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In an attempt to get with the times and extend their campaigning to mobile users, both major parties have been releasing iPhone apps. 

I've been comparing the iPhone apps recently released by both Labour and the Conservative Party. I would have reviewed the Lib Dem app as well, but they haven't released one... 

News

Both apps have a news section. On the Labour app, headlines are clearer, a brief extract is provided, as well as a small picture. This makes the headlines easier to scan. It also has a local news section. 

On the Conservatives' app, the latest news headlines are not clearly presented, and they don't even look like links: 

However, at least the news is actually up to date on the Conservatives app. The screenshots above were taken the morning after the election was called, but the latest news on the Labour app is a couple of days behind, rendering it virtually pointless. 

The background on the Tory app of a blue sky may be party colours, but the lighter parts and the relatively small text makes the articles harder to read than those on the Labour app. 

Local information

This is an area the Labour app wins hands down, since it asks users for their current location and uses this to serve up local news (though it is about two months out of date in my case), as well as the details of Labour candidates in my area. 

There is also a local events section, though this is more of a blank slate to be filled by your own telephone canvassing and doorknocking activities. 

Policy round up

Each app has a useful section which provides an overview of the parties' policies in various areas, from animal welfare to transport. Here's the Labour version: 

And on the Conservative app, which uses the wheel to scroll through policies: 

Campaigning / donating

The Labour app is called 'iCampaign' so is naturally more geared towards campaigning with the local events and links to find your local MP and volunteer to help. 

The Tory app has a donate link, though you have to either attempt to negotiate the payment screen on a website that has not been optimised for mobiles, or else call an 0845 number from the phone to donate. 

There is also an option to call friends from your contacts list and grill them about their voting intention, before submitting this information along with their name and address. I'm sure my friends would really appreciate this... 

Social media integration

The Conservative app contains links to the party's Facebook page, Twitter account, and YouTube channel, each of which takes users away from the app and opens these pages in the mobile browser. 

Labour only links to its Twitter page, but it does open it up within the app, which is more useful in some ways, but it does mean you can't reply to messages or add any retweets. 

Other features

I've covered most of the features of the Labour app, but the Conservative app has a trump card here I haven't mentioned up to now: a swing-o-meter

Tilting the handset to the right (of course) will show the possible outcome on the map and in seat numbers, depending on the percentage swing to Conservative. Very neat. 

Conclusion

Both apps have their flaws; the Conservatives' app has text so small that policies and news articles are harder to read than they need to be, while Labour should make more effort to keep the news on its app up to date. 

Frankly, neither app is especially inspiring or useful to the average voter beyond spelling out where the parties stand on the major issues. Thanks to the 'wow factor' of the swing-o-meter, the Tory app just shades it. 

Graham Charlton

Published 8 April, 2010 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (2)

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Helen Adams

Labour have given us debt, crime, higher taxes and poor public services. My experience is waiting 4 months to see a specialists on the NHS, 2 years plus searching for a NHS dentist, child cannot get in Local school, parking from councils is too high. No support at all with maternity claims meant no payments for 5 months. Labour = shambles and Gordon Brown was not even elected. Every new law made is never enforced and only out to issue spot fines ! No matter how good the labour app is rising unemployment and university tution means I will never vote for them ! Sort the bloody pot holes out too !

about 6 years ago

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John Horsley, Client Services Director at Econsultancy

Helen, I am not sure I can agree with your point of view and I don't know your age but the tories ran the country into the ground and sold off public assets that in part has lead to the mess we are in now. Anyway I am not going to get into a political rant. Both these apps look like a total waste of time and are next to useless. The labour app looks like they have bought a white label / basic template application and prob rent it for a couple of hundred pounds per month. It seems to lack any idea of concept and purpose. Whilst the Tory app looks no better and this notion of call a friend and drop them in it for a door visit or call from the party sound like a nightmare. If any of my friends stiched me up like this I would freak out. It's an abuse of my data as would never have opted in to being contacted by them. This is very scary indeed.

about 6 years ago

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