Pursuant to 16 CFR Part 255, the Federal Trade Commission's Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, please note: (1) iPhone software and hardware developers routinely send me free versions of their products to review. I sometimes keep and continue to use these products that I did not pay for after posting my review, which might be considered a form of compensation for my review, but I do not believe that I let that color my review. (2) When I post links to product pages on Amazon or on the iTunes App Store, my links include a referral code so that when products are purchased after clicking on the link, I often receive a very small percentage of the sale. This helps to defray some of the cost of running this site, and gives me a small vested interest in having readers of iPhone J.D. purchase products using these links. Again I do not believe that I let that color my review of products. (3) Some of the ads that run on this website are selected by others such as Amazon, Google and Law.com. If one of these ads comes from the seller of a product reviewed on iPhone J.D., that is a coincidence and I do not believe that it colors my review of that product. Other ads are from paid advertisers, and if I discuss a product from a company that is an advertiser, I will note that. (4) Some of the ads that run on this website are from monthly sponsors of iPhone J.D. When I discuss products from these companies on iPhone J.D., I do so to pass along information provided to me by the sponsor. Often, I will also provide my own commentary on the product, and while my goal is to be honest, please keep in mind that I was compensated to promote the product. If you have any questions about this, just send me an e-mail or post a comment on a specific product review.
It won't surprise you when I say that this has been a pretty slow week for iPhone and iPad news, although I'm sure that there were a huge number of folks who founds new Apple devices under their Christmas tree this week. Here are the articles that I ran across that I thought might be of interest to you.
Apple has a tradition of running some pretty great Christmas commercials, and the one that they are running this year is, in my opinion, one of the all-time best, in large part because of the twist at the end. The commercial is called Misunderstood. If you haven't seen it yet, I'm embedding the video below (or click here) so that you can watch it before I ruin the ending for you.
This 90-second spot, which was reportedly filmed in Edmonton, Canada, does a great job of showing off what even a misunderstood teenager can do with Apple technology. Indeed, Apple even posted the video that the teenager would have created, titled "A Harris family holiday." That video was shot using an iPhone 5s and takes advanage of some 5s-only technology such as slow motion video.
Want to see some other great Apple videos from the ghosts of Christmas past? Here are the ones from the last few years that feature the iPhone and iPad:
I think that my all-time favorite Apple Christmas ads were from 2007 and 2008, part of the Get a Mac campaign featuring John Hodgman and Justin Long. They were an homage to the great Rankin/Bass Christmas shows that I used to love when I was a child and that my own kids still love to watch today. Here is the first one (or click here):
The two follow-up commercials in 2008 were also cute. Here they are (or click here):
I hope that you and your family enjoy this most wonderful time of the year.
For all of you who were waiting until the very last minute to vote for iPhone J.D. in the ABA Journal Blawg 100, that moment has come. The polls close at the end of the business day today, and I would appreciate your support. Voting is quick and easy; just click here to start. iPhone J.D. is in the Legal Tech category. And now, the news of note from this past week:
I often leave an email marked unread so that I remember to deal with it at a later time. This is sometimes a risky practice because there are a number of ways to access an email by accident such that it becomes marked read, but I admit that I frequently take the risk and do it anyway. After doing so, I sometimes want to see a list of just the emails that are marked unread. Fortunately, there are two easy ways to do that on the iPhone and iPad in the Mail app in iOS 7. Here are the instructions for using both methods.
The built-in Unread mailbox
One approach is to use the iPhone's built-in Unread mail folder, a new feature in iOS 7. To access it, tap the word Mailboxes at the top left of any screen showing a list of emails.
This will bring you to a list of your mailboxes, starting with the iPhone's built-in mailboxes, and then followed by any mailboxes that you have created using Outlook or whatever other program you use on your computer for email. Just tap on Unread to see a list of only unread messages.
If you don't see that Unread mailbox, you can easily add it. Just tap Edit at the top right of the screen and then tap to the left to enable the Unread mailbox. While you are there, you can also choose to display or hide other built-in mailboxes, such as a mailbox with all Flagged messages, a mailbox with all messages that have Attachments, etc.
Note that you may see different options then the ones shown in the above picture depending upon what you use for your email (my law firm uses Microsoft Exchange) and how many email accounts are active on your iPhone (I only have one).
This built-in Unread mailbox is useful, but be aware that it only displays unread emails in your Inbox. If you have created your own mailboxes (folders) to file away emails and some of those contain emails that are marked unread, you won't see them here — so you'll want to use the second method explained below.
The above images show an iPhone screen, but this works almost exactly the same way using the Mail app on an iPad.
Search for unread mail
The second approach is to search for unread mail. When you are looking at a list of emails either in your Inbox or in any other mailbox (folder) of messages, if you touch your screen and slide down, you will see a Search box appear at the top of the screen. Of course, you can use that search bar to search for emails that are from or to a specific person or that contain a certain word, but you can also use the search bar to find unread messages. Simply type "unread" in the box and you will see a list of unread emails.
You can toggle between seeing all unread emails on your iPhone or just unread emails in the current mailbox. To do so, after you search for unread, just put your finger on your screen and slide down again. This will display two more options below the search bar where you can choose to search all mailboxes or just the current mailbox.
The above images show an iPhone screen. You can do the same thing on an iPad, but it is a little eaiser because the search bar is always visible at the top of the list of messages, so you don't have to pull down on the screen to view it. You do, however, need to pull down after you run a search to see the All Mailboxes / Current Mailbox selections, just like on an iPhone.
