Article of the Week

“Smartphone App Review” by David Pearson

An email was sent out to all CCCBA bar members asking for reviews of smartphone applications (iP: iPhone; BB: BlackBerry; WM: Windows Mobile; A: Android; P: Palm). Since we couldn’t entice anyone in our local bar to submit a review, we went outside our bar to solicit reviews.

Yelp (iP, BB). If you have a smartphone, you should download the free Yelp application. The website is well known (infamous perhaps) for allowing users to rate businesses. The phone application is useful for finding businesses close to you. It will allow you to get directions, call the business or visit their website with just a click. Of course, you can use it to find court reporters or a nearby bail bonds, but you probably already have your favorite in mind. The application is especially helpful for finding things while you’re out of town. In Fresno for a deposition? Search “restaurants” and Yelp will find the one closest to you. No longer will you have to rely on opposing counsel who may send you to the local dive to retaliate for all of those objections. Just pull out your phone and let it guide you.

Lori Myers, Paralegal
Melendez & Associates

TripIt [Pro] (iP and BB, free version, $69 for Pro). Great for the travelling lawyer. You book your flight, hotel and car, and then email the confirmation to TripIt. It then goes automatically into an itinerary, where you add details or edit as needed. The data is kept online, it’s downloaded to your iPhone and thus accessible whether or not you have WiFi. There is one issue with the iCal download, where the times might be off for departure or arrival. I have only found one such error and informed them and they’re working on it, apparently. But it’s a great thing to have, particularly if you need to coordinate schedules.

TypePad, LinkedIn and Facebook (all major smartphones). These are all free and for lawyers having an online presence through these sites, smartphone applications are a big help. Lawyers who want to engage in blogging, tweeting or sharing on social networking sites will want these apps.

iDisk (iP), DropBox (iP), SugarSync (iP, BB, WM, and A) and such are handy to access files ‘parked’ on the web. Pricing varies. I particularly like the ease of iDisk and Dropbox, and use them quite a bit. With Dropbox, you do need a WiFi or other internet connection to be able to access the files. Once you have accessed them, however, they do reside on your iPhone. For instance, I was just in San Juan and had accessed a pdf, which I had ‘parked’ in my Dropbox. When my iPhone no longer had a connection, I could still access and read it — but I couldn’t do likewise with a file I had not already accessed.

AppBoxPro (iP, 99¢). A great application. It is a collection of about 20 apps rolled into one, of varying utility. You can check your battery life, calculate loan amortization, convert units, translate languages, calculate tips, and use its flashlight application, etc. This isn’t free, but at 99¢, is well worth it.

Victoria L. Herring, Esq.

Pandora (all major smartphones, free). Want to listen to music but don’t have a radio handy (or can’t stand all the commercials)? Pandora uses the Music Genome Project. Taken together, these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song — everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It’s not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records — it’s about what each individual song sounds like. Using Pandora, you can enter songs that you like, and it will create a radio station with similar music.

Urbanspoon (iP or web accessible, free). You have probably seen this app in Apple’s various commercials for the iPhone. It looks like a slot machine except that you can lock any of the three wheels. Simply shake your phone and it will spin the wheels and come up with a location, type of food and price range. Great for trying out new restaurants. Even better, when you use an iPhone, if you select the restaurant’s address, it opens up the Maps application and shows you exactly where the restaurant can be found.

DIY Democracy (iP, free). This one is hard to explain. It calls itself the ultimate civic engagement application. The app connects you to local, state and Federal government offices (California local and state only at this time) and allows the user to report everything from a pothole that they want fixed, report police misconduct, write to incorporate a city, recall a state elected official to filing a protest of Federal taxes. Everything a budding armchair curmudgeon could ever want.

David Pearson
Law Offices of David S. Pearson 


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