Now that Siri is available on Apple's iPhone 4S, and a host of similar personal assistant voice apps are available for Android phones, is it the end of the line for legal secretaries? Well no--let's not get ahead of ourselves. But Siri and its competitors do provide some nice assistance to the lawyer on the go.
How Siri Works
For those not yet familiar with Siri, it's an app that uses voice recognition software to understand your natural speech commands, and performs various tasks in response. When you finish speaking into your phone, Siri displays the text of what you said and provides a response. Siri works with other apps, and can figure out which apps to use to provide you with answers. If Siri needs more information to complete a request, it will ask you a question. Note that Siri does not work with iPhone models earlier than 4S.
The Android Alternatives
If you're carrying an Android phone, you can visit the Android Marketplace online to pick up an app that's similar to Siri. Many of the Android personal assistant apps are free, although some are more capable than others. Check out Speaktoit Assistant, Vlingo Virtual Assistant, Iris, EVA, Jeannie, Pocket Blonde, Omega, Skyvi, or Voice Actions Plus, among others.
Uses for Lawyers
- Get answers. If you'd like to do a Google search, for example: "Google search Cedar Rapids Farsi interpreter."
- Retrieve information from your phone. "Who is the paralegal at Greene and Greene?"
- Place a call without dialing. You can tell the app to call someone whose name is in your contacts, specifying home, work, mobile, etc. if you've got multiple numbers for that person. "Call Richard Link at his office."
- Text or e-mail without typing. "E-mail Gabrielle Yount Thanks for getting back to me"
- Leave yourself a voice note. "Note Supreme Court granted cert in Leonardo last week."
- Set up a reminder. "Remind me to register for AAJ conference by Friday March 9."
- Add to your To-Do list. You may need to first set up a To-Do list within your reminders. Then you can say "Add call Perry Walkins to To-Do list."
- Get directions. If you're phone has a GPS chip so it knows where you are: "How do I get to the County Recorder's Office in Norwalk from here?"
- Schedule something on the calendar. "Add calendar entry Monday June 18 Carson motion to foreclose mechanic's lien."
- Post to Twitter and Facebook. Some apps have this capability built in, while others, like Siri, require a work-around. "Facebook status update We are pleased to announce that Asha Khan has joined the firm"
- Wake yourself up: "Set alarm for 8 a.m. Eastern."
The better personal assistant apps are capable of all the tasks described above and many more, but the actual voice commands may vary. Check on the app's compatibility with other productivity apps installed on your phone, as that may expand the range of what you're able to do.