Whether your journaling needs are driven by professional requirements or personal uses, Day One has a cross-platform journaling/diary-keeping solution that is convenient, elegant, and easy to use. Day One provided me copies of their Mac and iPad apps for review. For the past three weeks, I’ve been journaling daily–sometimes more than once a day–and have found the experience to be pretty much all I’ve wanted in a journaling app. It’s no wonder to me that Day One was a Mac App Store top app last year.
Available both for Mac OS X (updated for Mavericks) and iOS (updated for iOS 7) as a universal iPhone/iPad app, Day One combines a solid writing environment with data tools to give your writing context. Starting an entry automatically date and time stamps it, though this can be edited to be whatever you want it to be. Location and weather data can be added with a single tap, as can be tags, current iTunes track, and for devices with the new motion processor, daily step count, and activity tracking such as whether you were flying, running, or doing other activities. The distraction-free writing environment lets you get down to business, without tons of formatting palettes and toolbars that make writing in a regular word processor somewhat less than optimal for capturing your free-flowing thoughts.
The main view shows a snippet of each entry in reverse time order, from top to bottom, newest posts on top. Hovering over the entry lets you see more of the entry without opening it fully. The integrated calendar shows you at a glance the days on which you have journaled, and the days for which you might still need to write an entry. Hovering over a date shows you what you wrote on that date. On iOS devices, the photo view arranges all your entries with attached photos into a full-screen collage with the date of each photo superimposed, for quick reference and enjoyment. On Mac, the maps view allows you to see how many entries you’ve written at each map location you’ve captured in your entries. This could be fun for journaling whilst on holiday, to track your travels visually. The interface as a whole is uncluttered and visually pleasing, in comforting tones of blue, grey, and white.
The Mac app contains the option to show writing prompts, useful for those who journal regularly and like to record their thoughts on a wide variety of subjects. For professional users, tags and the built-in search tool make Day One a useful repository for client-specific note taking or project note keeping. Attorneys, for example, could assign tags for client names or types of cases, and easily keep track of the results of meetings and phone calls with clients. The time stamp on note creation can be useful to those who bill their time out, though there is no ending time stamp, so that would have to be noted manually if this were to be your usage scenario.
In my three weeks of using Day One, I have found it to sync perfectly across my devices, which has made me more likely to actually keep a journal, something I have tried to do off and on (mostly off) for years. The ability to set a daily reminder to journal is nice for keeping me on target, as is the quick entry feature on the Mac version, which places a Day One icon in the menu bar where you can quickly type an entry (or just a brief thought to finish later) without even launching the full app. Like so many things that my iPhone and iPad have made easier in my life, being able to write (or dictate!) a journal entry whenever and wherever I am when the inspiration arises has been a tremendous boon to my journal-keeping goals. The seamless set-it-and-forget-it iCloud and Dropbox syncing capability makes this possible. I especially enjoy that Day One has given me the ability to remember my random iPhone snapshots in context and make notes on them for future enjoyment. Too often, the casual ability to take photos with our phones results in lots of pics with not a lot of context or remembrance of why they were meaningful to us to begin with. Being able to incorporate those pics quickly and easily into a journal may be the best thing to ever happen to the camera phone. Exporting from Day One to a PDF is also smooth and easy. Perhaps each year you might want to print and bind your journal, and Day One makes this a snap. Emailing a PDF or the text of any entry is also very simple right from within the app, using the standard iOS sharing tools.
Suggestions: color-coding entries would be a nice addition, sort of like the colored tags (formerly labels) in Mac OS X. For professional users or individuals who need more privacy, the built-in passcode protection on the Mac app can be gotten around by all but the most casual would-be snoopers. Of course, anytime a third party has physical access to your computer, your data is at some risk of being compromised. But it would be nice if a true encryption option existed rather than app-level password protection, which just prevents the app from being launched without the passcode, while leaving the actual text data files still accessible to those who can find them. For most users, though, the user-account password in OS X should suffice, because theoretically if you don’t want someone accessing your data, you probably don’t want them in your user account to begin with. Also, whilst a single journal entry can be viewed on the map on iOS, the Mac-only map overview of all entries would be nice to see on the iOS app as well.
Get the apps here:
Day One for Mac $9.99
Day One for iOS (combined iPad/iPhone app) $4.99
- Review by Ronald Schoedel, Esq.
