The best mobile apps for political junkies

Dec 28, 2011
Tech

The Republican presidential primaries are just the opening act to what promises to be a fiery year in politics. Whether you are a hardcore politico who tracks every issue and debate, or need help choosing a side before an election or state primary/caucus, there are plenty top-of-the-ticket mobile apps to help guide the way. So, […]

The Republican presidential primaries are just the opening act to what promises to be a fiery year in politics. Whether you are a hardcore politico who tracks every issue and debate, or need help choosing a side before an election or state primary/caucus, there are plenty top-of-the-ticket mobile apps to help guide the way.

So, vote with your thumbs and download any of these five apps right away.

Politifact Mobile (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android: $1.99)

Dyed in the wool republicans and bleeding heart liberals have at least one thing in common; their desired candidates don’t always have a firm grasp of the truth. Thankfully there are mobile apps like Politificact to help keep our existing and would-be elected officials honest. Mobile media extensions of the Pulitzer Prize winning PolitiFact.com, the iOS and Android apps feature a “Truth-O-Meter” that tracks if a particular statement is “True,” “Mostly True,” Half True,” “Mostly False” and my favorite “Pants on Fire.” Candidates, political committees and even First Lady Michelle Obama are scrutinized and ultimately given Report Cards. PolitiFact also tracks an elected official’s adherence to campaign promises, and includes additional features like a Truth Index and Flip-O-Meter.

Slate Magazine (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android: Free)

Slate Magazine helped to pioneer online publishing more than a decade-and-a-half ago. So it should be not surprise Slate is also a leader in mobile media distribution. The publication’s free and distinct applications for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices offer a fun mix of articles, audio podcasts and videos. The weekly Political Gabfest podcast is a must-listen for political junkies and others who want a different take on elections and issues than what is found on 24-hour cable networks and Sunday Morning shows. Slate also offers great coverage of culture, technology and sports. Another mobile app with great political podcasts and available on iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices comes from Santa Monica-based National Public Radio affiliate KCRW. The Left, Right and Center program is probably the best in the business.

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FOX News (iPhone/iPod Touch (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android: Free)

No mainstream media outlet pays more attention to the Republican primaries than FOX News. The FOX News mobile apps feature a nice combination of breaking news and video excerpts from popular programs like The O’Reilly Factor, Hannity, and Fox News Sunday. The app also carries a live feed and schedule of FOX News Radio.

C-SPAN RADIO (iPhone, iPod Touch: Free)

If you are interested in seeing politicians and candidates in action without political commentators laying in their own punditry, than C-SPAN is the information source for you. The cable network’s app for the iPhone and iPod Touch delivers live audio streams on congress and major national speeches. The C-SPAN Radio app also carries the weekly programs Washington Journal and Book TV.

Congress (iPhone, iPod Touch: $0.99, iPad: $4.99)

The occupant of the White House in 2013 is not the only thing that will be decided in this election year. Every member of the House of Representatives and several Senators are up for reelection. Want to track the voting record, social media presence and financial benefactors of your elected official? A variety of Congress apps are here to help. The Congress and Congress+ apps developed by the Cohen Research Group are your best bet for iOS devices. Android owners should check out the Congress app developed by Sunlight Labs. Contacting your (or any) elected official through the apps are also better alternatives than giving them your two cents via snail mail.

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NYTimes Election 2012 (iPhone, iPod Touch: Free)

This new app from the New York Times features a combination of political news reporting, opinion and national as well as state-by-state polling information. There is also a schedule of state primaries and a slick multimedia section that features slide shows and compelling videos.

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Brad Spirrison

Brad Spirrison is the managing editor of appoLearning and Appolicious Inc. In this capacity, he has sampled and evaluated thousands of iOS and Android applications. He also holds an M.A. in Education and Media Ecology from New York University.

Spirrison worked in concert with appoLearning Expert and Instructional Technology Specialist Leslie Morris while curating and evaluating educational applications.

A longtime media and technology commentator and executive, Spirrison is also a regular contributor to ABC News, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Bloomberg West and The Christopher Gabriel Program.

Spirrison is married and lives with his wife and young son in Chicago. As his son was born just weeks before the debut of the iPad, Spirrison takes his work home with him and regularly samples and enjoys a variety of educational applications for young children.

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