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Texting on the iPad

Last week I was on vacation with my family, and we decided to keep in touch via text message when we were not all together.  We wound up using the fantastic GroupMe app, which allows you to set up a group text - so everyone gets all text messages, and when you reply to one text message, everyone sees it.  I highly recommend GroupMe for those occasions when you might want to text a larger group of people all at once.

It got me thinking about text messaging on the iPad - although you cannot make phone calls with your iPad (unless you're using an app like Skype), there are a number of apps that not only allow you to send text messages for free, you get your own phone number you can give out to your friends - again, for free.  If you are a heavy text message user, programs like these can save you some money off your phone bill.

My favorite app is TextNow (free, also available for the iPhone), which is dead simple to use.  Just register for the service, and you'll be given your own email address and an option to receive your own phone number.  Once you're set up, texting is just as simple as it is on your cell phone.  If you're a Google Voice user, you can use your Google Voice number to send and receive text messages; here's a quick tutorial on how to set it up.  Just like regular text messaging, you can send pictures and emoticons.

Another great app is TextFree - it's even easier to use than TextNow, if that's possible.  It offers many of the same features, except you do not get your own email address.  However, the iPhone app offers something that TextNow doesn't - free telephone calls.  Okay, it's really only free to call other TextFree users (just like Skype) - you'll have to buy minutes to call other people.

Either way, those of you who send lots of text messages, to your children or others, should consider using one of these apps - they can save you a bunch of money on text messaging fees, and now you can get text messages whenever you're using your iPad.


iPhone Tip - Automatically Dial an Extension

Today I'm going to cover an iPhone tip - you iPad users will have to pardon my digression, because this is a pretty nifty tip:  automatically configuring your iPhone to dial an extension.  The magic comes by inserting a "pause" during the dialing process, which your iPhone permits.  Here's how to do it.

Go into the contact you'd like to edit, or create a new contact.  

In the phone number area, enter the main number of the contact. Then press the +*# button, and pause will appear where the number 4 usually sits.









Each time you press pause, the iPhone inserts a comma - the more commas, the longer the pause between the time the call is answered and the time that the extension is dialed.  Enter as many commas as you think are needed.

Then add the extension.  Press Done.








Now when you go back to your contact, you'll see the phone number like this, to let you know that the iPhone will directly dial the extension the next time you need to call that number.


iPad/iPhone Battery Charger Review - Zaggsparq 2.0

I've been trying out the ZAGGsparq 2.0, a ridulously simple battery charger for my iPad and iPhone.  Although I rarely have a problem with the battery life for either of these devices, there are times when I could use a little extra juice, and I'm not near a plug or grounded power supply.  That's where ZAGGsparq comes in handy.

Once it's fully charged (which takes about 9 hours), the ZAGGsparq can recharge your iPhone 4 times.  The device has two USB plugs; the top one is optimized for a "power" charge, for devices that can handle an optimized charge. The bottom plug charges devices that do not utilize the optimized specification - it will still charge your iPhone or iPad, just not as fast.

I was in Toronto last week, and noticed while I was in the Immigration line that my iPhone battery was a little lower than I would have liked.  I whipped out the ZAGGsparq, plugged it in, and 20 minutes later when I was through the line the iPhone was almost fully charged.

There are a couple of negatives to the ZAGGsparq, although I don't necessarily consider either a deal-breaker.  The first is that a fully-charged ZAGGsparq won't completely recharge your iPad; it will only charge it up to 60%.  This really shouldn't be a problem, because the main point of this device is to provide you with a little extra power until you can get to a power outlet. The other drawback is a bit more limiting - ZAGG says that if you are charging a device that draws a significant amount of power, like the iPad, you may not be able to charge your iPhone in the second outlet at the same time.  In fact, if two high-power devices are connected, it may actually deactivate the ZAGGsparq.  

Despite these limitations, I still recommend the ZAGGsparq as a battery-charging tool - it's relatively light at 8.6 ounces, and is pretty compact.  You can get it for $99.95 at, although I was able to get mine at my local Radio Shack.  You can also find ZAGG products at Best Buy, Target, and Staples stores, among others.


Questions from the Mailbag

Last week I received a couple of emailed questions, and I thought I'd post the answers to them, so everyone could get the benefit of the information.

R.B. asked: Recently attended your ABA webinar on 60 iPad apps for lawyers. I have also been looking over your book. But I did not see an app that would act as a to-do list that interacts and syncs with my desk top outlook calendar. I would love to use my iPad as my notebook in meetings to set up tasks. Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.

Answer: One of my favorite To Do apps is Remember the Milk.  It has a plugin that will sync with Outlook, so your tasks automatically appear there.  The app is free, but to get the service on your iPad I think the cost is $25/year.  It is a fantastic task management tool - very powerful and customizable.  I keep several To Do lists there - one for each of my projects, personal tasks, and others.  Every day I go through each list and select those tasks that I must get done that day - I can then create a Smart Task List that will only show the prioritized tasks for the day.

There are a ton of other To Do apps in the Apple Store - a lot of them are mentioned in this App Guide for Task Managers. I have not tried all of them, so I do not know whether they all sync with Outlook.  I do know that the number one choice, Omnifocus, does not.

A.J. asked:   I use a sheet of paper to summarize an entire real estate deal, basically summing up the contract and notes as to what the taxes are and when i ordered the survey and stuff like that. do you know of an app that will let me create a 40 or so category template that i can use to keep track of each of my deals on the ipad?

Answer:  I have two suggestions for you - one is basic (that you may have already tried), and one is an app I really like.

You say you use a piece of paper to summarize the deal - have you ever tried using a spreadsheet?  You can do the same thing in a spreadsheet, and enter data into separate rows, columns or sheets to keep track of them.  The advantage to using a spreadsheet is that you can synchronize it with your desktop or laptop computer - so you can access that list on multiple computers.  If you want to do this, I recommend two apps for managing spreadsheets on your iPad - Documents to Go or QuickOffice Pro HD.  They both allow you to create/edit any type of Microsoft Office document.

If you just want to handle this from the iPad, check out Bento.  It's a personal database program - you can create your list and add as many fields as you want.  There are a lot of different template types that you can choose from.  There's also a standalone program if you own a Mac - unfortunately, no PC version is available yet.


The Book - Now, in e-Format

I'm pleased to announced that my book, iPad in One Hour for Lawyers, is now available as an e-book in the ABA Web Store.  It is my understanding that this is the first e-book sold by the ABA - which makes me doubly proud.  You can read this ebook on just about every device - your iPad, iPhone, Nook, Sony E-Reader, Kobo - everything except the Kindle.  Unfortunately, we won't be selling the book on Amazon for a few more months yet, but when it's available there I'll let everyone know.

If you want to go through iTunes, here's the link to buy iPad in One Hour for Lawyers as an iBook that will download directly to your iPad.

And if you already have the book (or don't need it), be sure to pass this post along to someone who's just getting started!

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