Microsoft Office 365 Adding Support for Dropbox

Microsoft and Dropbox announced a new partnership today that will allow users to more easily access documents, spreadsheets and presentations stored in Dropbox. Under the new partnership, iPad apps for Dropbox and office apps including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, will offer easy ways to access and edit documents using the Office suite of apps. Along with Microsoft’s own OneDrive, users of Word, Excel and PowerPoint will be able to connect the apps to Dropbox and open and save documents directly to this service. When viewing documents in Dropbox, iPad users will be given the option to directly open documents in the Office 365 apps to view and edit.

It appears that a subscription to Office 365 will still be needed to create and edit documents using the Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps, but the additional cloud storage option will be welcomed by many users. Considering Microsoft’s recent announcement of unlimited cloud storage for subscribers of Office 365, I’m not sure Dropbox is still necessary, but if you are using that service, this change should make life easier for you. The updated apps are expected soon. See the Verge for more information. IMG_5676.JPG

Microsoft OneDrive Goes Unlimited, Improved Encryption for Business Users

Microsoft OneDrive for iPhone

Microsoft announced on Monday October 27, 2014, that its cloud file service, OneDrive, has been updated to allow unlimited storage to subscribers of Microsoft Office 365. Microsoft OneDrive was just updated earlier this summer to provide Office 365 subscribers with 1TB of cloud storage. This means that for as low as $6.99 per month, a user can have a full version of Microsoft Office installed on a desktop computer, use Microsoft Office on the iPad, use Microsoft Office Online, and have unlimited cloud storage of Microsoft OneDrive.

Microsoft OneDrive for iPhone

The storage update is being rolled out in phases beginning with Office 365 Home, Personal and University customers. Microsoft promises that the roll-out will continue over the next few months, with OneDrive for Business customers seeing unlimited storage in 2015.

Additionally, Microsoft announced enhanced Mobile Device Management (MDM) for Office 365. IT administrators will be able to set more advanced mobile device policies for iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices running Office 365 beginning the first quarter of 2015. This will be done directly from the Office 365 administration portal, and will allow an Office 365 administrator to perform selective wipes of devices to remove only Office 365 corporate data (and leaving personal data intact), to set requirements of security (like pin access), and disable services if a Jailbreak or root is detected.

Microsoft also indicated that SharePoint and OneDrive for Business have been enhanced to provide advanced encryption of data at rest (while files are stored on Microsoft’s servers). Per-file encryption has been added, which means that every file stored on OneDrive for Business now has its own unique key, and any update to the file creates a new unique key. This means that even if an individual is somehow able to intercept the encryption key, it will only work for one file, and is only valid until that file is modified. Also if brute force is used to break the encryption of the protected file, each and every file has to have its encryption key broken separately.

These updates to OneDrive for Business and Office 365 further strengthen Microsoft’s offering in the cloud and office productivity areas. Microsoft is making it easier everyday to leave competing products from Google and DropBox behind.

iOS 8 Not Ready for Prime Time?

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On September 17, 2014, Apple released iOS 8 for existing iPhones and iPads. This software was in beta from June 2014 until its’ release. Although from a user interface perspective, this was a small update, from an architecture perspective, iOS 8 added many new features under the hood. Unfortunately, after using the the release version of the software for nearly a week, it looks like Apple may have released the software before it was actually ready. Overall I am happy with some of the new features, but I cannot help but think that iOS 8 needed at least 2-4 weeks of additional refinement before being released.

The biggest problem that I see was that developers were not able to release versions of their software that took advantage of new iOS 8 features, until iOS 8 was released to the general public. This meant that although a beta of iOS 8 had been available to other developers since June, features like Health Kit integration, notification center widgets, iCloud Drive, and extensions could not be enabled for apps released to the App store until iOS was released on September 17, 2014. Although developers had a method to enlist beta users to test their apps, limited beta test cannot reveal problems as much as a public beta can. The result was that even major developers like DropBox did not have a functioning app available initially, and they had to release multiple fixes within several days of the release of iOS 8.

From my perspective, it appears that Apple knew that it wanted to release new iPhones on a certain day (September 19, 2014), and although the software was not quite ready, it was decided that the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus was too important, so unfinished software was released to the general public.

Within hours of iOS 8 being released, Apple disabled all Health Kit functionality. App developers that had prepared new versions of their software taking advantage of Health Kit were forced to remove their apps, and return to prior functionality. Apple Pay cannot yet be used to make purchases with the new phones, and there has been no mention of Home kit by Apple or any of the partners that were supposed to be able to offer better home automation integration using iOS 8 devices.

