Technology Practice Tips: Inputs-to-Devices (transcript)


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Phil Brown:                Hi, it’s Phil Brown and I’m here with David Whelan and today we’re going to talk about inputs to your various devices.

David Whelan:           Everybody uses a keyboard, that’s not a big deal but with more and more devices coming along, phones and tablets and so on, we really have more choices for the type of input we use. And for a while, the hot topic in legal technology for input was voice recognition, which is pretty much Nuance, Dragon Dictate.

But there are also some other odds and ends you can do to change how you do input on your phone or your tablet or even now with touch screen laptops on your computer. That might be a better match for how you want to work or how you prefer to work. And get you away from just having to do touch typing on a keyboard.

Phil Brown:                And a number of these other types of keyboards, whether they’re virtual keyboards or expanded keyboards, are third party add-on software. And the proviso would be you know be careful about what you’re adding on to your device from another party and make sure you read those click through agreements when you add them.

David Whelan:           Yeah. One of the best examples I think is the app keyboard that you can now get for any Android phone and I think certainly the latest iPhones have allowed you to add different types of keyboards. And so beyond just having a little chiclet where you click, click, click to type into it and for someone like me, I’ve got big hands. And so those keyboards have always been a little bit frustrating to me.

I like the ones where the keys would actually get bigger depending on what letters you type -- sort of predictive. It’s really that predictive part. Now I can drag my finger across, swiping across many different keys and it used to be that I had to get a Swype app to do swiping. But now, my Samsung keyboard supports it, my Google keyboard supports it and I just swipe across all the letters and crams them altogether and makes the best guess for what kind of word I put in there.

Phil Brown:                And I happen to have Swype on my phone. And you’re not just swiping, you’re never lifting your finger all the keyboard. And it’s paired with a predictive typing aspect to it as well and if it hasn’t come up with the exact word you were typing, there’s two or three options in blocks that you could just tap and it will put that word into your text for you.

David Whelan:           It reminds me a lot of early days of voice recognition because my daughter’s name never comes up quite right when I first do it. And it always guesses something like Chilean, some similar word. It’s just like voice recognition in that way. It will always give you a word and so you need to be a little bit careful when you’re writing out messages, particularly if it’s an email or something more in detail than like an SMS text message that you’re actually getting the words that you want to get before you hit the send or getting the right address from your contacts so that you’re that sending the right message to the right person.

Phil Brown:                And it’s learning so if you get your daughter’s name right once, typically when you’re trying to get it in again, it would have learned that and one of the ways that it learns that is it’s harvesting your text.

David Whelan:           Yeah and so it’d be looking. And you can opt in and opt out. If you install a keyboard app, don’t go too fast through the installation process and make sure you know what you’re opting in for and opting out of. A lot of these apps will centralize all of the words so that you are in essence improving the experience for every keyboard app user from the same app provider. And you may not want that to happen.

You may not want to be sending those words even as single words and not actual communications across the internet to where these servers are. And you can also go through and delete on a regular basis whatever has accumulated. So if you are concerned that it’s either starting to get words wrong or the way you’ve started to type has changed, you can wipe out the data that’s stored on your phone.

Phil Brown:                As well there are some voice apps as well you mentioned Nuance. There’s also Siri and Cortana and some of those. And they also do some predictive typing as well.

David Whelan:           My theory is that Nuance is gathering together all of the voices from all over the world, everything you say into a device is eventually going to end up on a server owned by Nuance. It’s interesting to sort of distinguish those Siri and Cortana are mostly recognizing a command or a brief question in order to do something.

And you’ll find very quickly that Siri starts to cop a bit of an attitude when you’re asking it or talking to it a lot, where Dragon Dictate, you really can speak a whole paragraph of text and convert it.

Phil Brown:                And I don’t know if Dragon Dictate is still a free app for the iPhone but it certainly was a free app for the iPhone and in terms of predictive texting and typing, it’s bang on with everything I do as opposed to Siri, which never has a clue what it is I’m saying. And if I’m looking for something on my phone, it always sends me to the web and tries to look up the weather when I’m trying to find a recently read novel. Siri and I just don’t mesh.

David Whelan:           And that’s something to keep in mind. If you decide to go for one of these keyboard app or voice app, it may take a little bit of time for it to become something you’re comfortable using. I sometimes get frustrated, I just added a new phone recently. So now my experience on my tablet is different from my experience on my phone and so I have to watch more carefully when I’m swiping keys on the phone because I’m getting different words or I’m getting different suggestions.

And so you can think about turning off some of these helping tools like maybe you don’t want autocorrect always to come on because it’s autocorrecting the wrong word, essentially it’s changing the word you wanted it to be and putting it as something that it knows is in this dictionary.

So you can turn off auto correction, you can turn off some of the prediction where it’s guessing what your next letter’s going to be or guessing what your next word’s going to be. So you can turn off some of these functions so that at least when you’re getting started, you are getting the results you are expecting.

Phil Brown:                And I’m sure some of us have encountered that when you’re trying to send an email to someone, it predictively finishes the email for you and then you end up sending it to six of the wrong people.

