February 2012 - What’s Your APPtitude?
by Dimetria A. Jackson
Do you use apps on your smartphone or iPad? Nowadays, there is an app for almost every aspect of your personal, professional and social life. There are apps to read the New York Times, apps to access Facebook and Twitter, airline apps that allow you to check in for your flight without the need for a physical boarding pass. There are music, sports and entertainment apps as well as apps for shopping, including barcode apps that allow you to scan store merchandise for price comparison.
According to Apple, over 18 billion apps have been downloaded by iPhone, iPad and iPod users since the service was launched in July 2008. Not to be outdone, Google reports that Android users have downloaded over 10 billion apps.
So what’s your app aptitude? Perhaps you have a favorite app or you are an ardent app user, always in search of the next app to download. Or maybe you are still using a flip phone and you’ve only heard about apps in television commercials. Whatever your familiarity with apps, the available options will only increase as more and more people purchase mobile devices.
What is an app? The prominence and rapidly growing popularity of apps is evidenced by the American Dialect Society naming “app” the word of the year for 2010. The Society defines app as the “shortened slang term for a computer or smart phone application.” While this definition is reasonably accurate, “apps” are far more.
An app is a type of software that can run on the Internet, your computer, smartphone or other electronic mobile devices. There are two types of apps: native apps and web-based apps. Native apps may be purchased and downloaded from an online app store and stored on your mobile device. These apps are not interchangeable. For example, an iPhone app will not work on an Android smartphone, but the same app may be developed for either device. Web-based apps are available on a variety of mobile devices. They are formatted for use on mobile devices and accessible via a browser. The average cost of an app is approximately $2.00, although there is an abundance of available free apps.
The OCBA is exploring the development of an app that will include a calendar of events, including MCLE programs, networking receptions, and more. We want to ensure that OCBA information is readily accessible to our members via smartphones and other mobile devices. If you have any suggestions as to what you would like to include in an OCBA app, please email me at email@example.com.
In addition to an OCBA app, there are several apps that may be useful to you in your legal practice. (As a disclaimer, I do not endorse or make any guarantees as to the accuracy or reliability of these apps, nor have I received remuneration in any form; therefore, please don’t call or email me if you are not completely satisfied with their performance). With that being said, apps may save you time while working remotely, in the office, or while in court. There are apps that provide portable access to law libraries and legal research including Law Stack, Fastcase, Lexis Advance and WestLawNext. Looking for an additional resource to help you track billable hours? Then, the iPunchclock may be the answer, allowing you to monitor billable time in 5, 6, 10, 15, 30 or 60-minute intervals.
Apps are also useful tools to organize notes, research and presentations. Some apps are great for use in the courtroom as trial notebooks and/or organization of case presentations (e.g., Circus Ponies Notebook and Trialpad for the iPad). If you would like to accept credit card payments using your mobile device, then a credit card processor may be an excellent solution. With the Penultimate app, your iPad can be transformed into a legal notepad. Using your stylus or fingertip, you can take notes, make diagrams or sketches on the iPad, which can be saved as a PDF or sent as an email. With the Dropbox app, a file sharing system, lawyers may read and notate client files remotely, thereby creating a paperless office. If you need to email a hard copy document and there is no scanner nearby, there are apps (e.g., TurboScan and ScannerPro) that allow you to scan multiple page documents using your smartphone.
Need help tracking settlement negotiations? A Texas lawyer and mediator has created a free app, called Picture It Settled Lite, that charts each offer and the date and time the offer was made, predicts future offers using an algorithm based on prior offers, and predicts the eventual dollar amount of settlement. This year, a more sophisticated version based on settlement outcomes in thousands of cases, in multiple disciplines and jurisdictions, is anticipated.
For law students, there is an app for California bar review preparation, available for use on your mobile device. BarMax, co-founded by two Harvard law school graduates, was created as an alternative to the more expensive bar examination preparation courses. At $999.99, BarMax is one of the most expensive apps on the market, but if you don’t own an iPhone, they will ship you an iPod Touch to run the app.
There are also numerous apps that provide motivational and inspirational quotations and messages. To commemorate Black History Month, I’d like to share a quote from one of my apps by poet, novelist and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, Maya Angelou: “Success is loving life and daring to live it.”
With over one million available apps, there is probably an app to enhance your practice or positively affect your day. And, if you need a break or want to release a bit of stress, you can always download one of 2011’s most popular apps, Angry Birds (a game using a slingshot to launch birds at pigs stationed on or within various structures). Please note: no animals were actually harmed during the development, download or use of the aforementioned app.
Dimetria A. Jackson is 2012 President of the Orange County Bar Association, a freelance attorney with Montage Legal Group, handling corporate transactional matters, and the Chief Executive Officer of redBAMBINA.com. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.