I love having Swiftkey and Swype keyboards installed on my iPhone and iPad, but I have found that both keyboards frequently stop functioning. Although there is no mention of a need for a cellular connection or WiFi to use the third-party keyboards, there seems to be an issue when there is not a reliable connection. Even when there is a reliable connection, I frequently find that both Swiftkey and Swype keyboards disappear and I am switched back to the native iOS keyboard without the ability to even manually switch back to Swiftkey or Swype. I also have had multiple occasions when I should have a keyboard available, like when doing a spotlight search or drafting a text message, where I have no keyboard available at all (I simply have a blank screen staring back at me).

With extensions, again my experience has been hit or miss. For example, PDF Converter adds a handy extension to convert photos, webpages, or certain documents to a PDF, but it works some times and other times does absolutely nothing. There also is no way to know exactly which App is an extension and which one is simply an “Open In” option when you are looking at the “Open In” dialog box. Since extensions do something on top of your current app without necessarily making you leave the app you are in, and Open In sends your current document to another app and leaves the app you are using, this is an important area that needs improvement.

Apple’s introduction of iCloud Drive also made no sense. Although users are prompted to update to iCloud Drive when installing iOS 8, it breaks compatibility with iOS 7 devices and applications, and is not compatible with Mac OS X currently. If you don’t update to iCloud Drive, you are unable to use some of Apple’s apps (like Pages and Keynote), and if you do update, some of your third party applications may or may not function properly. Once you update, there is no going back, so if you find an application that currently doesn’t work, you are just out of luck. Although this was promised as a centralized file system all your apps have access to, developers must enable the support, and even after they do, my experience has been that not all apps are seeing all documents saved to iCloud drive.

For some reason, Apple also decided that the Camera roll no longer should be used, and completely changed the Photos App. In the Photos App, you used to have an option in albums called “Camera Roll”. In iOS 8, you no longer have Camera Roll, but instead have something called “Recently Added”. However there is nothing to let you know what “Recently Added” means. From what I can tell, it only includes photos that have been taken within the last 30 days. To see older photos, you have switch over the “Photos” button within the Photos app. The problem with the “Photos” section is that it only allows you to view your photos in “Moments” view. This means that you do not have the option just to see the grid of all your photos any longer. If you are going to change this, why not include “All Photos” in the “Album” section?

Additionally, I have found many quirks that simply make no sense. The Camera app on my iPhone 6 Plus has simply froze on several occasions without allowing me to take a picture. To fix this problem, I have had to force close my Camera app. Actionable notifications are not well thought out. If you have your notifications setup as pop-ups (as I always have done in the past for text messages, phone calls, and voice mail messages so that I don’t miss the notification), if you are in the middle of replying to a text message (using the actionable notification feature), and another notification comes in, your text message reply is lost and you must manually enter the Messages app and restart your reply.

Even as I was preparing this article, I had Dropbox crash on my iPad twice, and my keyboard stop working once. Now my guess is that some of these problems are related to the third party apps as opposed to Apple, other things like Health Kit, Home Kit, iCloud Drive, Photos and the text message reply issue are definitely problems with Apple’s software.

For me, I am a software user that likes to live on the edge, so these problems have not caused me to stop using iOS 8, but I am also the same person that has been using iOS 8 since beta 1. For the every day lawyer using this software in practice, these could be major issues.

To be generous to Apple, the initial release of iOS 8 can only be described as a mess. At best this software in its current form should only be considered a late beta, and not even a release candidate. This is a major blunder for Apple, and I am surprised that it has not resulted in more user complaints. This shows me that Apple has to restructure its beta releases better, and should have actually allowed developers to begin to release apps with iOS 8 functionality before it came out of beta. This would have allowed both the developers and Apple to have fixed problems before the software was made available to all users. Apple should have also released the current version of iOS 8 as a public beta, and allowed anyone willing to freely test the software before releasing the finished version.

My recommendation right now is that the legal community stay away from iOS 8 for the time being. It appears that several of iOS 8’s current issues will be resolved once Apple releases the next version of Mac OS X, which is expected next month. Problems with iCloud Drive and third party apps should also improve with App updates in the intervening period. If you are a new purchaser of an iPhone, you have no choice but to use iOS 8. In that situation, please report your problems to both Apple and developers so that fixes can be issued. I see a lot of potential in iOS 8, and I cannot wait until a stable version is finally available.

iOS 8, Using Third-Party Keyboards, Swiftkey and Swype

iOS 8 was recently released for the iPad and the iPhone. Among the exciting new features of this operating system update is the ability to use a third-party keyboard in place of Apple’s stock keyboard. This allows users of the iPhone and iPad to now install a keyboard that can use new methods of inputting text to increase productivity. Busy legal professionals can now use keyboards from Swiftkey and Swype to quickly add or edit text by sliding their fingers across the screen.

