Election fever: 6 mobile apps that can keep you informed
USA Election 2012 doesn't quite live up to its claim of giving you "all the information you'll need to make an informed decision about who to vote for in the 2012 Presidential Election," but that doesn't mean it's not interesting and fun to use.
The app gathers an array of data to keep you up to date on the election, including the latest results from polls and primaries, fundraising totals and sources, and election news from a handful of media outlets on both the left and right, including ABC News, Fox News and MSNBC.
Because USA Election 2012 pulls in information from a variety of sources, some sections are more current than others. For example, fundraising stats and summaries come from the New York Times, which releases quarterly updates -- so the figures shown through late January were dated Sept. 30. (The numbers have since been updated with the campaigns' official totals from Dec. 31.)
The news feeds are, of course, updated every few minutes, and the poll info, which is obtained from various polling agencies, is updated daily. On election nights (including primaries), USA Election 2012 is updated approximately every 15 minutes, according to the developer, Kurt Sparks.
There's also a section for the latest economic indicators such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and weekly jobless claims, and you can compare those stats with the same data from previous dates of your choosing -- last month, last year, 20 years ago. It's interesting information, but I don't quite follow how it's supposed to help me choose which candidate to vote for.
Finally, there's an interactive electoral map of the 50 states, colored red or blue by default based on whether they swung Republican or Democratic in the 2008 election. You can change the affiliation of any state (including making it Independent) to see how its electoral votes might affect the outcome of this year's election. Sparks promises more map options before the November elections, and says he's "toying with the idea of allowing the user to share their election night scenarios via social media or email."
Push notifications to alert users to new election info, more detailed campaign finance information, more news sources and full iPad support will also be added this year, says Sparks.
I did encounter one or two small annoyances, such as the app repeatedly asking for permission to access Twitter accounts when I clicked on news stories. (I meant it when I said no the first time -- please don't keep asking me!) But overall the app worked smoothly and mostly glitch-free.
While not quite as complete as it claims to be (summaries of where the candidates stand on key issues would be nice), USA Election 2012 does gather a wealth of election-related info. If you're undecided or simply want to follow the election in one convenient place, it's 99 cents well spent.
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