June 24th, 2010
Kicking ass: Portland’s Small Society and Urban Airship help bring Democratic National Committee iPhone/iPad app to life
Now as many of you know, a good chunk of the development team for original political iPhone app—the Obama iPhone app—lived right here in Portland. And the positive reception that app and its developers received is likely one of the reasons that Portland continues to prosper as a hub for mobile development.
But clearly Portland mobile folks still have a little politics in their veins. You see, now some of the Obama app folks have teamed up with some other Portland mobile folks. And they’ve come up with yet another awesome app. This time for a much larger entity than a single candidate or campaign. Today, Portland-based Small Society and Urban Airship announced the release of the Democratic National Committee iPhone/iPad app.
Long story short, the app is designed to help individuals get more involved in campaigns and causes that are important to them. And to make the Democratic National Committee more accessible to the voting public.
This is the first mobile app released by the Democratic Party, and the first iPad app ever released by a political party, committee or candidate. We’ve taken the successful Obama ’08 app and improved it, giving supporters great new ways to participate from wherever they are.
Using the app’s calling feature, you can make your voice heard on the issues and campaigns that matter to you. You can find local events in your area and connect with other grassroots Democratic supporters. And you’ll get access to the latest photos, videos, and political news.
The app will also allow users to get alerts and news, find local grassroots events, browse pictures and video, review party platform information on campaigns and issues, place calls directly to congress, and of course donate to the Democratic Party. It also provides the ability to connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts to the app, enabling you to share information with your social networks.
Small Society puts its stamp on another political app
It seems appropriate that Small Society played a role in building this app, given that part of the inspiration for starting Small Society, at all, was the effort on the Obama app.
And according to Small Society, it was a very collaborative effort:
Working with a strong technical and creative team out of the DNC headquarters in DC, this project represents how you can bring a robust app to life for both the iPhone and the iPad in just a few months. For us at Small Society, it’s also personally significant in coming full circle since our founder Raven Zachary directed the official Obama ‘08 for iPhone project in the 2008 election season for the Obama Campaign. The launch of the Obama app in October 2008 directly lead to the creation of Small Society, and it is our privilege to be asked by the DNC to help them with the creation of this new pair of apps.
Another interesting component of the Democratic Party app is some new functionality from the folks at Urban Airship called AirMail. While AirMail has been around in private beta for awhile, this is one of the first instances of the functionality in the wild.
What is AirMail exactly? It’s like an inbox for push notifications. But it also adds functionality that allows apps to deliver rich content to users. Kind of like the leap from text based email to HTML email.
App users receiving an AirMail message receive a standard push notification on their smartphone. What happens next is the AirMail magic. When the user “views” the push, instead of launching the app and going to the app home page, users land on the AirMail message. The message itself will look more like a graphic-rich webpage or an Email. It may contain video or audio; it might display a special coupon or offer; it could display an interactive map of your nearest outlet; it might ask your user to take an action, such as enter a PIN to complete a mobile payment transaction, or accept a meeting request, or register their name on a petition. What it will definitely do is make an impression. And it will do all this without the user ever needing to launch your app.
Getting involved with the Democratic Party app
The Democratic Party app is free, designed to work with both the iPhone/iPod Touch and the iPad, and currently available for download from the Apple App Store.
For more information or to download the app, visit the Democratic Party app page.