Suppose you're a politically conscious Indian with a smartphone. With the general elections knocking on the doors, you might like to find out more about your favourite political party, where else, but on your mobile. While one can follow or like the party on social media with just a click, downloading your favourite party's official app isn't that simple. Here's a look at the apps of the three parties in the news these days. Aam Aadmi Party
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was arguably the first political outfit to properly use the power of social media. Even during the days of India Against Corruption, the outfit had a proper social media team in place. And, its effect shows in the party's app, which, incidentally, wasn't mentioned on the party's home page.
The Aam Aadmi Party app, which we tried out on Android, is slickly designed and easy to use, seamlessly making the transition between devices with various screen sizes. On opening the app, one is given the option of logging in with one's Facebook, Twitter or Google account, or log in as a guest.
The navigation was simple with the screen broadly divided into three shelves -news, videos and blogs. A simple touch brought up the menu that, besides displaying these three categories, also has links to donate (which advises you to donate on the website as one still can't do so on the mobile app), visit the party's Facebook page and three other links - support, which the site says is under construction and links to ebooks on Swaraj and Jan Lok Pal, none of which loaded at the time of this review.
But its quality of the app showed through in the little touches, the easy scrolling topics, videos automatically playing in landscape mode and regular push notifications for new items on the shelves as also the ability to share all items on Twitter or Facebook with just a click. It helps that AAP has so many supporters who design fan apps, but it would have been better if the party's official app could be easily identified.
Bharatiya Janata Party
We've heard the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is serious about embracing technology and we've seen its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and senior leader Sushma Swaraj, among others, quite active on Twitter.
The seriousness about technology shows as soon as one logs on to the party's website. At the top right corner there are neat links to apps for Android, BlackBerry, iTunes and Ovi devices.
So far, so good. Clicking on the iTunes link brought up the BJP for India app. The home page, besides the mug shots of Rajnath Singh, L K Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, has links to the latest available videos. Below, we have tabs for media (which bring up speeches and pictures); events (which also bring up the link to its leaders); join us (which also contains the link to donate); connect (which lets one connect to one's Facebook account and share the app's link via email); and more, which has links to information about the party and the option of providing feedback. Unfortunately, no version is available for the iPad.
The link to Google Play Store, for Android devices, threw up a plethora of options (including apps for state outfits of the party), with the link to the BJP 4 India app. On opening the app, one was asked to choose between English and Hindi and met with the familiar home screen. Then, it was an exercise in patience.
The various tabs were so small on the phone screen that one had to squint and tap with one's little finger to click on the right link.
Among the other apps the Android link threw up was one called BJP Connect, which starts with a nice animation of a lotus blooming. One needs to swipe left to right for screens: For example, the BJP screen has links to the party's history and leadership, among other things; the elections screen brings up a link to register to vote, join the party and poll booth info, among others; the social screen has links to the party on social media, besides the party's blog and the issues that matter page has links to videos of leaders, besides a survey, among other things. The menu brings up the option to download notifications or join the party with a missed call, besides a volunteer login. While the app provides a nice interface with the party, the application lacks interaction.
Another official-looking app we found on the Play Store is one called Mission 272+, the magic number needed in the Lok Sabha. Essentially an aggregator of feeds from the party and its leaders, the experience is somewhat marred by ads on the bottom panel. The app supports push notifications.
Besides these, there are many more fan-created content on the app stores, among which are many a Modi game.
Indian National Congress
Though a Congress minister was a pioneer in terms of using Twitter, the Grand Old Party seems remarkably reticent on apps. After searching high and low on the party website and on app stores, we went to the extent of asking friends who cover the Congress beat about the party's official app. Still we weren't sure if the Congress indeed had an official app.
We could have dropped an email to the party's media cell, but then that's not par for the course for a tech-savvy supporter. So, while we came across fan apps dedicated to party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi as well as some official-looking apps for the Congress and Gujarat Congress, we weren't quite sure (especially since the publisher had a similar app for the Samajwadi Party in its basket). We'll wait till we can access an app from the party, which at least calls itself the official one.