Navigating the DNC? Apps can help with that: a review

Phoebe Connelly
The Ticket

Last week we walked you through four apps released by political organizations and news outlets to help you navigate the storm-threatened Republican National Convention. Now we're back with a look at the apps designed for viewers and attendees of the Democratic National Convention, which begins Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C. To save you a click-through, we've included the reviews of the two apps discussed last week that have Charlotte functionality.

While we've taken a look at these apps on an iPhone, all of them are also available for Android. Happy downloading!

DNC 2012 (Democratic National Convention Committee)

We're sad to report that the DNC's official app suffers from the same excess of navigation presented by the RNC's app last week—each tab along the bottom will present you with new menu options along the top. They've made the questionable choice of giving the schedule as a non-mobile optimized page that you need a connection to load.

The real fun comes in the "Charlotte" section of the app, where you can navigate extracurricular activities grouped under labels ranging from Faith & Worship to Music Fan to (wait for it) Hipster. Handy dials let you indicate how much time you have available and how far you're willing to travel.

They've also innovated in the maps department, offering overlays of user-generated tweets and user-shared finds on the standard Charlotte map.

Grade: A-
Get it for: Experience dials and the user finds
Download it

DNC 2012 (The Charlotte Observer)

Hot tip for differentiating this app from the previous, with which it shares a name: The official DNC app uses a version of the Obama logo as its icon, while the local paper has gone with a text-based icon.

The icon is a foreshadowing of what lies inside: The app is extremely text-heavy. We were delighted by the engaging color of the local weather reports but sad that the "protests" navigation took us to write-ups of local protests, not a list of locations and times.

The road closures section is handy—giving updated, image-based maps showing blockades each day. (But you'll need a connection to load them.)

They are also being vigilant about updating their party galleries and write-ups. Reporters stuck on deadline and convention widows can relive the fun vicariously.

Grade: C
Get it for: Weather reports, party coverage
Download it: Apple | Android

Re:Con 2012 (National Journal)

This app features by far the cleanest navigation of the four apps—you can toggle between Tampa (red background for the RNC) and Charlotte (blue for the DNC) and then sort through news, schedule, city information and photos. The news feed is all National Journal content, and the schedule features non-official events.

The City Info button is a gold mine. National Journal has teamed up with indie-goes-limo car service Uber to provide service at both conventions. You'll find a shortcut to the Uber app experience built into Re:Con. Be warned, though: Thanks to local regulations, the minimum charge for an Uber in Tampa is a prohibitive $50.

But if you're looking for places to eat, Zagat provides dining recommendations, sorted into meal types—from Leisurely Lunches to Deal-Closing Dinners.

View photos

Journalists and delegate groupies may appreciate the alphabetical-by-state listing of delegate hotels (though we would have appreciated the ability to sort by location). And National Journal has thoughtfully provided the phone numbers for key figures in the Charlotte Host Committee and the Democratic National Convention Committee.

Grade: A+
Get it for: The Uber app if you aren't already a user, the delegate hotel list, various Charlotte Host Committee members' phone numbers
Download it

Floor Pass (CNN and Time)

When you sign into this app you're asked to declare your home state, then you are granted a badge. CNN/Time partnered with Bump (an app that allows you to exchange info and photos by touching phones) and if you find others who also have Floor Pass installed, you can "bump" to exchange badges. Genius.

Under "speeches" you'll find the VP and candidate speeches from both '08 conventions—and it appears this section of the app will update with the new 2012 speeches each night. There's also a pleasing, albeit basic, Twitter filtering function that allows you to view tweets employing the official convention hashtag. Pro Twitter users will likely find it superfluous, but for those eavesdropping on the service, it's a nice shortcut.

There is a short list of downtown cafes, pharmacies and restaurants, which is available offline.

View photos

The "top five" section takes you to a vertiginous auto-scrolling newsprint-style layout of recent stories. We were baffled by the option to view Time's "Cover of the Day"—is the magazine going daily over the next two weeks? (Or perhaps featuring an online cover story each day?) As with National Journal promoting all its own stories, the news feed here is all Time/CNN content.

Grade: A-
Get it for: The Bump-badge game, speech transcripts
Download it