I purchased my first Apple product shortly before my Sophomore year of college. I had used a Commodore 64 my entire Freshman year to visit BBS's, play games and type my reports for classes (and print them out on a Smith Corona TP1 printer – a letter-quality printer that was essentially an electric typewriter without a keyboard connected to a computer) but after making some money from a Summer job, I purchased a Mac Plus in 1988 with an external 20 MB hard drive. The Mac Plus was the computer that I started law school with, so I have been using Apple products in one form or another ever since I started my legal career. I mention all of this because John Gruber of Daring Fireball linked to a fun story by software developer Jeff Keacher about how he had his mother send him his old Mac Plus, and through a LOT of work and persistence, he was able to get a (very slow) web browser working on it. Very cool. I think my old Mac Plus is still sitting in a closet a my parent's house. I can't even imagine how many orders of magnitude more advanced my iPhone and iPad are compared to that Mac Plus, but after reading Keacher's article, now I'm curious to see if my old computer will still boot up. That external hard drive probably still has my old 1L Contracts outline on it, not that I've had much need for that recently. And now, the news of note from the past week:
There are lots of great iPad apps that let you work with PDF documents, but if you need to work with two documents at the same time, your options are more limited. There are some great apps like iAnnotate that include tabs so you can quickly tap at the top of the screen to switch between documents, but you are still not looking at two documents at the same time. Easy Annotate is a PDF viewer and editor app that has one unique feature: you can view two documents at the same time, side-by-side. The developer sent me a free review copy of this $2.99 app, and I've been trying it out for the last few weeks. (The app is currently $2.99, but the developer says that this is just an introductory price and that the app will eventualy sell for $5.99.)
The easiest way to get a document into Easy Annotate is to use the standard iOS "Open in..." command. So if a PDF file is attached to an email, just open it in Easy Annotate and it will appear on the left side of the screen. Or from within the app itself, tap the folder icon — there is one on each side of the screen — to open a document from Dropbox or to open a recent document.
Once you have two documents open, you can read them both at the same time. Simply swipe left and right to move through pages, or you can use the page thumbnails at the bottom to quickly move through pages or jump to a specific page.
There are a series of icons, duplicated on both sides of the screen, that let you perform actions unique to the document on that side of the screen such as open a document (e.g. open from your Dropbox), search for text, export the document, undo and redo.
At the top middle of the screen are two icons which apply to both documents. The icon on the left lets you select annotation tools: highlight, underline, strike-through, note, pencil and add text. It is an interesting that you see different buttons for each possible color, so unlike other apps where you first select a pen and then choose the color, in this app you click directly on the blue or the red pen icon.
The second icon at the top middle is a gear icon. From here you can connect the app to your Dropbox account, view the User Guide, switch to a night mode that reverses the colors, choose whether you want to look at one or two documents at a time (more on that below) and swap the documents so that the one on the left appears on the right and vice versa.
Although the marquee feature of this app is the ability to view two documents at once, that isn't always easy. On my iPad Air, 12 point text in a document is rather small and hard to read when the document it shrunk to fit only half of a screen. It is still legible, thanks the iPad's Retina display, but it isn't ideal. You can pinch to zoom, but because only half of your screen is devoted to that document, you end up seeing only part of a line and you need to scroll back and forth to read the entire line.
But if you want to get a better view of a specific document, Easy Annotate provides a quick and easy solution. Simply turn your iPad to portrait mode and the document on the left will fill the screen. This makes it easy to read the document on the left, turn my iPad when I need to see both documents again, and then turn my iPad back to see a larger version of the document on the left. Or better yet, if you tap twice on the screen using three fingers, you swap the left and right documents, so using that gesture in portrait mode will instantly show you the other document. The gesture is a fast way to swap between the two documents.
Read the Users Guide to learn other useful gestures, such as tapping with two fingers on the right side of the screen to jump forward 10 pages or on the left side of the screen to jump back 10 pages.
If you want to see just one document when you are in landscape mode, then as noted above, one of the gear icon choices is to switch to a single document mode. When you do that, you see one page on the left and the next page on the right, or you can pinch to zoom so that one page of the document fills the entire screen. Even in this mode, you still have two documents open at a time, and tapping a button at the top right lets you quickly switch back and forth between the two documents.
Over the last few weeks, there have not been many occasions when I needed to view or edit two documents at the same time, but when there is a need, the app works well. You can look at a Complaint on the left side of the screen and an Answer on the right side of the screen. You can look at a brief on one side of the screen and an exhibit (such as a contract being discussed in a brief) on the right side of the screen.
While the app has worked well on my iPad Air, I don't like using it on my first generation iPad mini. The screen is just too small to read a document with 12 point text when it only fills half of the screen, and because my iPad mini does not have a Retina display, the text is too hard to read. If you have a second generation iPad mini with a Retina display, and if you have better eyesight than me, then perhaps you'll still find this app useful on an iPad mini. For my tastes, I will only use the app on the larger screen of my iPad Air.
Easy Annotate doesn't include all of the features found in sophisticated PDF apps such as iAnnotate, PDFpen or PDF Expert, but it includes the basic features that you are most likely to want to use when reading a document and making simple annotations. And when it comes to the one feature unique to Easy Annotate — working with two documents at the same time — this app handles the task extremely well. The developers of this app had some clever ideas and did a very nice job implementing them. If you ever find the need to work with and view two documents at the same time, Easy Annotate is a fantastic app.
The International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) is a peer networking organization for people who work in the legal technology field, such as the people who work in law firm IT departments. I know that the folks in my law firm's tech department frequently take advantage of ILTA resources when seeking advice on selecting and working with hardware and software designed for the legal market and when recruiting new hires. A few months ago, I reported on the ILTA 2013 Annual Technology Purchasing Survey, and while that survey about what law firms buy was interesting, there is a limit to how much it tells you about the iPad and iPhone because so many attorneys purchase those devices themselves.
ILTA recently released the results of ILTA's 2013 Technology Survey, which is based on the input of 494 law firms composed of more than 88,000 attorneys. This comprehensive survey reveals a lot about the technology being used by lawyers. Obviously, I was most interested in the part of the survey that discusses mobile devices.
