July 2, 2014 – Many of us rely on our mobile devices to access email and obtain news updates. We use our smartphones and tablets to conduct legal research and more attorneys are now incorporating this technology into their courtroom appearances. As we increase our reliance on these various mobile devices, our interest in new apps also increases.
This article focuses on productivity apps. The list below explores beyond the perennial favorites such as Evernote, Google Drive, Readability, and GoodReader.
Bev Butula is the manager of library of services at Davis & Kuelthau, Milwaukee. She is a past president of the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin. Butula has written articles and spoken to numerous groups on issues such as effective Internet research, evaluation of websites, and legal research. Prior to obtaining her Master’s Degree in Library Science from UWM, Butula was a litigation paralegal.
As you read about these various apps, it is important to note that each app listed has competitors. Before committing to an app, be sure to investigate the alternatives to determine the best choice for you and your practice.
Prezi is for creating presentations. It is cloud-based and is available for Windows, Mac, iPad, and iPhone. A free version is available, however to keep your presentations private, a subscription is required. Prezi does not use slides, instead it encourages the user to “start with an open canvas.” Create a presentation using text, images, audio files, and videos. Prezi uses a unique zoom feature allowing the presenter to emphasize a point or provide a broader overview of the material. Cost: Free to $159 per year.
I have been using Doodle for years. It is a quick and easy way to coordinate everyone’s schedule. Avoid frustration and the long string of emails when trying to identify the best time or date for a meeting. Using Doodle is easy; the organizer creates a polling calendar and attendees can then select which times work best for their personal schedules. The organizer can then review the results to determine the best option for the most participants. Cost: Free on the web. $2.99 for iOS and Android
Did you use Google Reader to aggregate your RSS feeds? Are you still looking for an alternative? Try Feedly. Feedly offers a simple interface and makes it quite easy to add new content. It is available for various platforms including Chrome, FireFox, iOS, and Android. Cost: Free.
IFTTT is an acronym for “if this then that.” The service allows you to seamlessly connect online applications that you use every day. For example, you can create a “recipe” that states if you post something to your professional Facebook page then also post it to your LinkedIn page. Or, if you post something to your blog then also send a Tweet. It is available for iOS, Android, or via your desktop. Cost: Free
Available for iOS, Windows, and Android, Around Me is a great app for when you are out and about. Search for nearby ATMs, restaurants, banks, medical facilities, gas stations, coffee shops, parking structures, and so much more. Cost: Free
This app is a way to manage your “to do” list plus much more. It offers several features including the ability to collaborate with others, adding subtasks, assigning due dates, drafting notes, along with the capability to send yourself reminders. Platforms include iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Kindle, and the web. Cost: Free or $4.99/month depending on functionality.
Do you travel? Save time and energy with Gate Guru. Available for iOS, Android, and Windows, this app goes beyond flight updates, security wait times, and gate changes. A TripAdvisor app, Gate Guru provides amenity information, maps, weather data, and tips specific to the airport. Cost: Free
Currently only available for the iPad or via the web, Popplet is a mind-mapping tool, which helps the user to think visually to generate ideas and help plan projects. However, since it also allows the user to attach images, offers note taking capabilities, and permits sharing/collaboration, it is actually much more. Only your imagination will limit the way you can use it. Cost: $4.99