A selection of useful iPad apps

The rise of iPad adoption by legal professionals (see this article and this survey) is largely because it is so light and easy to carry around. The tablet can also be a useful way for translators to store and access a wide selection of documentary resources, including (heavy!) dictionaries offline wherever they are. In the academic world, uptake seems more limited for the moment, but there is a wealth of tools that researchers could take advantage of, as you will see below.

Hopefully this post will give you a few new ideas. I have included only those apps that I find really useful, but of course there are many more, including in other languages. Do share your favourites with us by adding a comment below this post or sending me an email.


By using the iPad Dropbox app, a lawyer can carry client files to court using the iPad rather than carrying paper files. Translators can use Dropbox either to access work in several locations, or to share large files with agencies or clients. Researchers can use the service to share files with colleagues, and access large files whilst travelling. Using Dropbox also frees up space on your hard disk or mobile device. Personally I love being able to use certain files whether I’m on my laptop, desktop or iPad, and know that the latest version will be updated seamlessly without having to worry about copying files from one place to another.

This exceptionally useful app allows you to sync your lists, notes, ideas and web clippings across your iphone, iPad and desktop computer and have them at your fingertips at all times. You can also add voice memos and images. I am eternally grateful to my friend Anne for introducing me to Evernote a few months ago. Your productivity and organization will improve immediately! The website is a goldmine of ideas on how to make the most of the app in many different spheres.

GoodReader has earned its accolades by the way it handles huge PDF and TXT files, manuals, large books, magazines, and renderings of 100 mb and more with great speed. The ability to mark-up PDFs opens up new doors to GoodReader users who can now use typewriter text boxes, sticky notes, lines, arrows, and freehand drawings on top of a PDF file.” This app is also particularly robust and reliable.

Quickoffice Pro HD
Quickoffice enables you to create, edit and share Microsoft Office documents, spreadsheets and presentations. For the moment, Microsoft has not provided an iPad version of their Office suite.

Air Sharing
Air Sharing is a robust and reliable app that makes it easy to transfer files to your iPad. It can handle all sorts of file formats. I also find it useful for videos that I don’t want to store in iTunes.

This app is a document manager for the iPad which saves documents so they can be accessed anywhere. ReaddleDocs can access PDFs, MS Office documents (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), Apple iWork files, and any other document converted to PDF. PDFs in ReaddleDocs can be highlighted using multiple colors, and notes can be added directly to the files. Files can be uploaded or downloaded using file sharing services such as Dropbox, GoogleDocs, MobileMe, and iDisk. As an iPad app for lawyers, ReaddleDocs is a great tool for reading and marking depositions and trial transcripts.

iThoughts HD
iThoughts HD is the most user-friendly mindmapping app I have found so far. I use it to brainstorm ideas for research, but the sky’s the limit! You can add icons and images, and maps can be exported as PDF, exchanged with other programs, or printed.

SG Project
This excellent project management tool allows you to organize tasks and groups of tasks. You can switch between or mix two views – lists of tasks or timeline form. SG Project uses colour effectively and is very easy to reorder and edit. I find that the basic version is more than sufficient for my needs, but large teams of people or firms may require the Pro version.

Air Video
Air Video can handle all kinds of video file formats with no fuss. You can access content from your desktop on the iPad over WiFi or remotely, but I mainly use the conversion function for use offline, far cheaper than desktop conversion programs. Note: to view, you need to add videos to iTunes and sync back to the iPad once converted.

If you have to work in a noisy environment, or while travelling with loud neighbours, this little gem, available for iPhone or iPad, plays sound to mask distracting noise by automatically adapting its volume, pitch and tone in response to the noise around you. SoundCurtain has a selection of harmonics to choose from and works fine with standard earphones.


Black’s Law Dictionary
This app earns first place for being even better than the excellent print version of Black’s Law Dictionary. Apart from its portability (the print version weighs 3 kg), you can search far more quickly, have it always to hand, the hyperlinked cross-references allow you to go quickly to other entries and it even has audio pronunciation for words. It retains full functionality offline.

Burton’s Legal Thesaurus
Once again an app which is even better than its outstanding print counterpart, in my opinion Burton’s Legal Thesaurus is indispensable for those writing or translating legal documents into English.

Just some examples: the French Code Civil, Code de procédure civile, Code Pénal, Code de procédure pénale and the Code de propriété intellectuelle are each available as an app. The firm Intermundia offers apps containing Swiss, German, Italian and Brazilian legislation. For Canada, the Civil Code of Québec is available as a bilingual app. Whilst these apps may not always contain the most up-to-date version of legislative provisions, they are certainly a very handy initial indication.

Books of Jargon
Latham & Watkins LLP, the prestigious global law firm, has published three apps reflecting the online editions of The Book of Jargon™: Corporate and Bank Finance, Project Finance, European Capital Markets and Bank Finance. They are intended to assist in learning (or re- learning) to ‘talk the talk’ of banking, capital markets and project finance. Useful for recent business or law school graduates, or perhaps not-so recent graduates, as well as translators working into English. The apps are also free of charge!


ITunes U
Watch online seminars, archived lectures or webinar recordings in comfort or when travelling. “More than 800 universities have active iTunes U sites. About half of these institutions — including Stanford, Yale, MIT, Oxford, and UC Berkeley — distribute their content publicly on the iTunes Store“. Research departments can also create their own iTunes U site and use it as a platform to distribute learning materials.

Tara Brabazon, Professor of Communication at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, writing for the Times Higher Education website, first brought ProPrompter to my attention. If you like to use notes when presenting a paper or lecturing, you will love this app. You can adjust the speed of scrolling, the way words are presented on screen, include cues and much more.

Digital note-taking with sound
AudioNote  leverages the audio recording function of the iPad so that when you are taking notes during a presentation, meeting or lecture they are synchronized with audio. You can also add doodles or sketches. When you tap on a word the app will jump to that point in the audio.

This wonderful, award-winning software (for Mac), Papers by Mekentosj, allows you to constitute an electronic research library that you can easily search and annotate. It is also possible to search repositories from within the program for articles, download and organize them together with supplementary material. You can read documents in full screen, highlight and keep notes, sync them between the desktop and your iPad app, cite them in your favorite word processor, share them with colleagues, and much much more. Two examples: the match function which automatically searches the web for reference metadata, and the direct patent search.

An alternative to Papers if you don’t have a Mac (poor you!) or if you like to keep your articles in the cloud, or even if you just want to take advantage of the automated citation and reference organization features. As well as running on the iPad and as a web-based service, free software is available for Windows, Linux & Mac desktops, and you can therefore sync your content across platforms. You can create a profile, join research groups (as yet quite limited) and search Mendeley for articles in its growing linked catalogue which currently stands at almost 33 million papers.

Just a reminder that, as is well known, you can also read books on the iPad, using the iBooks app or the Amazon Kindle app. Unlike paper books, electronic versions have the added advantage of a text search tool and the option to highlight text or insert notes.


Here I’ll just cite a few of the many dictionary apps available.

Ultralingua produce dictionary apps with various language pair combinations from the following – English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin Chinese, Russian and Norwegian (and even Klingon!).

I love the elegant visual interface of Terminology. It is fast and efficient, giving English definitions, synonyms and antonyms as well as related words. Now also has a direct in-app link to the online Wordnik dictionary.

The Larousse dictionnaire illustré app (in French only) is fantastic value and has beautiful graphics. It includes a dictionary, thesaurus, an atlas and biographies. The proverbs and sayings section is inspirational – coloured phrases flow out of the screen and by clicking on a phrase you can look up its origin.

7 thoughts on “A selection of useful iPad apps

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