The survey revealed that 89% of law firms have attorneys using iPads, 39% of law firms have attorneys using an Android tablet, 29% have attorneys using a Windows-based tablet, 9% have attorneys using a BlackBerry Playbook, and 8% report that none of their attorneys use a tablet. Even though 8% is not a large number, it is higher than I would have expected. As for the 89% of law firms that report iPad use at their law firms, that is an increase from previous years: 88% in 2012, and 74% in 2011.
When asked to estimate the percentage of attorneys that use tablets such as iPads, the average response was 37%. These results are somewhat smaller than the numbers in the 2013 Legal Technology Survey conducted by the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center, a survey that asks questions directly to attorneys as opposed to the ILTA survey that asks questions to IT departments. As I noted a few months ago, the ABA survey revealed that almost half of all attorneys now use a tablet, and over 90% of those using a tablet use an iPad.
The ILTA survey did not ask which percentage of attorneys use an iPhone. Instead, the survey asked about platforms in use at law firms, such as the number of law firms that have attorneys using iOS, which includes both iPhones and iPads. The survey revealed that basically all law firms, 97%, have attorneys using iOS, whereas 74% of law firms have attorneys using an Android devices, 68% have attorneys using BlackBerry devices, and 35% have attorneys using some version of Windows Mobile or the newer Surface operating system.
About 80% of law firms report that they provide some sort of financial support for smartphones, which includes about 50% that purchase the hardware plus about 30% that provide a stipend or allowance towards the purchase of a smartphone. 44% of law firms reported that they have attorneys who bought their own smartphones and connected them to the firm's network.
About 80% of law firms report that they force their attorneys to use a passcode on the lock screen. One way to do this is to use Mobile Device Management (MDM) software, and 60% of law firms report that they do use MDM, with popular choices including Good Technology, MobilIron, BlackBerry Mobile Fusion and Airwatch.
The ILTA survey asked law firms to indicate "to the best of your knowledge, which non-native tablet/iPad apps are most used at your firm for business purposes." I doubt that IT departments know all of the apps being used by their attorneys, but I'm sure that most do have some sense of the popular apps. The top 30 apps, identified by at least 5% of the law firms, were:
For some reason, the survey specifically asked about time management apps. It's been a very long time since I took a comprehensive look at this category of apps because most attorneys tell me that they don't use them. Neither do I, but I've often thought that they might be helpful when traveling. Consistent with this, the ILTA survey reveals that 80% of law firms do not report any lawyers using time management apps. For those who do use these apps, the most popular ones mentioned are iTimeKeep by Bellefield Systems, and the DTE and Time Builder apps, both of which are now sold by Intapp.
Sorry for the late In the news post this week, but I was working out of town for the last few days. Indeed, it was the first time that I've been on a plane since the new rules on using electronic devices took effect, and it was quite liberating (and productive) to be able to start reading some documents after I took my seat and then continuing reading after the cabin door closed and as the plane rose to 10,000 feet. That extra productivity meant that when I finished my work about two-thirds through my flight, I had time to finish watching an episode of Breaking Bad on my iPad, which I could continue to watch until my plane got to the gate last night. I really like being able to use an iPhone or iPad the entire time that I am on a plane. And now, the latest news of note:
Lawyers often write me to share stories of how they use their iPhone or iPad in their law practice. Those emails frequently result in an item in my Friday In the news posts, and occasionally those emails turn into guest posts that I call Lawyer iPhone Stories. Hearing about how other attorneys use their iPhones and iPads always gives me new ideas for making better use of thoe devices in my own practice.
I recently heard from Joe Suhre, a former police officer who is now a criminal defense attorney in Ohio and Kentucky. (His firm also has an office in Chicago.) Joe told me about the four apps that he uses the most on his iPhone, and he turned his recommendations into a guest post. Take it away, Joe!
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It used to be that a law office was a suite in an office building. It had big windows, offices in the back, a receptionist out front, and a conference room in the middle — end of story. iPhones and iPads are beginning to play an integral role in my law practice as cloud computing has become increasingly popular. Here's what's changing — your law office could also be your car, your client’s home, a hospital room, the courtroom, or the cafe where you stopped for lunch.
Having a mobile office allows better service and a more convenient experience for the attorney. There are several apps available to help you manage your information in this new environment. However, with thousands of legal apps available, which are the best for your practice? I can't answer that for you, but here are a few apps we use successfully in my firm. They are certainly worth checking out.
Clio by Themis Solutions Inc.: The Clio app is an entire practice management system all in one place. Need a fast, easy place to organize your calendar? Done. What about a list of all your contacts? No problem. How about storing boat loads of files all neatly organized in one place? That’s right here, too. It also has all of your task lists, and has convenient billing features, which is key for us. If you haven't started using Clio at your firm, it's time to get with the game.
[Note from Jeff: Clio is a current sponsor of iPhone J.D., and I appreciate their support!]
Dropbox by Dropbox, Inc.: It has never been easier to use and share documents. With Dropbox, we're able to upload a file and access it on computers, phones and tablets. Document sharing is faster and more eco-friendly now than it's ever been at Suhre Law. This software is also great for sharing those files that are too large or cumbersome to send as an email attachment.
Genius Scan by The Grizzly Labs: Genius Scan allows us to take a picture of the document using an iPhone, and quickly convert it to a PDF so that it can quickly be added to a client's file. You can group pages to make multi-page PDFs, give them tags to organize them, or quickly share them to your computer, or with colleagues through email.
Dictate + Connect by Jotomi: Obviously, talking is faster than typing. The Dictate + Connect app allows us to quickly hash out a rough draft for a client or the opposing counsel, or dictate a brief or a motion. The dictation is electronically shared with someone who can then type and edit the dictation. A good reason to use Dicatate + Connect is its portability. You can dictate a file memo or client correspondence in between court appearances. The app lets you record the information quickly while it's still fresh in your mind. For example, I may have five or six court appearances in one morning. If I were to go to room 174 and appear for a client, I can dictate a memo about that appearance or correspondence to send to the client while I'm walking to the next courtroom. Then, for example, if I have an appearance in room 280, I could dictate a note, memo, or client letter immediately. Those files can be emailed to our secretary while I'm still in court, and by the time I get back to the office the letters will be ready for my review and signature so they can be mailed out.
