I'm always eager to learn about the latest iPhone apps for lawyers, but it is just as interesting to learn about the latest apps designed by lawyers. Sometimes those apps are law-related, but that is not always the case, as today's post demonstrates. Mitch Robiner is a partner in the Tampa, Florida office of Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart. Robiner represents companies in commercial litigation, but he also likes to come up with his own business ventures. After reading about the sucess that others have had developing iPhone apps, he bought a book to learn about designing apps. "The business model really appealed to me," Robiner told me, "because the entry costs are relatively low as compared to other business ventures I have considered, and once your app is approved for sale in the App Store, you immediately get access to a global market of 50,000,000 iPhone users. A lot easier than trying to get one of my inventions on the store shelves at one of the retail giants." After a lot of brainstorming, Robiner came up with an idea that could have some mass appeal, searched for and hired a talented animator (Alan Becker) and hired an iPhone programmer to implement his ideas. A few months later, Stick Texting was born.
Most everyone is familiar with the traditional emoticons that you can add to text messages, such as a smiley face. Stick Texting lets you instead send short, funny animations. What is great about the app is that the recipient doesn't need to use any special software. Indeed, it is better if they have never heard of the Stick Texting app because then you can surprise them with a text message containing one of the funny animations.
The app is incredibly easy to use. When you launch the app you see several categories of animations. Choose a category, then tap one of the squares to see what the animation does and at the same time copy the animation into your iPhone's clipboard.
Now just switch to the Messages app on your iPhone. (You can tap the Texting button at the bottom to take you there.) Whenever you are ready to send the animation, simply hold down your finger until the "paste" command appears, paste the animation, and then hit send. The whole process just takes seconds.
The above image is just a static screenshot, but here is what that animation looks like:
In addition to being able to use the animations in a text message, you can also paste them into an e-mail. If the recipient is using an iPhone or iPad, or the Mail program on a Mac, the animation will appear in the message itself and will look great. With some other programs, such as Outlook on a PC, the animation might come across as a .gif attachment that the recipient will have to double-click to open in an external program to see — which takes away some of the fun and surprise.
Robiner also prepared this amusing YouTube video to show off the app's features:
Stick Texting works great. Although I don't text very often, I was happy to spend the one dollar that Robiner is charging for this app just to be able to use it a few times with some of my friends and family. I have no complaints about the app. I do, however, hope that Robiner adds more animations in the future to keep the app fresh.
But even aside from the merits of the app, it is fun to see another lawyer come up with an idea for an app and then see it through to fruition. Hopefully Robiner (pictured at right) will see some success with his new venture. As he told me: "If our YouTube video gains traction, or Apple's App Store editors decide to feature Stick Texting, the app really could take off. If not, I have had fun making it, and I still believe it will generate a decent passive income over time at a minimum. It is a lot better than buying a vending machine and having to deal with inventory and equipment failures."