A few of us here at Slaw have been giving testimonials to our tablet experiences and I am going to follow the trend today, I am very early in my iPad relationship, you could even call me a Pad-awan, if you will. I am currently using the iPad 2 as a test project to try and determine the applicability of the iPad as tool in legal education. In this post I’m going to try to focus on specific apps and why I use them and attempt not to reiterate the specifics of previous posts on this topic. I expect that some of my uses may differ from some readers as I work within an academic institution but I’m sure that some uses cross over. This is also a call for suggestions for apps and uses.
With that background, it is a great tool for “keeping in touch” with the office and work items (half-hearted “yay”); not the hard core nose-to-the-grindstone work but great for keeping tabs on what is going on whilst you are away. I expect the nose-to-the-grindstone stuff will become better with the keyboard. It is also a great communication device, especially personal communications, Skype, Facetime, you name it. It is a great social media tool; on the iPad it is easy to quickly survey the social media landscape, make your contribution and move on. I haven’t tried the dictation app yet, but have downloaded one (Dragon Dictation) and intend on giving it a go. Several years ago I went to an electronic daytimer and found the experience unsatisfactory and moved back to the conventional print daytimer (my guess is that I am in the minority on this), I’m now giving an e-daytimer another go on the iPad; however, it is too early to report back. The iPad is also a great tool for news and current events but most of you are aware of this and have seen it discussed elsewhere.
I use both Safari and Mini-Opera web browsers and am using this as a public call for Firefox to get in the game in a substantial way. Both Safari and Mini-Opera have different issues with handling things such as java and some course content software used at this institution but between the two of them most of the functionality I want is there, but there is room for improvement. In my line of work a PDF reader is essential, as I’m sure it is in many lines of work, where I find it especially useful is for the multitude of committees one finds themselves on at a university. Agendas, minutes, whatever files are being examined in PDF are great for use on the iPad. I think I can safely say that this is the first time since the proclamations of the paperless office began (30-40 years ago?) that I can honestly say I’m using something that consistently cuts down on the amount of paper I handle. I am currently using several apps to determine which suits me best, GoodReader, PDFReader and even iBooks and there are more out there. The more annotating features these apps have the better. On the subject of iBooks, this is my first real foray into a personal ebook reader. I rather like the experience in many respects but there are also limitations to it. The tablet is not as convenient to hold and read for a prolonged period of time and not as convenient on a dock at the cottage. For academic study, annotating features in ebooks are valued, but differs from tabs and highlighting not in a better-or-worse type of way but in how these features affect your workflow. That and legal publishers have been slow to move legal books to ebooks (before you make comments I said “slow” to do it rather than “not” doing it). In many respects I believe that comparing ebooks and print remains an apple and orange type comparison, they are different experiences each with their own merit and demerits, similarly I don’t think print is going to disappear quite yet. Lose market share? Absolutely and quite dramatically, but disappear altogether? Not yet. Will print remain relevant? For the short to medium term, yes.
I applaud the existence of the Quicklaw app, discussed here previously but my thoughts are similar to Ted’s. WestlawNext is an app, unfortunately my academic password doesn’t work on this app. Martindale-Hubbell and Lawyers.com have apps, here I don’t have a quibble with the functionality of the app but the content, there seem to be a paucity of information for Canadian lawyers and firms. While I readily acknowledge that the iPad is not a device one should be using for hardcore word processing, I still want to do word processing, say in those committee meetings, and I’ve yet to find an app that satisfies my humble word processing wants, suggestions are welcomed both for this purpose or any other that works for you.