Essential Law School Apps – Part II – Evernote Mobile

This is the second part of a series of posts in which I will profile the apps and services I found essential to my first year as a law student. The first semester I restricted use to a laptop. After receiving an iPad 2 for Christmas, the second semester was limited to in-class use of the iPad and free reign while at home.

For more on Evernote, see my previous post on the desktop clients available.

3: Evernote for iPhone/ Evernote for Android

Evernote is a powerful little tool to carry in your pocket. I currently have an iPhone 4S, but had an HTC Eris and had Evernote installed on that as well. It appears as though there is a new version of Evernote for Android, which you can read more about at the official Evernote blog. For the most part, I never used the phone version of Evernote during class. It just doesn’t look great to be on your cell phone during class, despite the fact you know you’re using Evernote.

Bullet list on Evernote for iPhone.

That being said, there are a few features which can be useful when paired with a laptop or iPad. The mobile version of Evernote includes the same audio recording capabilities as its desktop counterpart. Remember to always check with your professor BEFORE you record audio of your class sessions. I cannot stress enough that not all professors allow audio or video recording of any or all of their classes. Once you have permission, it is great to have moments during a class you have recorded which you can revisit later for clarification. Also, it can be helpful during a large group meeting or discussion when everyone is throwing out ideas and there is not enough time to write them all down. The audio notes feature does not interfere with the ability to continue taking notes! This is such a smart feature design, but you need to be careful with the keyboard taps and mouse clicks, because the microphone will pick them up! I had a few early audio notes full of keyboard sounds and coughs – don’t let that be you!

Quickly check and view data usage in Settings.

The ability to add photos to notes is a great feature. However, as I’ve said before, I never had my phone out during class for Evernote. I would simply use the camera app on my phone (since it is higher quality than that of my iPad and laptop webcam) and snap a quick photograph of the board, handouts, or graded papers we had to hand back for filing. I would insert the photographs at a later point.

4: Evernote for iPad

I am in love with Evernote for iPad. The design is perfect. The app layout is intuitive and easy to navigate quickly. It can also display Microsoft Office and PDF documents that are stored in notebooks. My favorite feature of the iPad (and iPhone) platforms for Evernote is the ability to highlight selected text.

The highlight tool is essential to remembering important topics covered in class.

I use highlights during class when professors drop hints or focus on a specific topic that you know will end up on the exam. I don’t understand why the highlights feature is available on the mobile Evernote platforms and not on the desktop platforms. Regardless, the highlighted text will sync and display correctly on both the Desktop and Web clients.

Another feature that is missing on the mobile platforms for Evernote is the ability to draw or write. These are a feature/ tool that just seem logical to have included with a touch-screen app.

The Skitch home screen on the iPad.

5: Skitch

Skitch is a free drawing and photo-editing app for the iPad (and also available in the Mac App Store for Apple users) and is now owned by Evernote. I used this app (along with the stylus below) for mapping out the sometimes complicated procedural histories of cases. Just like Everynote, the app is simple, easy to use, and intuitive. It exports directly to Evernote, as well as a multitude of other apps.

Skitch includes the ability to export to Evernote, providing a work-around to the lack of drawing/ sketching tools built-in to Evernote.

6: Stylus

AmazonBasics Stylus for Touchscreen Devices Including Kindle Fire, Apple iPad 2, the New iPad, Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab, BlackBerry PlayBook

One last thing: I highly recommend this stylus! I was torn between buying the AmazonBasics model and the Wacom Bamboo. I went with the cheaper option and have been amazed at how responsive it has been. I’ve had it about 6 months now and it has held up to heavy use and performs like new.

Up Next: Dropbox