I created a video that explains how to download, install, and activate both Swiftkey and Swype on your device. There are currently a number of free and paid keyboard apps available in the app store, but Swiftkey and Swype have been around for years on Android, and have had a head start in the field of creating alternative keyboards. Once you figure out how to install the keyboards, they are simple to use, and you always have the option of quickly switching back to Apple’s native keyboard.

My only complaint with the third-party keyboards thus far, is that you lose the ability to dictate when a third-party keyboard is selected. The little microphone that is usually present on the bottom of the screen goes away, and the only way you can get it back is to switch back to the native keyboard.

If you have updated your device to iOS 8, don’t delay, download a new keyboard and see how you like it!

Steven Butler EsquireThis post was written by Steven Butler. Steven is a full-time Delaware attorney that limits his practice to Social Security Disability. Along with being a contributor for iPlugDelaware, he is a partner at Linarducci & Butler, PA.

TrialPad for iPad is on Sale for $49.99 until August 24, 2014

TrialPad 4.0 for the iPad is on sale for $49.99 from August 21, 2014 until Sunday August 24, 2014. This is a rare sale for one of the most expensive apps on my iPad. TrialPad normally retails for $89.99. In my prior reviews of this app, I indicated that for $89.99, I felt the app was overpriced. Although $49.99 is still steep, if you believe that you may have the need to combine all your trial materials in one app, you will probably want to purchase it while it is on sale.

This sale was announced by Lit Software to members of their email list. Lit Software also publishes the popular TranscriptPad app. TranscriptPad is not currently on sale, but if you want to be notified of future news related to either of these apps, it pays to join the Lit Software mailing list (there is a place to register your email address on the Lit Software homepage).

Follow the Apple App Store link to download TrialPad now. See my review on TrialPad 4 on my Mobile 4 Law blog.

wpid-Photo-20140712231940.jpgThis post was written by Steven Butler. Steven is a full-time Delaware attorney that limits his practice to Social Security Disability. Along with being a contributor for iPlugDelaware, he is a partner at Linarducci & Butler, PA.

Microsoft Office Suite for iPad Updated: Export to PDF!

Microsoft Updates Office for iPad

Microsoft released the first major update for Office for the iPad on July 31, 2014. Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel all received updates. Most notable for all three apps is the ability to export to PDF and to use third-party fonts. Each app also gained the ability to crop photos that are being used (you could previously add photos to each, but you were unable to crop).

Microsoft PowerPoint 1.1 for iPad Presenter View Screenshot

Microsoft PowerPoint added important presentation features for attorneys. You now have the ability to view and edit speaker notes, see your next slide and jump to others slides while presenting. Media (video and audio) can be played while presenting now, and videos can be added from your camera roll. It will be nice for attorneys using PowerPoint for presentations and trials to now be able to fully control slides in any order.

Microsoft Excel also added more support for PivotTables, external keyboards, and cell selection. You can now flick a cell’s selection handle to select all data in a row or column. All the same keys that you use on a desktop version of Excel are also now supported for the iPad version of Excel when using an external keyboard. Finally PivotTables can be modified when source data is in the same workbook.

Microsoft Word was the most boring of the updates. The major addition to Word is the ability to send as PDF, use third-party fonts, and to crop photos. These features were also added to the other apps in the Office for iPad suite.

Send as PDF in Microsoft Word

It is nice to see that Microsoft continues to make the apps in the Office Suite better for the iPad. I am disappointed that Microsoft still hasn’t added “Open In” support for these apps, but you still have the option of launching Microsoft One Drive, and using “Open In” to export documents to other apps on your iPad.

As reminder, these apps are free to download from the Apple App store, but you must have a subscription to Microsoft Office 365 to use all the features. (You can use each app as a viewer for free, but you need a subscription to create and edit documents). Microsoft offers in-app purchase of an Office 365 subscription, or it can be purchased directly from Microsoft or third-party resellers. Amazon currently has one year subscription keys available for as inexpensive as $64.00. Office 365 Home 1yr Subscription Key Card

Readdle Celebrates 7 Years by Having a Big Sale

Readdle 7 Year SaleiOS App maker Readdle is currently celebrating its 7th anniversary by offering deep discounts on some of its most popular apps. PDF Expert 5, a great universal PDF viewing and annotating app for iPhone and iPad is being offered at $4.99, 50% off of its standard price of $9.99. This is also your opportunity to get other great apps from Readdle, including Scanner Pro ($2.99), PDF Converter ($1.99), and Printer Pro ($2.99). These are all on my list of highly recommended apps for any attorney that wants to use their iOS device for productivity.

The sale will only last for 48 hours (according to Apple Insider the sale will end at 1:00 am eastern time Saturday August 2, 2014), so don’t wait to add these apps to your device.

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