We enjoyed our presentation at the Atlanta ALA Symposium for Legal Managers today. As promised, here are the slides from the show!
Despite the popularity of other messaging platforms, including Facebook messaging, Twitter, and even plain text messaging; we still are slaves to our old familiar e-mail Inbox. For most professionals working in the legal space, e-mail is the lifeblood of communications, not only with clients but with co-workers and vendors as well. Increasingly we find ourselves drafting and responding more to e-mail messages on our mobile devices than on our office desktop PCs. As such, we are constantly looking for the optimal e-mail app that allows us to master our Inbox on our smartphone rather than scrambling to find an important e-mail buried weeks-deep in our Inbox. Fairly or not, we seem to always judge an e-mail client app based on how it performs compared to Outlook, simply because we are so accustomed to the Microsoft Outlook interface that has ruled our desktop for the past 10-15 years.
So, it is not surprising that our ears perked up recently on the Microsoft announcement that a new, free Outlook mobile app was being rolled out for both iOS and Android platforms. It’s been a long time coming, so we downloaded the new app on our respective smartphones with much anticipation, but also with a little bit of dread for fear that the mobile Outlook would not live up to its hype. Thankfully, our fears were unfounded. Our test drive of the new Outlook mobile app has gone very smoothly and we have taken a strong liking to this new e-mail tool.
First of all, setup was a breeze on the new Outlook app, with smart setup wizards for the major e-mail account options, including Exchange, Outlook.com, Google (Gmail), Yahoo, and, even iCloud (yes, Microsoft plays nice with Apple…take note, Apple developers). Additionally, we were pleasantly surprised to see integrations with cloud storage providers OneDrive (Microsoft’s solution), Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive (more on this later). There were no arcane server names or ports to configure (for those familiar with the old-fashioned e-mail setup). We just entered our login credentials, and voilá, our e-mail started appearing.
Once again, we made our annual trek to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show (January 5–9). On the morning of January 6, with our hearts all aflutter, we hopped on a Southwest Airlines jet to view the latest offerings in gadget “geekdom.” We hurried off the plane, grabbed a bite to eat, and headed straight to the Las Vegas Convention Center to fill ourselves with visions of tech toys.
Upon arrival, however, we almost immediately turned into “tech curmudgeons.” It seemed that we had seen everything before: 4K TVs–seen that; Internet of Things–been there, done that; flying drones–already saw it; wireless speakers of every kind–Bill has most of them. At the end of our first day, we were unimpressed.
Phil got a bright idea and decided to study the online materials for the Show. He discovered that the Innovation Awards (and apparently most of the innovative devices) were on display at the Sands Expo, and not at the main Las Vegas Convention Center. We decided to walk to that venue from our hotel, rather than taking the monorail. The “short walk” turned out to be about two miles, but it was well worth it. This is the stuff we came to see! Here are a few examples.
We have been touting “wearable tech” way before “wearable tech” was cool. But, guess what, the coolness factor has finally caught up with our hype. We say that because we recently purchased the long-awaited Moto 360, Motorola’s entry into the Android Wear smartwatch swarm. We were sold on the technology behind smartwatches a couple of years ago, but now our non-tech friends don’t make fun of us when we wear our new Moto 360 to the annual office holiday soiree. The distinguishing characteristic about the Moto 360 is it’s stylish round-face, as opposed to the rectangular, geeky looking watch face of some of the other smartwatches that we have acquired. The black leather band also helps mask the appearance of this smartwatch as just another layman’s watch.
But don’t let the stylish appearance of the Moto 360 trick you into thinking it is just a timepiece. Indeed, you can customize how the current time displays, from a traditional long and short-hand dial to an ultra-sleek, modern numeric readout. But you can do so much more with the Moto. As with all Android Wear-based smartwatches, you can view this watch as an extension of your Android-based cell phone. (Alert: there is no need to get this or any other Android Wear-based smartwatch if you don’t have the requisite Android-based smartphone). You get notifications of texts, e-mails, and phone calls on the watch without pulling your phone out of your pocket or purse. The integrated mic allows you to issue voice commands with the familiar “Ok Google” wake-up call. We have been able to “ask the watch” for navigational directions and then get the turn-by-turn steps on the watch. Of course, this is all powered by the nearby Android phone, but all of the interaction is on the watch. For the health conscious, there is a constant heart-rate monitor along with a step counter app integrated with the phone. There are other environmental monitoring notifications that you can receive on the watch, such as temperature and weather info. Of course, one can download other special apps that are being developed for the Android Wear platform for a myriad of functions.
