You have an iPad. You're an attorney and, worse yet, a litigator. Now what? The iPad is nothing new. That sentence is shocking to read, but it is true. The iPad hit stores in April 2010. The iPad 2 is a success, and we are nearing the release of the third-generation iPad. What the iPad has lost in novelty, it has gained in utility. The native iOS 5 software and the App Store contain useful tools and applications to help you, the litigator, get the most out of your iPad or iPhone.
The following are some iPad and iOS features, applications and tips that litigators might find useful:
- VoiceOver. (Settings > General > Accessibility). Eyes tired? Long day staring at documents? Don't feel like reading that 500-word email? In the car at a stoplight and don't have time to read the whole email? Why not listen to it with VoiceOver? If you have an iPad or iPhone, you already have the capability. Simply adjust your Accessibility settings so that VoiceOver is on, point to text and let your iDevice read the contents of your screen to you. For quicker access to the VoiceOver feature, go to the Accessibility settings screen and adjust "Triple-Click Home" to "Toggle VoiceOver". Now VoiceOver can quickly be turned on and off by tapping the Home button (circular button with the square in it on the iPad body) three times in quick succession. Caution: Be sure to familiarize yourself with the touch controls while VoiceOver is on before turning VoiceOver on. The touch controls are slightly different. Here are some quick tips on VoiceOver touch controls:
- Tap once on text to read the text aloud until the next HTML break, such as a paragraph break.
- If you tap an on-screen button once, it will read the button function aloud and then you must double-tap the same button to activate the button.
- You must scroll with three fingers, instead of one.
- To jump to the next text field like Tab does on a keyboard, swipe one finger to the right. To go back, swipe one finger to the left.
- To have VoiceOver read continuously through an email and not stop at each break, swipe two fingers in a downward direction on the screen after selecting the starting paragraph.
- Remember, VoiceOver was designed to assist users with vision problems. If it doesn't make sense to you why VoiceOver is doing something, consider whether it would be helpful if you could not see your screen.
- VPN and RDP. (For initial setup: Settings > General > Network > VPN). (Once settings are saved, toggle on by: (Settings > VPN). This one may require coordination with your IT department. iOS 5 on the iPhone and iPad allows for VPN (virtual private network) access to your office network. This is likely necessary to access information behind the security walls of most law firm computer networks. Plug in your firm's VPN settings and connect to the firm's network via VPN. Once connected, you can use a RDP (remote desktop protocol) app to remotely access your office workstation. One RDP client app that I recommend is iTap. You will need to know certain information about your computer's identifying information and your user name and password.
- Lock Rotation. Did someone email you a file with an incorrect orientation—in landscape when it should have been sent in portrait? Well, if this happens to you, it can be a dizzying and annoying experience trying to tilt your iPhone or iPad just right so you can read the document. The gyroscope and the reorienting feature of the iPad/iPhone is great...until it's not. There is a way to stop the screen from spinning. Go to Settings > General and review the settings under 'Use Side Switch to:'. If 'Mute' is checked, a double-tap of the Home button and a swipe of the App Tray to the right is how you will access your screen orientation lock button (double-tap home button and a swipe of the App Tray to the right is also how you access Lock Rotation on your iOS 5 or later iPhone). If 'Lock Rotation' is selected, the slide switch on the side of your iPad above the volume controls will toggle your lock rotation feature on and off. If your screen continues to spin after locking the rotation, consult a physician.
- Mirroring. Want to project the display of your iPad or iPhone on to a television or other screen for presentations or meetings? Mirroring is a good option. With an iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch running iOS 5 or later on the same WiFi network as an Apple TV (or the proper direct connection cable), a user can create a mirror image of what she sees on her iOS device on the screen connected to the Apple TV. For instance, you can display what you see on your iPad on an LCD television. This might be useful for presenting PDF files, web pages, or even training others on how to use the iPad. Learn more about setting up and using Mirroring here.
-AirPlay. AirPlay also requires an iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch running iOS 5 or later connected to the same WiFi network as an Apple TV. If you do not need all of the features of Mirroring and simply want to play a video, song, or display photos in a slideshow type format to a group, AirPlay might be right for you. Learn more about setting up and using AirPlay here.
- iAnnotate or GoodReader. Litigators live and breathe PDFs. Court filings, discovery productions, and client files all flood a litigator's email account with PDF files. Inevitably, an attorney will want to markup a PDF, make notes on a document or store certain PDFs on the iPad hard drive for quick retrieval later. Attorneys with iPads should have a PDF annotation and organization app. In my opinion, there are two clear leaders in this app category, iAnnotate and GoodReader. Tip: While any PDF can be marked up and annotated in these programs, ensuring that the PDFs you use are OCRed prior to use with these apps will allow a user to make use of the full suite of features in both apps. To the extent possible, every PDF should be OCRed. (OCR is an initialism for optical character recognition. It means the PDF is no longer just a flat image of the document. An OCRed document contains text recognized by computing devices--allowing text search and character highlighting.)
