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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    A data centre in Canberra.

    Default iPhone & iPad App Reviews - Australia Votes, The Worm

    <h3>This week it's an election special as we look at two apps designed to help us decide at the polls this Saturday - the ABC's Australia Votes app for news and analysis and The Worm, giving iPhone users their own opportunity to share their opinion on tonight's town hall forum.</h3>
    <h4>Australia Votes</h4>
    <a href="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Australia-Votes-1.png"><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-9140" title="Australia Votes 1" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Australia-Votes-1.png" alt="" width="196" height="380" /></a>

    Australia heads to the polls on Saturday, with the media covering every corner of the federal election at every possible angle and perspective. Australia's national broadcaster, however, is looking forward to the event even more keenly than the commercial stations, hot off the heels from their launch of ABC News 24 just a few weeks back. Since then, they've been playing up the accessibility of news and analysis courtesy of the ABC with a live feed of their 24 hour news channel available on desktops, plus all iOS devices with their ABC iPhone &amp; iPad app - and recently, they went a step further with the availability of a dedicated election app for the 2010 election called <em>Australia Votes</em>.

    <em>Australia Votes</em> is similar to the ABC app, but obviously with a particular focus on political stories. A countdown to the big day appears at the top right of the home screen at all times, while a daily poll average occupies the top half of the screen to provide an insight into the public's opinion. In terms of video, <em>Australia Votes</em> offers live ABC News 24 streaming (although in my tests, I found it to be far more reliable with the general ABC app than with this) and the 90 second news wrap-up, which is updated frequently throughout the day.


    <a href="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Australia-Votes-2.png"><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-9146" title="Australia Votes 2" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Australia-Votes-2.png" alt="" width="196" height="380" /></a>

    The top news stories aren't always related to the election (see the screenshot to the left) but generally speaking, a good level of coverage is provided. This, combined with Antony Green's election blog (read: charts and statistics galore) and commentary from Annabel Crabb and others at The Drum makes for comprehensive analysis of the battle for Parliament House. Best of all, the <em>Australia Votes</em> also has a seat search function that gives a brief rundown of every federal seat in Australia, with history, a political profile and an assessment of each party's chances of gaining or losing the seat, as shown below with the marginal seat of Bennelong (for those who are interested, this seat was once Howard territory and currently belonging to former ABC presenter Maxine McKew). On the election night itself, the ABC promises live vote counting and results for each seat inside the app.

    Where <em>Australia Votes</em> unfortunately stumbles is in presentation. For no apparent reason, text is presented as an image on the page, which, aside from not allowing copy/pasting of snippets of text, makes articles far more difficult to read and particularly ugly on the iPhone 4. This is not a retina display app, but at the very least text could be displayed much better than it does at the moment.

    <a href="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Australia-Votes-3.png"><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-9147" title="Australia Votes 3" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Australia-Votes-3.png" alt="" width="196" height="380" /></a>

    Considering the short timeframe in which this app will be used, it was important for the ABC to push this app out as fast as they possibly could, and the sporadic crashes are most likely victim to this. Having said that, the ability to create an entire app based around a six week election campaign that works well enough and offers a good insight to the candidates as they fight for votes is impressive, and the ABC ought to be congratulated for that. As a broadcaster, the ABC have put great effort into bringing many of their services online, and this is just the latest in a long lineup. Hopefully the little mistakes from this app won't appear again at <em>Australia Votes 2013</em> (or whenever we have to deal with all this again)!

    <strong>Version reviewed:</strong> 1.0
    <strong>Price:</strong> Free
    <strong>Developer: </strong>Australian Broadcasting Corporation
    <strong>Designed for:</strong> iPhone &amp; iPod touch
    <strong>Compatibility:</strong> iOS running 3.0 or later
    <strong>Size:</strong> 1.3MB
    <strong>Category:</strong> News
    <strong><a href="http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/australia-votes-2010/id383779685?mt=8">App Store</a></strong>
    <h4>The Worm</h4>
    <a href="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/The-Worm-1.png"><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-9149" title="The Worm 1" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/The-Worm-1.png" alt="" width="380" height="196" /></a>

    On the other end of the media spectrum lies commercial networks Nine and Seven, who take great delight in offering a 'worm' throughout the leader's debate at every federal election, giving feedback on 'randomly selected' undecided voters' opinions at every speech. It can be, at times, interesting to watch, but for those who take an active interest in politics, it would be much more fun to sit on the other end and actually be part of the worm. While it may be a while before the commercial free-to-air stations call everyone who wants to have a role, at least iPhone users can have a go at it unofficially with <em>The Worm</em> app, released on the App Store earlier this week.

    <em>The Worm</em> works just like the television version pioneered quite some time ago, but gives viewers the opportunity to select their own opinion on the left hand side. A slider lets users send their opinion on what the leader is saying at any given time - slide up for 'happy', and down for 'sad'. Then on the right, the worm appears with details underneath on how many people are using the app, and recent debate-related tweets. In this particular scenario, the worm was wrestling with the town hall meeting at the Broncos Leagues Club in Queensland tonight.

    <a href="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/The-Worm-2.png"><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-9150" title="The Worm 2" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/The-Worm-2.png" alt="" width="380" height="196" /></a>

    <em>The Worm</em> fell down on its server at tonight's forum, with frequent connection loss, especially in the first few minutes of questions. In its first day online and again, as another seemingly rushed-to-stay-relevant app, this is understandable but the instability made it almost unusable for the first half hour. Later, it became more stable and provided a better insight into voters' (the iPhone owning voters, anyway) minds, while before the forum, a countdown appeared on screen which was a little late (Abbott, who spoke first, started his opening remarks a few minutes early) but a nice touch.

    With the election just two days away, it's once again extremely difficult to tell whether Labor will return to government once again, or the Coalition gain enough seats to control the next three years in Australian politics, but apps like <em>The Worm</em>, at the very least, make for a slightly more interesting campaign - and based on the performance of all the leaders so far, that's very much needed.

    <strong>Version reviewed:</strong> 1.0.0
    <strong>Price:</strong> Fre
    <strong>Developer: </strong>Im At
    <strong>Designed for:</strong> iPhone &amp; iPod touch
    <strong>Compatibility:</strong> iOS running 3.0 or later
    <strong>Size:</strong> 1.2MB
    <strong>Category:</strong> Lifestyle
    <strong><a href="http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/the-worm/id385514229?mt=8">App Store</a></strong>

  2. #2

    Join Date
    May 2008


    Great review. One non-app related comment though:

    Quote Originally Posted by MTBlogBot2000 View Post
    The top news stories aren't always related to the election (see the screenshot to the left) ...
    Just remember that not all issues may concern you or affect your vote, but will do so for others. It is enough of an issue for some people that it has been brought up many time during this campaign.

    Probably best to leave what is "related to the election" for the reader to decide.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jul 2009


    Oh dear. A formatting error on my behalf. That comment was meant to refer to the first screenshot, which showed a list of articles that are non-election related. As far as I'm aware, the second screenshot is definitely election related, and a very important issue at that (In fact, I chose it because I thought it was a great article!)

  4. #4


    The bar graph graphics on the ABC app never worked on my iPhone 4. #fail

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