By Nerino Petro at 5 June, 2012, 10:59 am
Too often those of us that use Android smartphones and tablets often feel left behind when apps are released for Apple's iOS and not Android. This held true when Fastcase released its 2010 award-winning app for the iPhone. I am happy to report that this is been rectified with the release of the new free Android app for Fastcase today.
Once you install and register the app (free for anyone). you are presented with a simple and uncluttered home screen that presents you with three options: 1) search case Law; 2) search statues; or 3) browse statutes. Pressing the search case Law option takes you to the search screen where you enter all of your search criteria in one place. Here you enter your search term or citation, select the jurisdiction, set your date range if any, whether or not you want Authority Check active for citations within the search results and in the entire Fastcase database, the number of results returned and how you want the results to be displayed with the default being by relevance. All that is left is pressing the large green search button to start your search.
As a test, I entered "voter ID" as a search term, for the jurisdiction I selected Wisconsin with a start date of June 4, 2009 and then leaving rest of the search options set at their defaults. My search returned five results based on relevance showing the relevance in the top right corner and the Authority check results imeediately below that. Having the Authority Check results in such a prominent location is a very handy feature in my opinion as it allows you to visually check the authority status of the case. You can scroll through the list of cases and and select a case to read using your device's touchscreen.
With a case open, the bottom of the window contains arrows that allow you to quickly move between the cases returned in your search as well as a search selector and arrows that were not functioning on my Android 2.2 device. As with the iOS version of the app, you cannot print or e-mail your search results. However, Fastcase recetnly introduced its Mobile Sync from Fastcase ability which allows those that have a Fastcase account (either through purchase or your state or local bar association as a member benefit) to save cases from your search to your Fastcase account. You don't need a Fastcase account to use the app and search all of the statutes and caselaw – this is free. However, if you want to be able to print or email the case or statute, you can only do this thorugh a Fastcase research account. The State Bar of Wisconsin, along with a number of other State, local and specialty bar associations, provides its members with free Fastcase desktop research and a Fastcase account. To activate Mobile Sync for Fastcase, simply follow the directions here. When you have a case or statute open on your mobile devie, a round save button appears in the top right corner. With your Mobile Sync for Fastcase activiated, clicking the Save button saves the document to your Fastcase account. Your document or documents are now waiting for you in your Fastcase account to be printed or shared. Log into your Fastcase account from your web browser and then select My Library from the toolbar and then Go to Recent Documents; your saved documents will appear in the list.
While the version I tested was a pre-release version, version 1.0 is now available in the Google Play marketplace. With the release of their Android app, Fastcase maintains its its influence and dominance in the low-cost legal research market. Its ongoing release of features and apps continues to demonstrate the Fastcase commitment to innovation and making legal research easier and more cost-effective for its users. In my opinion, every lawyer that refers to statues or case law need to have this app on their Apple or Android device.