The Obama Administration has developed an app for the iPhone and iTouch that provides constituents with such features as news, web chats with Administration officials and live footage from the President's public events at the White House.
It joins a small but growing number of politically-oriented apps that range from fund raising to speech archiving to policy tracking. All of the apps, depending on their goals and audience, come with interactive features and, in the case of the Obama White House, live video streaming.
It also connects to the White House blog, as well as full videos from recent speeches, press briefings, and special events. Candidates in both parties have turned to Apple's App Store in recent months to appeal to prospective voters - and perhaps more importantly - keep their presence alive on constituent's mobile phones with frequent update.
California Senatorial candidate Al Ramirez, who is seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator from California in the June 2010 primary elections, has developed an app that features his views on issues and urges followers to donate to his campaign. He also has 194,210 followers on Twitter and is on their "People to Follow" list.
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California's Simi Valley also recently developed an app featuring printable speeches, sayings and photos of the "Great Communicator" to a new generation of voters.
"What's smart about it - and why you'll see it happen more and more - is that people are just living on their mobile devices," says Wade Randlett, a Silicon Valley Democratic activist and major fundraiser for President Obama. "They're giving up on laptops because the mobile device does everything you need." (via the San Francisco Chronicle).
"It lives on your phone, so you have it anytime and anywhere … and it gives people an opportunity to participate when they're ready," said Randlett. The Reagan Library also benefits - as do all political app developers - in that is provides it with information about followers and supporters, which is "political gold," Randlett says.
Other apps focus on policy issues, some quite sensitive. iPhone application iSinglePayer was approved last year after some reluctance on Apple's part due to its subject matter, according to the Capital Eye Blog.
It is a health care policy tool that features data from the Center for Responsive Politics to show how much money individual lawmakers have collected from the health sector.
Another new application is called Visible Vote. Made for the iPhone, Blackberry and Facebook , it allows users to track their representatives' voting records - and send an e-mail to let them know what you think. Users enter email addresses and zip codes. The app then retrieves the corresponding Senators and Representatives and a list of issues they've voted on recently.
Another iPhone application called Bailout Watch also tracks Congress – specifically the billions that have been injected into flailing industries. The application also provides a visual comparison of the bailout to other expensive endeavors in American history, such as the New Deal and World War II.
It also polls users regularly on their opinions of these bailouts.