Let’s take a look at three free mobile apps are out there to help you navigate the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to the United States. Even if you’re not traveling to the venues September 22 to 27, these apps can be useful to access information, schedules, live and on-demand video–even real-time video captions served on your mobile device in several languages. If you are planning to attend any of the events, amid the holy madness which is a papal visit you will appreciate the comfort of having critical information in the palm of your hand. Think toilet locations, maps to venues, parking tips, that sort of thing. And don’t forget your essential social media… #GoodIsWinning and @PopeIsHope and Pope Emoji.
Since the World Meeting of Families is the hook bringing Pope Francis to our shores for the first time (ever in his life, in fact!), let’s start with the app devoted to that grand event.
GoPhiladelphia! (Free) Apple and Android. The World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia is a six-day international event and celebration that draws people from around the world. While the Congress itself is scheduled for September 22-25, Pope Francis won’t appear until the closing events which take place on Saturday, September 26 through Sunday, September 27. GoPhiladelphia! is a generic platform app for city events used by Philadelphia for the first time for this momentous occasion. This is a fantastic collaboration of city resources and private event planners to help disseminate important and useful information in big crowds. As you can imagine, it could be a most critical communication platform to get word out about any emergency situations that might arise and follow-up directions from authorities. Think Boston Marathon. Aside from general security, the app offers many resources to help make the visitor’s time more enjoyable before, during and after the events. As you can see, this app is primarily designed for those physically in Philadelphia for the events. However, folks at home might appreciate having the live “Papal Captions” which will appear during the Papal Mass on September 27. It is available in 8 languages including German, English, Spanish, French, Italian and Polish. You need internet connection to access most of the menu features.
Pope App (Free) Apple and Android [ UPDATE English language translations are not given during live video as the Pope speaks in various venues in Spanish. You get raw video only].For up-to-date (even live!) content connecting you with all things papal in the palm of your hand. This is your all-access pass to Pope Francis’s visit to the United States with official papal-related content in a variety of formats: Twitter feeds, news and official speeches, galleries with the latest images and videos, access to his calendar, and links to other services of the Holy See along with video (live and on demand) of important events taking place like papal Mass, speeches, religious services. Get timely ALERTS and links to top stories. A great app to have handy to pick up all the latest official material coming out of the various venues where the pope will visit. 5 languages: English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish. Requires internet service to run this app.
Catholic Church App (Free) Apple and Android. [ UPDATE We are impressed with the English language translations and commentary given during live video as the Pope speaks in various venues in Spanish]. Brand new to the market is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ all-inclusive The Catholic Church App. As the title suggests, it is an attempt to bundle parishes and (arch)dioceses across the United States—even the Vatican—into one, single mobile resource. As you can imagine, it has information on the U.S. Papal Visit under the Events tab. Keep current with what the Pope is saying and doing. You’ll get comprehensive coverage from the Vatican and Catholic News Service (including CNS videos). This ambitious app is designed to be of service to every Catholic in the United States–all 75 million of us–with the ability to communicate to us right down to the parish level (although that is a development in progress at this time as, apparently, parishes and dioceses need to pay for subscriptions to hop on to the portal or to link their existing mobile presence for free). Right now, it serves up some useful resources like:
- (coming soon) Church finder by location, city, zip code
- (coming soon) Individual parish and diocesan pages
- Daily Scripture readings
- USCCB content integration
- English/Spanish capability
- News alerts, calls-to-action, events calendar
Portals include Events — that’s where you find your Papal Visit information and updates. It is unclear from looking at that section what exactly it will serve up. Live video? Streaming updates? Simple news text? We don’t know. The Resource tab needs more work. Currently it is set to offer resources like a Bible (that just takes you to the USCCB web site’s Bible which is difficult to read on a smart phone); the Catechism of the Catholic Church (that just takes you to their “store” to purchase a hard copy) egads! If that isn’t frustrating enough, when you access those off-site resources, you can’t get back to the app unless you close out and re-open it. Aside from the fact that those resources are available on several free apps out there and the Pope App sufficiently covers everything about Pope Francis, this app is not quite the product it is meant to be–yet. We will keep you posted on developments with this ambitious project. Download a Powerpoint Presentation of the Catholic Church App at this link. Internet services needed to run most features. Shockingly, the USCCB web site does not offer links to the download sites. We went on a hunt for you and found them above. Our full and continually updated review of Catholic Church App is at this link.
Ok. We’ll add one more mobile app covering Pope Francis…
EWTN TV and Radio (Free) Apple or Android or Kindle Fire will also offer comprehensive coverage of the Pope’s trip to the United States. Check out their complete schedule of live and on-demand video. English and Spanish. Enjoy special coverage of the World Meeting of Families as well!