By Ronald C Schoedel III
Calendars 5 is the latest iPhone and iPad calendar app from Readdle, the same folks who brought us PDF Expert, which I recently reviewed here on iLegalPad.com. Calendars 5 is a universal app, meaning it works on both iPad and iPhone, with just one purchase ($6.99 on the App Store). I used Calendars 5 on both my iPhone and my iPad for a few weeks and what impresses me overall is the attention to detail paid by Calendar 5’s designers, who have added subtle touches that make it intuitive and easy to use, in all of its various views and on both types of devices, as well as its integration of tasks and appointments into one application. Calendars 5 works with iCloud and Google calendars, and works just fine with the five calendars I synced with it. Of course, you can choose to display or hide calendars on an as needed basis.
Calendars 5 makes very good use of the iPhone 5 screen area, and offers a list view of your daily appointments something like the iOS Calendar app used to offer until iOS 7’s redesign. Lots of folk I know loved the list view; with Calendars 5, you can have it back, and in a visually intuitive form that shows color coding for each event to match the calendar, as well as a “slider” at the bottom of the scree showing your position in the current week, for reference. Daily, weekly, and monthly views provide detail and bird-eye views of your calendar, as needed.
Whilst the iPhone version provides a number of advantages over the native iOS 7 calendar app (some of which will be mentioned shortly), my favorite iteration of Calendars 5 is on the iPad, where it really has room to shine thanks to the large screen format. I love the day view, which shows a rolling list along the left side, and the hourly calendar on the right, along with the current time displayed as a line across the timeline. Individual events show the scheduled time (e.g., under my event entitled “Work”, the blue event box also shows the times scheduled, 8:00 - 17:00). Recurring events display a small circular arrow within the event box, providing an immediate visual cue. A date slider along the bottom of the screen shows two weeks worth of dates between which you slide. On the iPhone, the list and day views are separate due to the limited screen area.
The week view on both the iPad and the iPhone cleverly indicate that events are scheduled before or after the actively visible screen area with little arrow icons in the color of the calendar on which events are scheduled, to make sure you don’t overlook something that is scheduled later in the day. In the same manner as the day view, the week view has a slider across the bottom through which you can scroll through the weeks and choose which one to view. Ditto for the month and year views. The month view looks fairly similar to the native iOS app, but the year view shows each day color coded as to how busy it is: white for days with nothing scheduled, yellow, orange, and red for progressively busier days. This is great to get a bird’s eye view of the year and see when you’re booked out, at a glance.
My absolutely favorite feature is the natural language input method employed (optional to use). Don’t get me wrong: I think the sliders and wheel metaphors in iOS are great and handy and all. But sometimes it’s easier to just type “Meet Jim at Paradise Bakery tomorrow at 13:00” and have it automatically know the date, time, and location, as well as the title of the event. If you’re a fast typist, this may be the easiest way to add an event to the calendar--much the way that advanced typists can do with their keyboard using shortcuts a task for which many would prefer a mouse. Of course, dictation (on those devices supporting it) works as well, so you can just speak your event into existence.
The task list integrates with iCloud’s Reminders, so you can stay synced between your iDevices and your Mac’s Reminder list. The primary advantage is that both tasks and calendar events show up in one app, giving you an idea of how busy your day is, when you’ve got due dates assigned to your reminders or tasks.
Other intuitive features include drag and drop for events and tasks, the ability to send SMS reminders and custom alerts for events. Event invitations can be sent from within Calendars 5 as well.
Calendars 5 has a nice, iOS 7-inspired design that looks sharp and crisp. I am a fan and enjoy using it daily. You will too.
Get it here: Calendars 5 for iPhone and iPad by Readdle
In all the years Microsoft has produced Office for the Mac, they've completely left out OneNote, which has become the standard for note taking for Windows Office users for years. Mac users have been hoping for something similar. Whilst other note taking apps exist, and some of them are quite good, there has never been--aside from virtualization--a way for a Mac user to sync with OneNote notebooks used on a work PC, for example.
Now, merry Christmas to all of us, here comes Outline for Mac, bringing with it a capable, beautiful platform for note taking on Mac and iPad, with OneNote compatibility. You don't need OneNote to use or enjoy Outline. But if you've struggled to get along without OneNote on your Mac, this is definitely your lucky day. At only $39.99 Outline is an outstanding and bargain-priced app for comprehensive note taking and organization.