Goliath vs. Goliath
Midterm elections, college football playoffs, World Series…competition is in the air. But the race that we are watching closely is the battle of the tech titans: two huge companies, Apple and Samsung, going head to head with their Goliath phablets (a cross between a smartphone and tablet), the iPhone 6 Plus and the Galaxy Note 4. Of course, we couldn’t sit this one out on the sidelines, so we got together to decide who was going to buy what and turned this Apple vs. Samsung battle into the ultimate Bill vs. Phil challenge. Bill went with his heart and chose the iPhone 6 Plus. Phil went with his head and chose the Galaxy Note 4. The credit card transactions were made, the phones were activated, and the two gladiators were off to prove that his phablet choice was the best. Each makes their case below:
Phil: Samsung Galaxy Note 4
The fourth generation of Samsung’s very popular Note series smartphone is definitely the best phablet on the market. In fact, you could say (and many are indeed saying) that the iPhone 6 Plus is simply Apple’s attempt to catch up with Samsung’s popular giant Note. The Note 4 display is a dazzling 5.7 inches (larger than the iPhone 6 Plus) and, admittedly takes some getting used to handling. The metal frame around the edges gives the Note 4 a sturdier albeit heavier feel than its predecessor, the Note 3. While I am thrilled with the incredible size and resolution of the Note 4’s display; it’s what’s on the inside that makes the phone a winner. The phone has a beastly quad-core processor that is noticeably faster than my previous Galaxy S4 phone. The 16mp camera takes beautiful photos. The battery life is good and can be charged fairly rapidly. In addition, Samsung has introduced some battery-saving features on the phone that they tout can significantly stretch the amount of time you can go between charges.
It’s amazing the way mobile smartphone technology has accelerated our sense of technical obsolescence. During the swiftly fading PC-era, a good hearty desktop PC was “current” and completely functional for at least a good three, maybe five years. How times have changed as computers have miniaturized and morphed into mobile devices that we carry as constant companions. Yesterday’s cool smartphone (the main computing device for many professionals) is quickly outdated within months of release, as cash-craving tech companies rush to market with the newest model that we just can’t live without. No one exemplifies this accelerated obsolescence model more than Apple, who in fact ushered in the smartphone era back in 2007 with the introduction of its funny-looking phone called the iPhone. Building on the unprecedented success of that novel invention (and using its sizable wad of cash), Apple keeps upping the ante with a new model that is so bright and shiny, it makes last year’s model look so, so…well, dated.
BILL AND PHIL’S GADGET OF THE MONTH
KEEP YOUR GADGETS AND COMPUTERS SECURE DON’T GET CAUGHT NAKED ON THE INTERNET
We could not help but notice all of the publicity about hackers who broke into iCloud accounts belonging to celebrities. Apparently, these hackers were able to post several nude pictures of these celebrities on a website called, “4chan.” Several people have contacted us and queried why a celebrity would post such pictures of themselves and post them to iCloud. Bill responded by saying that he had posted several such pictures of himself, and no one had ever attempted to access them (just kidding!). It is obviously a bad idea to post confidential information, intimate information or data of any kind or other such secret material in storage on the Cloud. In all likelihood, at least some of these celebrities did not even know their pictures were automatically being posted to their respective iCloud accounts.
Consequently, we decided that we would use this opportunity to take advantage of all the publicity and write an article about maintaining personal security on the web.
Ahh. The collective sigh you hear from our lips is because of the reduced weight in our backpacks as we trudge through the airport en route to yet another Bill & Phil Show presentation. Being the tech geeks that we are, we’re usually not satisfied with just one computing device stowed away in our overstuffed backpacks. Of course our smartphones are ever present, but in addition we almost always pack both a tablet PC device and a more traditional laptop computer. It should come as no surprise that we are certainly not in the “all work and no play” camp. During work hours, the laptop comes out and the billable hours begin to accumulate. During leisure hours, however, whether it’s games, music, books, or just internet browsing, we both prefer using our tablet devices. Well, now the ground has shifted. With the release of its third generation Surface “tablet” device, Microsoft has allowed us to remove both the traditional laptop and the tablet from our bag and replace them with just this one device that is the best of both worlds.
Microsoft released the Surface Pro 3 in June 2014 and we quickly picked one up from our local retailer. Yes, we bought the first Surface way back in 2012 (and quickly sold it on eBay). We tried again with the Surface Pro 2, which was much improved, but still was not the killer device that we had hoped. Warily, we forked over a credit card for Microsoft’s third bite at the apple (no pun intended). Upon unboxing our $1,000 i5, 128GB Surface 3, we immediately noticed that Microsoft had indeed raised the bar. The tablet itself is noticeably thinner and lighter than its two predecessors. Impressively, the Surface Pro 3 sports an incredible 12-inch display in that lighter, thinner frame. The only thing that we have really seen to date that compares with the Surface 3 display was the 12.2-inch Galaxy Tab Pro that we first saw at the 2014 CES. We love having the larger display for doing serious work (word processing, spreadsheet editing, litigation document review, etc.) without adding bulk and weight to the device.