Yesterday, West updated the Black's Law Dictionary app for the iPhone. The previous version of the app was originally released in early 2009 and was based on the 8th edition of Black's Law Dictionary released in 2004. However, a ninth edition of the book version of Black Law Dictionary was released in June of 2009, and yesterday's update to the iPhone app now includes the content from the 9th edition, such as an additional 2,000 terms for a total of over 45,000 terms. [UPDATE 5/9/14: Today, West released the tenth edition of the book version of Black's Law Dictionary, so I suppose at some point we will see a new version of the iOS app.]
In addition to the new content, the update to the app includes some new features, many of which appear in the toolbar. For example, in the following screen shots, on the left is a definition of the term "redhibition" as it appeared in the prior version of the app, and on the right is the same term as it appears in the current version of the app:
You can see that the new version features a black bar at the bottom of the screen. The two arrows on the bottom left allow you to browse forward and backward through the pages that you have seen in the app. In other words, they work much like the arrows on a web browser. The icon with the two letters allows you to increase the font size, making it easier to read the text of the definitions. And the new icon on the bottom right allows you to add a bookmark, making it even easier to return to terms that you have looked up in the past. Here is the definition of redhibition with the font size increased and a bookmarks page:
Another new feature is the Word of the Day. Every day the app suggests a new term. For those who like to increase their vocabulary by learning a new word every day, I can see this being useful or fun. The Word of the Day feature also shows you prior words of the day.
There are other updates to the app as well, such as even more terms with audio pronunciations (the speaker icon at the top right of the screen), a new pronunciation guide to help you pronounce words that don't have audio, etc. The app is also $5 more expensive, with the price raised to $54.99 – a lot of money for an iPhone app, but less expensive than the print edition which has a list price of $80 and sells on Amazon for $64.94. Considering how difficult it is to stick the print edition in your shirt pocket, I much prefer the iPhone app.
The new version of this app is a free update for prior users of the app. Full disclosure: West sent me a free copy of the app last year to review for this website, so I got the free update without having to pay for the original app. But even though this may be one of the most expensive apps that a lawyer buys for an iPhone, this is definitely a useful app. I bought a physical copy of Black's Law Dictionary when I was in law school in the early 1990s, thinking at the time that I would use the book throughout my career. That book gathers dust on a shelf, but I use this iPhone app a few times a month, and it is often quite useful when I do so.