So whether you're a Mac-using OneNote devotee or you're looking for a productivity-enhancing note-taking system, Outline has your solution.
I've previously reviewed both the Outline reader for Mac and Outline+ for iPad, and given them my stamp of approval. In the past 24 hours of using the pre-release version of Outline for Mac (the release version went live today on the Mac App Store), I can say that my enthusiasm remains strong. Note taking on the Mac just got amazing.
Get it here:
Outline for Mac
Outline+ for iPad
Copy.com is one of the latest entrants to the increasingly competitive consumer-oriented cloud data storage market. If you are familiar with Dropbox, you will be instantly familiar with Copy. I've been a Dropbox user for a few years now, and have also been a very happy Copy user, for the past several months. I use both services, each for different purposes, and I submit that even if you have a Dropbox account, you, too might find a place in your workflow for Copy.com.
Copy combines a web interface, an iOS app, and a Mac app (as well as Linux, Android, and Windows versions) to make all of your stored documents available across any device you might have access to at any given time.
I am using Copy to make files from my Documents, Downloads, and Desktop folders on my Mac available to me anytime on my iPhone and iPad, as long as I have internet access. This has proven quite useful when I am away from my computer, on the phone with someone whilst I am out and about, and I want to refer to a document for some information. I simply pull up the Copy app on my iOS device, navigate my folder structure which mirrors that on my Mac, and download the file. The Copy app has a built-in file viewer so I can read most any sort of file. Pages, Numbers, text files, Word, Excel, PDF, images, and others are all readable within the app. For other sorts of files, the "Open in..." function allows you to send your document to other apps on your iPad or iPhone.
Among the other useful features of Copy are its Shared folder, which allows files to be shared amongst Copy users for collaboration or multiple user access, the ability to restore files from multiple previous versions (I counted at least 20 prior versions available to me when I accidentally deleted a file the other day), and significantly better pricing than Dropbox: your first 15 GB are free, compared to Dropbox, which gives you 2 GB free. Use this link, and get an extra 5 GB free after you sign up and install the Copy app on at least one device.
Whether you're looking for backup in the cloud, or file syncing across devices, Copy is a compelling new service that will give Dropbox, SkyDrive, and Google Drive a run for their money.
Get it here:
Review by Ronald C. Schoedel III, Esq.
Every once in a while, a company makes a major mistake in their attempt to enter the mobile app space. Even when their desktop software is amazing, a proper effort is not always put into translation of that software into a mobile context. One such major failure is Microsoft's One Note. What is an outstanding desktop application -- I run Parallels on my Mac almost exclusively for the purpose of using One Note -- has no comparable "official" iOS companion. Sure, there is an official One Note app for iOS. It, however, is rubbish, to be kind. I've never met anyone who thinks otherwise. What I have met, however, is a multitude of iPad users who desperately want to be able to sync One Note with their iPad and use their iPad to edit their One Note notebooks. Thankfully, Outline+ has come along with an amazing app at a bargain price, which makes nearly the entire range of One Note features available on the iPad.
This is the app I've been looking for, since I bought my first iPad just before I started law school over three years ago. Outline+ syncs via iTunes, Skydrive, Dropbox, or Box.com, with any One Note notebook you give it access to. It also has the ability to open One Note notebooks that you get in your email via the "Open In..." feature of iOS. Once a notebook has been brought into Outline+, it's an amazing thing to see in action and to work with.
I first discovered this app when I was a busy law student last year, when my notes were pretty much my life. I had been been searching high and low for the very best way to take notes and keep them synchronized between my MacBook Pro and my iPad. Prior to discovering Outline+, I could not say I was really very pleased with any solution I attempted to cobble together. Now, I feel like my iPad is living up to its true potential to revolutionize the academic and professional side of my life.
Anyone who has ever used One Note will immediately recognize everything about Outline+. But it doesn't have to be used with One Note. It is a fully capable stand-alone note taking app, with the capability to manage data in multiple notebooks, each with multiple colored-tab sections, with multiple pages, which can be created and moved to organize your data how you need it.
Using Outline+ is as easy as anything. Create a notebook, assign it a cover from one of many various colors or designs), then create sections within the notebook, and pages within the sections. In my tests, each page can store a ton of text. (It took me only 3 pages to store the entire content of a multinational treaty I am studying.)