My office is no longer defined (confined rather) by four walls and a desk. With the use of these and other apps, I carry my firm's business in my pocket and I am able to work surprisingly efficiently from just about anywhere.
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Thanks, Joe, for sharing some of your favorite apps with iPhone J.D. readers!
If you are willing to share your experiences using an iPhone or iPad in your law practice with other iPhone J.D. readers, I'd love to hear from you too. And in case you missed them, here are reports that I previously shared from other attorneys:
The ABA Journal keeps track of over 3,600 law-related blogs in its comprehensive Blawg Directory, and for seven years now has compiled a list of favorites at the end of the year. The 7th Annual ABA Journal Blawg 100 has now been announced, and I was pleased to learn that iPhone J.D. is on the list for the fifth year in a row. All 100 blogs are listed in alphabetical order in a cover story in the December edition of the ABA Journal. Better yet, the blogs are also organized by category, making it easy to discover great blogs that you might not already know about, on this page where you can also vote for your favorites. The polls close in just a few weeks, and voting is quick and easy. Simply provide a name and email address (a requirement there just to deter people from voting more than once), and then select your favorites. I voted for my favorites, and the process took me less than a minute.
You'll find iPhone J.D. listed in the Legal Tech category. If you have enoyed reading iPhone J.D. this year, I would really appreciate it if this site received your vote. Just click the below picture to get started. To all of you who take the time to vote: thanks a lot; y'all are awesome.
My Dad is an architect by day, but he has had a passion for music his entire life, and he wrote the music and lyrics for a number of songs before and after Hurricane Katrina. His band's name is Beau Swank, and the band just released four songs on their new EP entitled Gras Deux. The songs are: The New New Orleans, The Living is Easy, Marigny Mambo and The Lafayette Waltz.
I know I'm biased, but all four of them are great songs. Listen to the previews on iTunes (or Amazon Music, but iTunes has longer previews) and if you like what you hear, treat yourself to a few new songs this week. Click the link below to bring up the songs in iTunes:
If you work at a desk and you are looking for a useful accessory for your iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s — or a gift for someone else who uses one — and if you don't use a case with your iPhone, I'm a big fan of the iPhone 5s Dock made by Apple. Back in 2008, I reviewed the iPhone 3G Dock. In 2010 I reviewed the iPhone 4 Dock and the Apple Universal Dock. In September of 2013, Apple released its first dock with a Lightning connector, the iPhone 5s Dock. I bought it as soon as it came out and I've been using it for about two months. It works great with my iPhone 5s, and note that despite the name, it also works with the iPhone 5 since the two iPhones are the same size.
The dock itself is a simple device. You plug a Lightning cable into the back of it and either connect it to your computer or to a wall outlet. Then you place your iPhone in the dock and it charges (or syncs, if connected to a computer).
The reason that I am such a big fan of this dock (and the prior models) is that it is useful for attorneys and other folks who spend a lot of their time working at a desk. For the past year, I used my iPhone 5 without a dock, and when I was at my desk I would frequently set down the iPhone, then shuffle some papers, and then the next thing you know my iPhone was buried and hidden. Very frustrating.
But with the dock, I always have a central place to place my iPhone so I always know where it is. Better yet, the dock holds the iPhone in a nice upright position so it is easy to glance at the screen to look at alerts for new emails, see the time, etc. In a dock, your iPhone acts sort of like a small, second monitor. Best of all, as long as my iPhone is in the dock, it is charging. As a result, I will often pick up my iPhone and walk out of the office for a meeting, deposition or court and will see that I am starting with a 100% charge, so I can use my iPhone intensely for hours on end without worrying about the battery.
The back of the iPhone 5s Dock has a port for a Lightning cable and a line-out plug that you can use to hook up your iPhone to external speakers.
The bottom of the dock is rubber so that it stays in place on your desk.
I sync my iPhone with the Mac at my home, not with my work computer, so while I use my iPhone 5s Dock right next to my computer in my office, I don't connect it to my computer at all. Instead I just run a Lightning cord to an Apple power supply plugged in to a power strip on my floor. Unless you have a power outlet close to the surface of your desk, a long Lightning cable works well for this, such as the iBoltz XL that I reviewed earlier this year or the similar Lightning to USB Cable (2 m) sold by Apple.
Note that the iPhone 5s Dock is a perfect fit for the iPhone 5 or 5s — which means that it won't work at all if you use a case. Also, it means that whenever you upgrade to a new iPhone — such as whatever model Apple releases in the Fall of 2014 — chances are that this dock won't work with it. For this reason, I have quite a few Apple iPhone docks in my collection — although to be fair, I actually purchased the Universal Dock (the second one below) as an additional dock to connect my iPhone to my TV back in the days before we had an Apple TV to accomplish the same thing wirelessly.
I might not use this new dock for more than a year, but I know that I'll use it every single day, so I'll definitely get $29.00 of value out of it. If you don't use an iPhone case and you want a great spot to place your iPhone while you are working at your desk, I highly recommend the iPhone 5s Dock.
If you want to order a new device from Apple such as an iPhone 5s, an iPad Air or a Retina iPad mini, I recommend that you wait a few days. A week from today — Black Friday — is typically the only day each year that Apple discounts its products in the U.S. The discounts are not that huge, we're not talking 50% off an iPad or anything crazy like that, but you can typically save a few bucks when you order from the online Apple Store or visit one of the retail Apple Stores. The new iPad Air and Retina iPad Mini are so new and in such high demand that Apple may not even discount them, but we'll see. By the way, if you are still trying to decide between a new Retina iPad mini and an iPad Air, and you are wondering how much easier it is to read documents on the larger screen of the iPad Air, I suggest that you look at this post from Rene Ritchie of iMore. He shows a comparison of reading a comic book on the two devices, and that gives you a good sense of how documents look on the different screen sizes. And now, the rest of the news of note from the past week.
