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A look at 4 of my favorite apps and extensions

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "A look at 4 of my favorite apps and extensions."  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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A look at 4 of my favorite apps and extensions  

I’m a big fan of technology and am always looking for new ways to incorporate technology tools into my daily workflow. As a result, I often find myself experimenting with new apps and browser extensions. Here are a few of my latest discoveries, including iOS apps and browser extensions that simplify my life and streamline my workflow.

First, there’s the GoogleNow iOS app. This app is an intelligent personal assistant that responds to voice commands and also provides “information cards” catered to your needs. The information is gleaned from your phone’s GPS data and the data that Google has collected from your search history and your Gmail account. It then personalizes the results and predicts which “information cards” will be most useful to you, such as traffic directions and conditions from your current location to your home, information about the delivery status of packages, the status of flights you’re scheduled to take, news items of interest, the weather for your current location, restaurants and attractions located nearby, and more.

Of course, in order to increase the usefulness of the app, you must necessarily give up some of your privacy to Google. But even so, for many, myself included, the convenience and utility of the app may outweigh that concern.

Next, the Tempo smart calendar iOS app. After much searching, this is my smart calendar app of choice. This app connects with the native iOS app, Google calendar, or any other calendar that you’ve set up on your mobile device. Once installed, it’s a simple matter to input an event. You simply type in “Meeting with Mary Smith at 3 at Mac’s Diner” and the app does the rest. It automatically creates an event at the specified time, locates and links to the contact(s) you’re meeting with, and suggests businesses that match the location, giving you the option to include a map with a navigation button, so that you can then pull up turn-by-turn instructions via Google Maps.

It also includes a reminders feature, allows you to search for and link to emails that might be connected to the event, offers the ability to include a free conference call link with just the touch of a button, and allows you to send a pre-written text message to the contact you’re meeting with indicating that you’re running late. There are other smart calendar apps that include many of these features, but I prefer Tempo because it includes a search function and has a clean, intuitive interface that permits the calendar views I find to be most useful.

Next, there’s Oyster, an iOS, Kindle and Android app that offers a reasonably priced e-book lending service. For the small monthly subscription fee of $9.95 per month, you receive unlimited access to over 1 million titles. There are a handful of other similar services out there, but I prefer Oyster because of its simple reading interface. And, the app does a great job of suggesting books that might be of interest to you based on your past reading habits.

Finally, there’s my newest email add-on, MxHero, which works with both Gmail and Outlook. This is a free tool that adds all sorts of optional features to each email that you send. You can track emails to see if and when the recipient opens them, you can schedule emails to be sent at a later date and time, you can send self-destructing emails, and you can send group emails that, to the recipient, appear to have been sent to only him or her. It’s a great tools that gives you lots of control over the emails that you send.

So those are some of my latest discoveries. They work for me, but you won’t know if they’re a good fit for your needs unless you give them a try. So why not download a few to them today and see?

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also a GigaOM Pro Analyst and is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.