‘Pope App’ brings Vatican to the palm of your hand

By  Beatriz Jereza, Youth Speak News
  • February 15, 2013

App takes cues from Facebook and Twitter

The “Pope App,” released on Jan. 23 for iPhone and iPad, turned my skepticism into genuine surprise. The app’s features are intriguing and work seamlessly. My iPhone’s memory space is almost at full capacity, but here’s why the Pope App is staying on my smartphone for the long run.

The Layout: The app’s scheme — navy blue, white and yellow in colour — is clean and easy to navigate. It’s quite similar to the setup of the Facebook iPhone App. Just press the menu button on the top left side and the menu slides away to the right revealing another screen from the left. Everything is labeled exactly, so there is zero confusion on how to access a certain page. But the layout of the text feels squished and can be difficult to read for someone like me, who needs to wear glasses or contact lenses at all times.

The Features: The Pope App has taken full advantage of multimedia with a mix of photos, videos and recent news articles. The webcam feature is interesting because you can peek into six different live webcam feeds — St. Peter’s Square, Blessed John Paul II’s Tomb, Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica and Castel Gandolfo. For those unable to travel to Italy, it’s a first hand look into another world. However, the webcam feeds aren’t video streams, but just constantly updated snapshots of the sites. Hopefully this video issue will be fixed when future updates of the app are released.

The Extras: There is also a 2013 archive of speeches, letters and messages from the Pope, as well as an active news feed from the Vatican Information Service. It’s like always having a Vatican newspaper on your phone. The News section of the VIS is great for passing the time. Also, if I don’t want to spend time watching videos of a speech by Benedict XVI, it is nice to see a full copy right on my home screen.

The Speed: While the Pope App may have taken cues from Facebook for its layout, it has followed Twitter with its live, up-to-the-second feed of broadcasts and information about the Pope. There is a “Live” section on the menu that lets you know if there is something important the Pope is addressing at that very second. It also keeps you informed about his upcoming events.

Overall, the Pope App is simple and effective as eyes and ears of the Pope’s whereabouts. The up-to-date news of the Pope is what keeps me coming back. But the app, which left me feeling like I had taken part in a one-sided conversation, can be improved with more interactive features where app users can chat and leave comments or suggestions.

The Pope App is expected be available for Android users at the end of February.

(Jereza, 18, is a second-year journalism student at Ryerson University in Toronto.)

 

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