The iPad as an Election Tool? Maybe in 2012

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This is the year of the iPad, and last night made that even more clear. During this year’s midterm election season several news organizations tried to take advantage of the new iPad technology, arming their apps with functionalities that allowed users to watch the results without having to turn on their TV.

Did it work? Some weren’t impressed. But there were the occasional features that had potential: Instead of having to wait until results from your state is announced on the news or opening several websites at the same time and constantly refreshing them, apps like FOX News allowed you to “favorite” certain races so you could keep better track of them. Some apps, like the NY Times’, provided maps with interactive features that allowed users to manipulate the results they were most interested in.

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But many app users following the election from their iPads complained of glitches. Consumers found that some apps would “hang up” due to too many users and poor internet connection. Apps like ABC had built-in automatic restarts when service was restored, but it was frustrating, especially for individuals who were watching streaming coverage. There were also a lack of apps that utilized the user’s location to give them information about their own local election results across all smart devices, which is seems like a logical use for the iPad. Others complained about being able to zoom in and read things better without experiencing lag.

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Some news orgs also tried to incorporate the gadget and other new technologies into their on-air coverage. For example, CNN’s Ali Velshi cradled his precious device, pacing from side to side as computer graphic imagery looked like it was about to crush him. He commented to Huffington Post that he saw “absolutely nothing,” and it was obvious from his actions. The 3D holograms were also in full force, with the Daily Show poking fun at the MSNBC’s and CNN’s Capitol building 3D image that both stations utilized which provided very little relevant data.

Fortunately, the midterms can serve as a dry run for news organizations looking to utilize the iPad in 2012. With iPad sales projected to hit 28 million in 2011, the tech savvy constituent can likely look forward to much better election user experience for iPad owners two years down the line.

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