There are lots of apps that can work with PDF files on the iPad and iPhone, but PDFpen by Smile Software is one that I frequently recommend because it has a nice set of features and is easy to use. I have reviewed both PDFpen for iPad and PDFpen for iPhone. About two months ago, Smile Software came out with PDFpen Scan+, an app that can scan a document using the iPhone's camera, create a PDF file, and perform OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to recognize the words in the document and thus create a readable PDF file. Readable PDF files are far better than PDF files that simply contain an image of the document because you can search for words in readable PDF files and you can more easily highlight and otherwise annotate the text.
I bought PDFpen Scan+, a $4.99 app, and I have been using it whenever I have a need to scan a document on my iPhone — a need that I don't have very often, but when I do it is nice to have a good app. After using this app from time to time over the past two months, I'm not very impressed with the app as a scanner, but it I love the OCR feature, not only becuase it is usually quite accurate but also because the OCR occurs right on the iPhone itself without sending my document to some third party who I do not know or trust.
You can always take a picture of a document using the iPhone with the built-in Camera app, and there are quite a few apps that go one step farther and let you save the scanned image(s) as a PDF document, making it easier to work with and share the file. For over a year now, my favorite app for scanning a document has been Scanner Pro by Readdle.
PDFpen Scan+ works okay as a scanner, but it is not as good as Scanner Pro for two reasons. First, an iPhone scanner program needs to have a good way to find the four corners of the document to straighten the image since you will rarely be lucky enough to hold your iPhone directly on top of a document 100% parallel to the document itself. PDFpen Scan + automatically tries to find the edges and four corners of a document after it takes a picture, and it does a decent job, but if you want to make adjustments it is difficult to do so. You make adjustments by dragging blue dots to each of the four corners of the document, but because your finger is on top of the dot when you are dragging, your finger makes it difficult to find the exact edges of the document, often resulting in frustrating experience.
Scanner Pro has two solutions for the can't-see-under-your-finger problem. First, when you are holding your iPhone over the document and before you even press the button to take the picture, the app already starts trying to find the edges of the document and shows you what it is doing on screen. Thus, you can tilt your iPhone until the app best sees all edges and corners of the document before you take your picture. Second, if you have to make further adjustments (and it is rare that you need to do so), Scanner Pro displays a circle with a zoomed image of what is under your finger and places the circle far from your finger so that your finger is not covering it up, making it easy to move the blue dot to the exact corner of the document. The following two images show Scanner Plus in action, and I wish that PDFpen Scan+ worked the same way:
My second complaint about PDFpen Scan+ as a scanner is that the quality of the image is not great. On the plus side, it gives you the option of converting your document to pure black-and-white, which typically results in a far better image and can often compensate for your any uneven lighting of your document. But even in black and white mode, the quality of the image resembles something that you might expect from a fax machine. In the following two images, I'm showing a close-up part of the same document, first scanned in PDFpen Scan+ and second scanned in Scanner Pro:
The difference in quality is obvious to the eye, but is confirmed by the file size (although a larger size is not always synonymous with a better image). PDF files created by PDFpen Scan+ are about a third of the size of PDF files created by Scanner Pro.
So overall, PDFpen Scan+ does just an okay job with scanning a document, and I prefer to use Scanner Pro.
OCR'ing a document
What sets PDFpen Scan+ apart from Scanner Pro and most other iPhone document scanners is that PDFpen Scan+ can OCR the text in an image and create a readable PDF file. And unlike some apps like ABBYY FineReader Touch that accomplish this by sending the document off to a service on the Internet and then downloading the document later, PDFpen Scan+ performs the OCR right on the iPhone itself. I like this approach much better because it is faster and it is more secure. If I am scanning a confidential document, I don't want it sent off to some computer owned by a third party to have the text in the document read by a machine that isn't under my control.
The process of creating an OCR version of a document is simple. Just select the document and tap the OCR button. You can actually "see" the app working because yellow lines go down the screen as it scans each line of text — a fun animation that is also useful keeping tabs on the process.
Once the OCR process is complete, you then have two options. First, you can copy the text of the document to the clipboard, useful if you want to paste it into a word processing document or an email. In the first image below, I pasted the text into the iPhone's Notes app, which shows you that the quality of the OCR with a good original is excellent. In this example, the only error in the entire document was on the RE: line of the correspondence; the original said "Doe v. Jones" and PDFpen instead read "|_)oe v" and didn't see the "Jones" part at all. It's not perfect, but I never expect OCR to be perfect even on a computer, let alone on an iPhone.
The second option is to share the readable PDF file. You can email the document, open it in another app on your iPhone, or export it to a cloud storage service such as Dropbox. Every option I would ever want is in there.
The best part of the OCR function of PDFpen Scan+ is that you aren't limited to using it with scans created by the app. I noted above that Scanner Pro creates better scans then PDFpen Scan+, but Scanner Pro doesn't have an OCR function. What I've been doing over the last few months is scan the document with Scanner Pro, then send that PDF file to PDFpen Scan+, and then OCR the file using PDFpen Scan+. The result is the best of both worlds — a higher quality document that is readable thanks to the OCR process.
Moreover, I've had other attorneys send me non-readable PDF documents — PDF files that simply contain an image of the document. I use PDFpen Scan+ to create a readable version of the document so that I can search through the document to find the part of the document that uses a specific word. And if I want to highlight a document, this is far easier to do when you are working with a readable PDF file.
