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Romney plans to announce VP running mate on new Android and iOS applications

by Brad Spirrison

Four years ago Barack Obama texted his selection of Joe Biden for vice presidential running mate. Next month, Mitt Romney plans to announce his pick via brand new Android and iOS applications.

Mitt’s VP, which was developed by Romney for President, Inc., will send an “exclusive” push Notification when the former Massachusetts governor is ready to share his selection with the world. The app also includes campaign news and links to merchandise sales.

The Obama campaign also this week released a brand new iOS application called Obama For America. Developed by the The Democratic Party, the app includes information about the president’s policy initiatives, curated news about the campaign, and links to donate including the ability to send money via an SMS message. An official Android application for the Obama campaign is also in the works.

Not their first efforts in the app stores

Mitt’s VP and Obama For America are not the first applications developed by each presidential campaign during this political season. Romney’s With Mitt iOS application allows users to super-impose playful campaign messages on top of pictures they take with their smartphones. Regrettably, for the Romney campaign and its supporters, that app is remembered more for butchering the spelling of America (“Amercia”) than anything else. Another iOS app developed by the Democratic National Committee called Obama 2012 is no longer available to download.

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As you might expect, the user reviews around Mitt’s VP and Obama For America have more to do with ideology and partisan flame wars than the production value of each application. Two higher profile 5-star reviews on the Google Play store for Mitt’s VP are headlined “Obama; a socialist Muslim from Kenya” and “Nobama.” Classy and creative, folks. Reviews for Obama For America on the iTunes App Store are primarily from gushing enthusiasts who appreciate a “One stop shop for all things Obama.”

Less biased options

While these official applications from the candidates are little more than well-produced media channels for propaganda and fundraising, there are several independent apps that let interested citizens tap into unfiltered information about the candidates, their promises and their policies.

The best is Politifact Mobile, the mobile extension of the Pulitzer Prize-winning site published by the Tampa Bay Times. The app, available for $1.99 on Android and iOS devices, features a Truth-O-Meter that vets major statements by each candidate (as well as major figures in the campaign). Ratings can range from “True” to “Pants on Fire”.

For those looking for more information about Senate and House of Representatives candidates, the free Congress app from Sunlight Foundation is your best bet. On iOS, check out the similar Congress application ($0.99 for iPhone and $4.99 for the iPad) from Cohen Research Group. The apps detail the voting records, campaign donations and staff of each existing member. The Congress apps also includes contact information and Twitter feeds when available.