Monday, March 3, 2014

Mobile Apps for Legal Research #13: The White House App

The White House App is the official mobile app of the White House, home to the President of the United States. The federal government is embracing mobile technology and has released a variety of apps, such as the Library of Congress's Constitution Annotated and the NSA's CryptoChallenge. Many of these apps are surprisingly good. The White House App is no exception.

The White House App is available for both iOS and Android devices. I reviewed the app on an iPad. Not everything in my review will apply to the Android version of the app.

The White House App is designed for current awareness. It is a bit like a magazine for your mobile device. Through the app, you can access the latest news, pictures, and videos coming from President Obama and the White House. But there are no past issues with this app. News that isn't recent isn't available. If you want to dig into news about the president from more than 2 or three weeks ago, you'll need to look elsewhere.

Once I understood the purpose of the app, I liked it. In the app, you can access the latest posts on the White House blog, read through more official news from the briefing room, flip through publicity photos, and watch videos.



The content is not limited to the President. The White House press office covers the First Lady as well, so the app contains many stories, pictures, and videos featuring Michelle Obama.



If you want to stay abreast of the absolute latest information on the President, you can watch live streaming of White House events through the app. The app does not include a schedule of events, but it will notify you whenever an event starts.

As you read through news in the app, you can share the articles via email, Twitter, or Facebook. Or you can save them to your favorites list for easy return access.



Everything in the White House App is also available on whitehouse.gov, which you can easily access on your mobile device through your browser. But the app's content feels like it belongs on the mobile device, and whitehouse.gov doesn't. The app may not offer me more or different content, but it brings it to me better. When I open the app, I want to keep using it. The app captures the essence of the mobile experience in a way I can't explain, other than to say this app delivers the combination of simple and beautiful that is supposed to define the iPad.


While I like the White House App a lot, it isn't perfect. It offers a search, but the search redirects you to whitehouse.gov. Though you're still "within" the app, you leave the app's interface and go to the web interface.
Article accessed using search in the White House App


The same article viewed on whitehouse.gov in the browser



The app's search would be much more attractive if it let you view the articles you find in the native interface. As is, the search is close to no search at all.

Overall, I highly recommend the White House App. Whether you're a political junky whose day isn't complete until you've read all the news out of Washington, or you just want to see the occasional picture of the President shaking hands and kissing babies, or you fall somewhere in between, you'll find the White House App worth downloading.


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