OCR works best with a simple document such as a letter with black text on a white background. If the image quality is poor, or if you have a complicated document such as one with two columns of text, the app misses words or misreads words. In my real world tests, the documents that I have worked with in my law practice have been of good enough quality for PDFpen Scan+ to give me great results, even though accuracy is not always 100%.
Do note that the results are not as good as what you can get on your computer using software that can perform OCR. First, scanning documents on an iPhone or iPad is slower. Second, when PDFpen Scan+ creates a readable PDF file, it vastly increases the file size. I've seen 45 KB PDF files become 500 KB PDF files after this app performs OCR. Third, although the quality of the OCR is quite good, I get better results using software on my computer such as Adobe Acrobat Pro or Nuance PDF Converter. On the other hand, I love the convenience of performing a complicated task like OCR on an iPhone that I can slip in my pocket and that is always with me.
A few more points...
When I am using PDFpen Scan+ to scan a document, I use it on my iPhone, but the app also works on an iPad. It is far easier to take a picture using the easy to hold iPhone, and unless you have an old iPhone and a new iPad you probably have a better camera on your iPhone, so I recommend using this app as a scanner with your iPhone, not your iPad. But if you are working with a document scanned by another app or sent to you as a PDF file and you just want to use this app to do OCR, then PDFpen Scan+ is useful on the iPad.
Also, if you want to see PDFpen Scan+ in action, California attorney David Sparks prepared a video that you can see here on his MacSparky website.
PDFpen Scan+ is a decent scanner, but I cannot recommend it over Readdle's Scanner Pro. But the + in the name of this app refers to the OCR capabilities, and Smile Software gets an A+ for that + feature. If you are looking for a way to take a non-readable PDF file and turn it into a readable PDF file, PDFpen Scan+ is an excellent and useful app. Perhaps one day PDFpen Scan+ will get improved scanner capabilities, or perhaps one day Scanner Pro will gain the ability to OCR a document, and then we will have one app that does everything well. For now, if you do what I do and use PDFpen Scan+ in conjunction with Scanner Pro, you have a powerful combination.
On November 17, 2008, I wrote the first post on iPhone J.D., explaining why I had been using an iPhone for a few months. The subject seemed appropriate for starting a new website, but it was also quite topical at the time. According to a 2008 Am Law Tech Survey, only 5% of law firms reported that they had any lawyers using an iPhone. Instead, most attorneys who used a smartphone at the time used a BlackBerry, Palm Treo or Windows Mobile device. A lot of folks wondered if a device with an all-glass front and without a miniature keyboard could ever appeal to more than a small percentage of attorneys. Many thought it would be a repeat of the Windows-versus-Mac world in which a single digit percentage of lawyers used and loved their Macs but the overwhelming majority used PCs. So when I started a website in 2008 aimed at attorneys who used iPhones, the market seemed about as much of a niche as architects who played the banjo. But it was the niche I was in, and you write about what you know.
Five years later, the world has changed quite a bit. Almost all attorneys now use a smartphone, over half of them use an iPhone, and 100% of AmLaw 200 law firms now have attorneys using iPhones. The tablet market is still in its growing stage — about half of all attorneys now use one — but of that half, over 90% use an iPad. We used to live in a world where you would have to visit graphic design firms or college campuses to see Apple logos everywhere. It astounds me that you can now say the same thing about law firms.
And iPhone J.D. has grown too. Back in 2008, I was tickled whenever I saw that a few dozen folks had visited the site in a day. Over the last five years, the site has had well over 3.5 million page views, and more than a million of those occurred in 2013. The site now includes over 1,000 posts and you have written over 2,000 comments.
Popular posts this year. It's a tradition on iPhone J.D.'s anniversary (1, 2, 3, 4) to identify the most popular posts over the prior 12 months because it reveals something about the topics that iPhone and iPad owners have been thinking about lately. Here they are.
1. The iPhone's Do Not Disturb Feature. I love my iPhone for being such a helpful assistant, but sometimes you don't want to be bothered by that assistant because you are in an important meeting or in court. My post on the iPhone's do not disturb feature was the most popular article I wrote this year. I suspect that was in part because so many of us started to receive Wireless Emergency Alerts this year (my post on those was also a popular post in the past year) and a lot of folks were looking for ways to manage all of the alerts that you can receive on an iPhone.
2. Strategies for reading and editing Microsoft Word files on the iPhone and iPad remains a popular topic. The post I wrote this year on using Polaris Office to do so was very popular, as were older posts on using similar apps such as Documents to Go.
3. Security is always an important topic for attorneys, and my review of 1Password was one of the most popular posts this year. It is rare for a new app to so quickly become a part of my daily life, but 1Password has certainly done so, both on my iPhone/iPad and on my PC at work and my Mac at home. I used to hate managing passwords, and I'll admit that my distaste for doing so led me into some unsafe practices such as using easy-to-remember (and thus easy-to-guess) passwords and using the same password in different places. Now, my passwords are very secure, and managing them is almost fun, something I never would have thought possible.
4. Sometimes I encounter something that annoys me on the iPhone, so I research the topic and then write about it here. I did that earlier this year when I noticed that the AirPlay icon was missing from my iPhone and then I found a bizarre solution, and that was one of the most popular posts this year. I guess I wasn't the only one to have the problem. Now that we have iOS 7, AirPlay works better and is easier to manage thanks to the Control Center that you can quickly access just by swiping up from the bottom. Another example: I must not have been the only one to develop a spot on the lens of my iPhone 5 camera considering how popular that post was this year.
5. About a year ago, Apple replaced the 30-pin connector that had been in use since it debuted on the iPod in 2003 with the new Lightning connector. As a result, a lot of iPhone and iPad users had to purchase new accessories, and my review of Apple's Lightning-to-VGA connector was very popular this year. I give a lot of presentations from my iPad and I far prefer the Lightning-to-VGA connector over the older 30 pin-to-VGA connector because it does a better job of staying in place, it is faster, and I like that you can charge your iPad at the same time that you are using it.
