Obama deserves to get in your iPhone

Posted in technology at 6:04 pm by rachel

iPhone applications are really starting to piss me off. I’m not talking about the good ones, that are actual client applications for their webservice counterparts (Facebook’s app is a good example) – those are great. I’m talking about the ones that are glorified shortcuts to mobile-formatted websites. (Yes, Bank of America, I am calling you out. What the hell is that about?) A lot of the iPhone apps that big companies have been launching quite frankly suck.

So when I heard about the “Obama ’08” application, my expectations were very low. I was expecting a mobile version of the website, maybe a streamlined donation interface, and probably some “go vote! go vote now!” nagging.

But the Obama campaign actually used this app to introduce completely new, phone-specific features. The one that blew me away was that the Obama ’08 app tells you who you already know in battleground states by scanning the area codes of the numbers in your contacts list. Then it offers one-touch shortcuts to call them or text them.

It also displays upcoming local events based on your GPS (or tower location) information, some of which are immediately actionable (example: sign waiving today, 1 mile from here!), local campaign contacts, and provides quick access to talking points on major issues. Oh, and the UI is shiny and very consistent with the iPhone UX.

Apparently, it was developed very quickly by a self-organized group of volunteers.

In short, they did it right. Get this app on your phone, see where your disproportionately important friends are, then talk to them about Obama (and make sure they’re registered!)

Check it out: Obama ’08 App for iPhone


  1. Jonathan Wight said,

    October 5, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks! It was a lot of fun developing it. A bit stressful too.

    We’re hoping to get into #1 position on the Apple store soon. That’s going to require more work, both coding (fix them bugs) and promotional.

  2. Julia said,

    October 5, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    Wow, sounds like a really cool app. If I had an iPhone, I would totally get this!

    I also find it an interesting commentary on how politics is utilizing technology. “Grassroots” efforts are increasingly high-tech. While I think it’s cool, does it not also emphasize the power of the well-off, while ignoring the power of those who can’t afford the latest piece of technology?

  3. rachel said,

    October 6, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    @Jonathan Wight – Thanks for dropping by! Good luck getting up to #1 – I’ll keep helping spread the word.

    @Julia – I think the alliding of “grassroots” with high-tech stuff really took of (at least in the US) with Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in ’04. There was a lot of rhetoric around “let’s show them! all our powers combined, we are The Internet!” You’re right that this is a step forward in that iPhone owners are a much smaller (and more privileged) minority than “internet users” in general – but I don’t see it as replacing traditional grassroots organizing (ie, calling your friends who are in other states, because you generally know where your friends live, because you are not a tool).

    Mostly, though, it’s just one more way to get more people involved. And it’s targetting hip, well-connected young professionals (you know, if I say so myself) – which is a demographic with lots of networking power. Smart move, yeah?

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