing counsel brings her only copy of a document that I can look at now, but she will have to send me the “hard copy,” – I just scan the document with my iPhone and forward it to my office for inclusion into our digital database. I used to use a program called TurboScan. However, I recently spent the $3.99 to try out Scanner Pro, which I prefer. It is easier to use, reducing the number of clicks to scan a multipage document, thus increasing the speed and reducing the transaction time to scan a document. As a bonus, Scanner Pro an be bought as a bundle with PDF Expert (see 4 above). Best $3.99 I’ve spent this year.
And, (drumroll, please):
1. Digits. I just love this program. It is a simple calculator that keeps its own “tape” that I can show to a client or opposing counsel and either send the calculation tape by email or text message attachment. It is easy to use, inexpensive, and I think the best virtual calculator around.