6. I love that the iPhone is so easy to use, but it also has a lot of powerful features if you just know where to look for them. Thus, I try to post tips and tricks for using the iPhone and iPad whenever I come across a good one. I posted a tip earlier this year on keeping track of birthdays of your Contacts, and it was one of the most popular posts this year. My tip on saving a draft of an email was read by almost as many people.
7. I know that a lot of attorneys like to use a stylus with an iPad when highlighting a document or taking notes. There are hundreds of models available, but the Wacom Bamboo Stylus duo is one of the very best. The post I wrote this year on buying replacement nibs was very popular.
8. There are lots of great apps that you can use to read and annotate PDF files on an iPad, but one of the very best is iAnnotate, and my review of iAnnotate was a very popular post. One of the features that I love in that app is that you can send a Word document to iAnnotate and the app saves your annotations in PDF format. That way, you can easily send someone a marked-up version of a document that shows your handwritten edits. I use that feature all the time in my law practice.
The iPhone J.D. Hall of Fame. Those were the most popular posts written this past year, but here are the most popular iPhone J.D. posts of all time:
1. iPhone "No SIM card installed" message. When I first had this problem with my iPhone 4, it didn't seem like many other people were talking about it. However, this post from July of 2010 was viewed well over 100,000 times and is the most-read iPhone J.D. post of all time, so clearly I was not alone. As I noted in a follow up, the only real solution was to have the Apple Store replace my iPhone 4.
2. My favorite iPhone shortcuts. iPhone J.D. was only a week old when I wrote this post in November of 2008, and over the past five years, it has also been read well over 100,000 times. Most of the tips are just as useful today as they were when iPhone J.D. was in its infancy.
3. A look at the iPhone passcode lock feature. This post from September of 2009 continues to be popular, and I hope that means that lots of people — especially attorneys — are using the passcode lock feature on the iPhone. You never know when someone else might pick up your iPhone.
4. The iPhone's do not disturb feature. I mentioned this one above, and it was my only post from 2013 to break into the all-time top 10.
5. iPhone Tip: create an Apple folder. I wrote this tip in June of 2010, and I continue to use an "Apple folder" on my iPads and iPhones.
6. Email improvements in iOS 5. When Apple released iOS 5 in 2001, one of the best parts of the updates for lawyers and others who use email all the time were the improvements to the Mail app such as better notifications, rich text formatting and the ability to dictate an email via Siri.
7. Review: Dragon Dictation. You no longer need to use the Dragon Dictation app unless you use an older iPhone or iPad because dictation is built-in thanks to Siri, but before Siri, the Dragon Dictation app was very popular for lawyers and others, and so was this post.
8. Review: Notes Plus and Review: GoodNotes. These are both excellent apps for taking notes on an iPad using a stylus, and my reviews of those apps are among the all-time most popular reviews on iPhone J.D.
9. Review: Lightning to 30-pin adapters. As noted above, the change to the Lightning adapter was a huge transition for the iPhone and iPad, and these adapters are great for using your new device with your older accessories.
10. Why the "i" in iPhone? I had a lot of fun researching and writing this post back in 2009, so I'm glad to see that so many folks have read it and still do so today. If you were ever curious about the origin of the name of the iPhone, this is the post for you.
Visitors to iPhone J.D. It's an annual tradition to use this opportunity to share a little about what I know about those of you who read this website besides the obvious — you have impeccable taste.
About 33% of iPhone J.D. readers during the past year accessed this site using Windows, about 28% used an iPhone, about 18% used an iPad, about 16% used a Mac, about 3% used Android and about 1% used a BlackBerry.
About two-thirds of iPhone J.D. visitors are in the U.S., but the site also gets a huge number of visitors from the U.K., Canada and Australia, and for the first time ever, five of the top 10 cities were not in the U.S. For the fifth year in a row, there were more visitors from New York than any other city. London moved up from #3 to #2, and for the first time ever, two cities in Australia — Sydney and Melbourne — were in the top 10.
I enjoy taking this opportunity every year to talk about iPhone J.D. readers because without a doubt, my favorite part of publishing iPhone J.D. is that it has given me a reason to meet so many other interesting attorneys. Whether we met a conference or we first corresponded via email when you shared an iPhone tip with me, I have really enjoyed getting to know and hearing from so many of you. The niche of attorneys using an iOS device may be a lot larger than it was five years ago, but I still think of us as a select group of intelligent and friendly folks who enjoy using elegant technology to help us to get our work done. Not a bad group of folks to get to know.
The new iPads were the big news this week. The iPad mini with Retina Display made a surprise appearance on Tuesday, and people continue to talk about the new iPad Air. I hear from many attorneys who are struggling with the decision of which one to get. Both are powerful and light, so you need to decide whether you prefer a bigger screen — great for reading documents — or a smaller and even lighter design that makes it even more portable. I understand the appeal of the new iPad mini, especially if you already carry around a laptop like the MacBook Air that you can use when you want a larger screen. But my laptop never leaves my office desk, so the iPad Air is the best choice for me.
David Sparks is an attorney in Orange County, CA. He is well known for his MacSparky website and the Mac Power Users podcast that he does with Florida attorney Katie Floyd. He has also published many books, including two that I have reviewed on iPhone J.D.: Paperless and iPad at Work. And he is also one of the most talented folks out there when it comes to self-publishing books for the iPad in the iBookstore — titles that stretch the definition of what it means to be a "book" becuase they are full of graphics, videos and audio. Yesterday, Sparks released his latest book called Email, which Sparks says is all about "the best methods, technologies, services, apps, and workflows to make email work for you." Sparks sent me a free review copy of the book yesterday, and I made my way through just about all of it last night. It is a great book that offers wonderful information and tips for anyone who uses email on the Mac, iPhone or iPad.