- iAnnotate. A robust PDF markup and annotation program, that allows highlighting, underlining, typed notes, call-out notes, and more. If you will be doing a lot of handwritten annotation, I would recommend the purchase of a stylus. Targus makes a good, inexpensive stylus for the iPad. Google it or find a Best Buy.
- GoodReader. Learning from iAnnotate and similar programs that beat it to the punch, GoodReader recently updated its app to include substantial PDF markup and annotation tools. The current features of this app are too many to list in this post, but the following are a few highlights litigators may find useful:
- Store files, such as but not limited to PDF files, on the iPad hard drive for quick, ready access;
- Organize multiple files in folders and subfolders;
- Highlight, markup and annotate PDFs;
- Search OCRed PDFs;
- Transfer files to iPad via USB, WiFi, email attachment or web download;
- Attach files within GoodReader to emails (This is big, since the native Mail app in iOS 5 will not allow for email attachments other than pasting photos.);
- Data protection or file encryption for locally-stored files;
- Password protection of the entire GoodReader app or individual files with the app;
- AirPrint; and
- Integration with iCloud, Dropbox, other cloud data services.
-Keynote. An app version of Apple's answer to Microsoft PowerPoint, use Keynote to create, edit and deliver slideshow presentations. For presentations, get a HDMI cable to hook up to a television or use AirPlay Mirroring with an Apple TV. Not a perfect app, but it may be the best app at what it does.
- Pages. A trimmed-down and touchscreen-friendly word processing program, this app is no replacement for Microsoft Word on a desktop or laptop. Still, it is a useful tool for creating or editing the formatting of word processing documents. This post was created primarily using Pages.
- FedCtRecords. Use PACER? Want access to PACER on your iPhone or iPad? This app is new and allows users to access PACER using their account information. Since the app is relatively new, I have not had a chance to thoroughly test the app. There is only an iPhone version of the app for now, but it works with the iPad through the iPad's iPhone app compatibility feature. This app is free for a limited time. After that, the rumor is it will be $19.99. Act now and save your $20.
- WestlawNext. Westlaw research on your iPad, but this is not yet available for the iPhone. This app is highly functional with a WestlawNext subscription. Research case law, statutes, secondary sources and more on your iPad. Highlight text and make notes on Westlaw research materials. Save to WestlawNext's cloud-based, user-friendly folder storage. It is great for research on the go and may help you find that case you need even while you are in the courtroom.
- Get the bigger hard drive? If you are going to be storing large files or a number of files of any size on your iPad hard drive, this includes all your iTunes movies and your vacation photos, pay the extra money for a larger hard drive. Sure you could use cloud storage to virtually expand your hard drive. But storing files in the cloud will require web access and patience to retrieve when those files are needed. Access to the former is sometimes difficult, and the latter is simply impossible for litigators.
- Keyboard or No Keyboard? I am comfortable using the iPad on-screen keyboard. I don't want the bulk of a Bluetooth or dock keyboard, and that is one more thing I have to remember to carry. Some people hate the lack of tactile feedback from the on-screen keyboard. This decision is pure preference. One point I would make is that if you prefer having use of your entire iPad screen, as opposed to two-thirds of the screen when the iPad soft keyboard is in-use, you may want an external keyboard.
- Case. There is a reason there is no question mark after this header. You (or your firm if you're one of the chosen few) just shelled out a good bit of money for an iPad. iPads break or scratch. People are clumsy. I am sure Apple is working on an indestructible iPad, but until then, why wouldn't you protect your device? What's that?! You prefer the look of the iPad as Steve Jobs himself intended? Ok, then don't whine to anyone when your preference for aesthetics over practicality and protection bites you. Search the web. There is a wide array of iPad cases, covers, and shields out there to help protect your shiny object. Some even look nice. If you're an external keyboard person, there are a number of cases on the market with external keyboards integrated into the case itself.
- Stylus? If you think you want to create handwritten notes, draw, design, or simply hate fingerprints, a stylus may be right for you. You can also digitally sign documents with a stylus and PDF annotation program.
And two to grow on . . .
- Backup your device regularly, and encrypt your backup file if you store confidential information on your iPad or iPhone. New features such as wireless syncing and iCloud make this process easier than ever (well, less wire-intensive at least). Do it or risk regret.
- Siri Dates. While this sounds like the worst name ever for a dating site for Apple fanboys and fangirls, Siri does a great job of calculating calendar dates and calendaring appointments. If you have an iPhone 4S or otherwise have access to Siri (cough...cough...hacked), here is a quick tip. Let's say your client has been served with a complaint and under the applicable rules you have 30 days to respond. You can simply ask Siri, 'what is 30 days from December 25, 2011?' Siri will respond with the date of 30 days following December 25, 2011, January 24, 2012. If your client was served with a complaint on Christmas, I feel sorry for your client. But you get the idea. While Siri will not explain to you how deadlines are calculated under the applicable rules with respect to holidays, weekend and how to count the number of days (yes, I asked), a quick comparison of the result of the Siri inquiry and your own separate, educated calculation will tell you if Siri is counting the days correctly under the relevant rules. You can figure out what to do if the end date falls on a holiday or weekend on your own. Lawyer disclaimer: Siri is not a substitute for independent judgment. Heaven help us all when it is.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.