Welcome to the Memorial Day Weekend edition of The Friday Tech Fix, featuring three stories from the consumer technology world lawyers need to know about. Although it was a pretty quiet week overall, there were nevertheless three stories that I think were pretty big. So let’s get started!
If you Virtually “Build” It, Will They Come?
This week Microsoft held its annual developer conference, Build, as a virtual event for the first time ever. Build is more for the developer geeks, but there were still a few interesting announcements to come out of the conference that should interest lawyers.
- The Fluid Framework is described by some as “Google Docs on steroids,” and it’s going to be a new way for people to collaborate on documents. But instead of a single document or spreadsheet, Fluid components will be like Legos, which allow you to insert text, charts, tables, lists, and anything anywhere you want, and share them instantly. Instead of inserting a static chart, you’ll have a dynamic chart that can be edited anywhere you paste it – and where you can see your collaborators editing it in real time – whether that’s in an email chain, a chat app, or even Word or Excel.
- Microsoft Lists is not a task manager, but an evolution of SharePoint lists, which some of you might have seen before. They are editable lists you can use within the Office 365 environment, that work much like an online database. The tool will come with a set of pre-configured templates specific use cases like onboarding new hires, event planning, managing assets, handling vacation requests, and more.
Why lawyers should care Microsoft has really stepped up its game the past few years in improving its software products, making them more connected, more relatable, and (yes, believe it or not) easier to use. Sorry to those of you using Google or Pages, but Microsoft 365 really leaves everything else in the dust when it comes to office productivity, and you owe it to your firm and your clients to at least check it out if you don’t already use it.
Making Twitter Less Troll-y
One of the things I dread most about using Twitter is that occasionally someone unpleasant will reply to one of my tech-related tweets with an unnecessary, inappropriate comment. I ignore a lot of them, but what I’d really like is not to see them at all. Now, Twitter is trying to make that possible: they are experimenting with new settings that would allow you to choose who can reply to your tweet and join your conversation. It sounds a little bit like Facebook’s feature that allows you to share with everyone, or only your friends.
Why lawyers should care The last thing anyone needs on Twitter, lawyers or otherwise, are trolls that make interacting on social media a depressing experience. For those of you who don’t engage much on Twitter, or maybe who are staying away for this reason, the ability to control who sees your posts could be enough to get you to check it out and engage with an online audience.
COVID-19 App Development Is Underway
I’ve reported a few times over the past few weeks about Apple and Google’s efforts to design a contract tracing API that will allow state health agencies to develop apps that can help trace those who have been infected with or exposed to COVID-19. Contract tracing is an important and necessary method to make sure we are able to better understand and control the spread of the virus, at least until a vaccine is available to help with immunity. Well, Apple and Google have rolled the API out to state developers, and so far only three states have signed on to the exposure notification system: Alabama, South Carolina, and North Dakota. Hopefully, more will follow. In the meantime, Apple updated iOS to version 13.5, with coronavirus exposure alert support.
Why lawyers should care If you believe in the idea that using technology to support contract tracing, then it makes sense to support what Apple and Google are trying to accomplish. Because I personally don’t believe fighting a virus should be politicized, I think that using technology in innovative ways to fight coronavirus should be encouraged and used wherever possible. But even if you fall down on the other side of this issue and think that such apps represent an invasion of our privacy, then you should care about how these apps are developed, rolled out, and used; rather than fight against them, why not support ways that these apps can help us, while still protecting our privacy. It doesn’t have to be an either/or.
Dropping down off my soapbox, and wishing you a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend – see you next week!