The book includes general tips for working with emails, great strategies for reading, replying to and storing emails, an informative chapter on how email works and tips on fighting spam and email security. No matter what device you use for your email, all of that content is useful.
Sparks then goes deep into the Apple Mail app for the Mac, and this book will be most useful for folks who use a Mac and the built-in mail app. He also reviews many of the best programs for the Mac and apps for the iPhone/iPad that you can use to work with email, and devotes a chapter to Gmail.
The last part of the book is the part that I have only just started to get through. It is called Email workflows, and starts with a long description of how Sparks handles his own email. The book then has audio interviews with a number of folks (a writer, a doctor, an actor, an IT specialist, an educator, etc.) who use email in many different ways in which they share their strategies and tips. The interviews that I have listened to so far were great, and I look forward to hearing them all over the next week.
As good as the content is, Sparks is famous for making his books full of rich audio and video. Email is no exception. The book is full of colorful graphics, video screencasts, sidebars with additional pop-up information, etc. Although I've now been through the book once, I look forward to going back through it again take advantage of all of the media and extra information that is sprinkled throughout the book.
Although the book will be useful to anyone who uses email because so much of the book is devoted to general principles, you'll get the most out of the book if you use a Mac. The book also has a lot of information on using email on the iPhone and iPad, which I really liked, but the book does not offer any specific advice for using email on a PC. If you are looking for specific tips on using Outlook on your PC at work, you won't find it in this book. (When I searched the book for the word "Windows" the only reference I saw was on page 69 where Sparks notes that a PC running Windows 7 is "sitting sadly in the corner of my office.")
Perhaps best of all, Sparks has a great writing style. He covers complicated topics but explains things in a way that my grandmother would understand. Hopefully I'll never find myself on the opposite side of Sparks in front of a jury; I suspect he gives one heck of a closing argument.
We all use email every day, throughout the day. If you want to become even more productive with your email, you'll enjoy this book.
When Apple first announced the iPad Air and the iPad mini with Retina Display last month, it said that the iPad mini would be available later in the month of November. I assumed that meant that it would be available at the very end of the month, but early this morning, Apple started selling the new iPad mini in the online Apple Store. Supplies are presumably limited right now, and it is unclear when you still be able to start buying one from a physical Apple Store.
My original post on why lawyers would like the new iPad mini is here. I suspect that if the new iPad mini is the right iPad for you, you already know it. But if you are on the fence, I will note that I've had my new iPad Air for over a week now, and in that time I haven't had a desire to use my iPad mini at all. Of course I have a first generation iPad mini, not the new model with a Retina Display, but my lack of desire to use it this past week was not because of the lack of a Retina Display. Over the last year, I have always reached for my iPad mini for the same reason — I wanted something light and easy to carry around. Now that the iPad Air is so light and easy to carry around, I just haven't had a desire to use the iPad mini. To be fair, the iPad Air is my latest new gadget, so perhaps after the newness wears off I'll become more excited about the iPad mini again. But for me, the iPad Air is the best of both worlds.
But that's just me. I know many people who say that the iPad mini is the perfect size and weight for them, and if you are one of those people, now you can get the brand new model. Enjoy!
The last time that I wrote about Cleveland appellate attorney David Mills was in early 2009 when he started the website Courtoons, where he regularly published funny law-related cartoons. He has since stopped updating the website, although I frequently tell Mills that I hope that he starts it up again one day; they were great, and if you haven't read his cartoons, you should check them out now because they are just as funny today. In the meantime, Mills went on to argue and win a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, a case that led to him being profiled in a cover story for the ABA Journal. Most recently, Mills teamed up with his brother and two friends to create a new iPhone app called DestroyMail, which debuted on the App Store today. It's an email client with a humorous twist; instead of deleting an email message, the app lets you DESTROY the email message, and you are provided with funny graphics and sound as you do so.
You probably cannot use this app for your work email if your firm uses Microsoft Exchange, but it works with many online email providers: iCloud, Gmail, Yahoo!, AOL, Outlook.com and IMAP servers. I have a Yahoo Mail account that I have used when making online purchases for about 15 years now, so as you can imagine that account is full of spam — a perfect target for this app. You start by providing DestroyMail with your user account information. (The app needs your username and password to get your email, but the DestoyMail FAQ emphasizes that the developers cannot see your email messages or your account information.) You can then use DestroyMail just like any other email client to read, reply to, forward email, etc.
The fun comes when you are ready to delete a message. When you are viewing a list of email messages, swipe to the left on an individual message, just as you would do in the iPhone's built-in Mail app. But instead of seeing an option to move the item to the trash, you'll see an option to destroy the message. Tap that, and you will see and hear an amusing animation of the email message being destroyed.
If you want to be more efficient, you can swipe to the right, which destroys the email immediately with a shorter animation.
The free app includes only a single weapon, a grenade launcher, but I spent $0.99 for an in-app purchase to get access to others, which adds the ability to use an flamethrower, a bomb, and various other Sci-Fi-worthy weapons of mass destruction. And more (less violent) animations are coming, as noted on the developer's blog.
When you destroy a message, it isn't actually moved to your trash. Instead, a folder called "Destroyed" is created and the messages are moved there. You can always select all of those messages and move them to the trash yourself, but this safety valve let's you show off to someone else that you are destroying their email just to get a laugh while still having the ability to easily locate the message later.
DestroyMail may help you get out your frustration over an email. I can think of quite a few messages I've received of late that I would have loved to have incinerated with a flame thrower instead of just putting them in the trash! But this is primarily just a joke app, and while I'm sure that the joke will get old soon, the app itself is free and even getting all of the additional weapons will only set you back a buck, so I have no problem recommending that you check out the app. It's nice to see that David Mills still has a good sense of humor, and I look forward to seeing whatever he comes out with next.