David Whelan:           The upside is that people have started to expect bad typing in short emails, so that’s good. And I know some people who actually say, “Sent from my iPhone.” Even if it’s not sent from their iPhone because it excuses them from having poor typing. So that’s okay. You obviously don’t want to share confidential information but if it’s just a matter of penmanship, that’s not so awful.

Phil Brown:                So besides the software inputs we have devices, there’s also wireless inputs as well.

David Whelan:           Yes, you could have a Bluetooth or other wireless connection for a mouse or for a keyboard. I’ve always been on the fence about that because it just seems like another thing I’ve got to put batteries in. But some people like it, certainly gives you a little bit of flexibility about not having to plug in to your computer or whatever it is or to be able to reuse those devices or perhaps something that isn’t a computer.

So I have a Bluetooth keyboard for my tablet, which I use occasionally but I prefer over having to do what is a relatively slow onscreen keyboard input.

Phil Brown:                And like any wireless device that you’d be using, it’s always a good idea to tweak the security to make sure that someone’s not intercepting all of your keystrokes.

David Whelan:           Yes, if you are using something that can transmit over a network, even if it’s a personal area network like Bluetooth, it means that other people can listen to it as long as it’s not a direct wire connection.

Phil Brown:                And styluses, another input as well for tablets, computers, these days.

David Whelan:           Yes, if you’re a big stylus user or if you think you’re going to be a stylus user, it is worth spending a little bit of extra money and I literally mean $20, $30, to get the tablets that are designed to be used with styluses and I’ll talk about the Samsung Notes. I’m sure that there’s plenty of others.

But Samsung has a note tab which comes with its own little S pen and then it has a different line of tablets. The ones with the S pens actually have technology from a tablet or a stylus provider called Wacom. And so although the tablet with these S pens is actually a little bit more expensive.

The writing on it is excellent because you get what’s called palm rejection, where if you put your hand down on the screen and then start writing, your tablet doesn’t know is it the flat part of your palm that’s supposed to be making the mark or the pen. But the slightly more expensive tablets that have palm rejection will be very, very good and are as far as I’m concerned, as good as a yellow pad or any other writing surface for writing.

But if you get a tablet that doesn’t have that and then just buy even a Wacom stylus, your experience is not going to be anywhere near as good. So if you’re really interested in using a stylus, it’s not a matter of just getting a really stylus. You sometimes will need to get a tablet that is designed to reject your palm.

Phil Brown:                And some of those stylus that are available are – I mean some are now available just for particular apps like Paper 53 as their own pencil stylus, which is I think priced around $90. And I think is probably unnecessary. But I haven’t used it, I shouldn’t say that.

And a lot of those styluses are pressure sensitive or when being used in conjunction with your tablet or phone can be pressure sensitive so that you can make a darker line without selecting a bold option. You just press a little harder and it will give you a darker line or a wider line or things like that.

David Whelan:           Yes. And I’ve used an S pen and I’ve used just a regular – the cheapy stylus from Bamboo, the Wacom Bamboo stylus. And you get really, really good feel for as if you’re writing with a pen or a pencil. It’s incredible really how it is sensitive that way.

And so if your only experience with a stylus that you’ve had is a CHotKey from a conference that sort of has a rubber tip on the end, and you’re interested in having more of a stylus experience then I would spend $15 or $20 at least to get into the better styluses that are out there.

And then if you find that you really are trying to replace yellow pads and things with a tablet then go to a tablet that is designed to be used with a handwriting device. And this isn’t just for tablets and phones. Wacom has a tablet that you can plug in that’s about $40-$50 that will plug into your laptop or computer and you can actually then do all the writing and work right onto your computer that you would have done onto a tablet screen.

Phil Brown:                And they also have a $2,300 or $2,400 version, widescreen, which you can essentially as your computer screen, which can tilt in the angle and write on the same as you would write on a computer screen.

David Whelan:           They’re beautiful. They really are lovely. But not necessarily always practical for a lawyer.

Phil Brown:                No, but widescreen, high def and you can do courtroom presentations and things like that on them as well. The other input I wanted to mention since you mentioned yellow tablets and so on, there are pens available that will store and convert your information as you write on a specifically enabled pad that will convert things to your writing to text and dump it into your computer as well.

David Whelan:           It’s a great time for lawyers because we spend so much time creating documents. And sometimes we’re doing that with a pen like device and sometimes we’re typing it in. But there are so many choices and I think it really is a matter of figuring out are you going to use the keyboard plus the touch screen.

And I think there are some issues about getting your hands going up from the keyboard to touch screen and back again or using a stylus whether it’s with your computer or your tablet. There’s some really interesting ways where you can become more efficient with a very small tweak to a keyboard or an app on whichever device you’re using that’ll really make you enjoy your practice a little bit more.

Phil Brown:                No, and I think there’s a number of options and different software keyboards and hardware keyboards these days. You should be able to find something that works best for you.

David Whelan:           It’s a great time.

Phil Brown:                That’s our looks at inputs to device. Thanks, David.

David Whelan:           Thanks, Phil.

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