Creating text notes is as simple as tapping on the page: a long tap creates a new note on the page, inside a dotted outline box, just like in One Note. Editing these notes just requires a tap on the note and then a tap inside the note. Moving notes into new positions on the page is accomplished by tapping the note, then long-tapping it to move it. Easy, right?
Text can be indented, bulleted, formatted, etc., just as easily as can be done on a Mac. Thanks to custom indent and outdent "keys" that are added to the iPad's virtual keyboard, text manipulation for the sake of outlining is super easy and convenient. Text menus for numbering or justifying text, as well as applying bold, underline, and italics, appear at the top of the page, along with an absolute necessity for note-taking: a styles menu, featuring various levels of headings.
Inserting photos, either from the photo roll or by taking a new one, is as easy as tapping an icon. When you're actively taking notes or reviewing a page, you can expand the page to fill the screen.
Finding notes is also dead simple: three levels of search are available. You can search the currently selected section/tab, or the current notebook, or even search across all notebooks. Page titles, text, as well as any text that is OCR'd from images is included in the search results.
A thorough, and well-illustrated, user guide is included in the sample "Getting started" notebook, so there need be no intimidation in getting acclimated to Outline+ if you've never used One Note.
In my tests, Outline+ performed as well as I could ever have wanted. One Note notebooks were opened, read, edited, and synced, with complete accuracy. Drawing, highlighting, and annotation is dead simple in Outline+, and very intuitive.
Since I've been using Outline+, I have felt so much more productive with my iPad than I have felt previously. It really does fill a huge void. There are many decent note-taking applications for iPad, some of which I have reviewed over the last three and a half years since the iPad's release. But each of them stands, for the most part, as an island unto itself. Outline+, with its One Note synchronization, allows for your data to be usable instantly on either your iPad, your computer, or any internet-linked computer in the world (thanks to One Note's online version on Office Live). That sort of versatility makes a big difference as to what sort of data I entrust to an application. Outline+ is fast, beautiful, and everything you want in an iPad app. Outline+ looks amazing on the iPad's retina screen. Their blog and support are also super helpful with questions you may have.
If my review has not been enough to convince you, their demo video on outline.ws should do the trick.
I predict huge success for Outline+ as the iPad revolution continues. It's awesome as a stand-alone note taking application, no doubt. But in addition to that, no One Note-using iPad owner should be without it, and the $15 price tag will possibly be the best app-money you spend. For those who want to try before they buy, a (barely) limited version is available for free, called Outline. It has limits on how many pages can be added to a notebook, and lacks direct Dropbox syncing capabilities, but should otherwise be enough to give you a good feel for Outline+'s abilities.
A companion Mac app has been added, which serves as a reader only at this point. It has the benefit of also being a native Mac reader for OneNote of course, so OneNote notebooks people send you from their Windows computers can be read on your Mac with ease, even if you don't personally want to take notes in OneNote or Outline+. But here's where things get really cool: if you buy the Mac Outline reader app right now, you will get the planned update to an editor for free, whilst the cost will go up after the editor is released. This is a great way to basically get everything awesome about OneNote on your Mac for a really low price.
Get the apps here:
Outline+ for iPad
free Outline (demo) for iPad
Outline for Mac
Review by Ronald C. Schoedel III, Esq.
This review was first published for Alaskan Apple Users Group in October 2012, updated in November 2012, and provided here with additional updates.
For nearly twenty years, I've worked hard to stay up to date on technology so that those who count on me don't have to. I've taught scores of workshops and classes, provided in-home and in-office tutoring and training to many, and have written scores of reviews for Mac and iOS software, accessories, and books.
Throughout my prior career in broadcasting and administration, as a recent law school grad, and a new attorney, I've found many ways to utilize my technological background to make my work easier and more productive.
I want to share those tips, hints, and insights with others of the legal profession. My goal is to help all lawyers and other legal professionals best serve their clients and ultimately justice itself, by helping to eliminate tech-induced headaches, gain some efficiencies in our practices, and free up the legal mind to focus on what matters most. This website will be the means through which I attempt to contribute to the moving forward of our profession.
-Ronald C. Schoedel III, Esq.
Ronald C. Schoedel III is an attorney, former broadcaster, student of Welsh, and Sinophile. He has lived in Alaska, Wales, and China (Hong Kong specifically), and presently calls Utah home. He has been teaching and training Mac users for nearly a decade, and started blogging as a software reviewer in 2004.