Ever since its debut in the summer of 2007, the Apple iPhone has been the hottest plaything on the market since Paris Hilton. But its usefulness for government work is often overlooked in favor of its cool games, sleekness, and long feature list. That's until now.
The iTunes Applications (App) Store boasts well over 20,0000 different applications, everything from games to business software are just a screen tap away. Prices range from the ever-popular free items to about $10, not too bad for some high quality programs that iPhone toting public servants can use at the office.
So what are these applications that might come in handy for the more tech-savvy government worker? Let's take a look.
1. Congress+ ($9.99) - An all-encompassing Congressional directory, everything you need to know about the 111th Congress. All the standard directory info is here, from mailing addresses to biographies. But that's not all. Need a map of the Minority Whip's district? You can find it here. How about contact info for the Speaker's Press Secretary? Yeah, that's here too. All the pertinent information for every Congressional office, plus some stuff you didn't even realize you needed. An invaluable tool for everyone from Hill staffers to local activists to SESers heading to the Hill to be grilled by grandstanding representatives.
2. CIA World Countries Factbook ($0.99) - One of the more indispensable government publications is now available in mobile form. Features economic and population statistics for every country on the map. It's a wonderful reference tool and time killer if you're looking to learn what the capital of Zambia is, the GNP of Albania, or the population of Zimbabwe. State Department and Military types have known the power of the factbook for years. Now they can take it with them wherever they go. And so can anyone else.
3. Language Translators (Various Prices, many free) - French, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin; you name it, they sell it. There are dozens of options for government workers traveling abroad and in need of a handy pocket translator. Most run about 99 cents and will just make your life easier when you need to find a bathroom in Moscow.
4. FBI Most Wanted ($1.99) - Law enforcement officers, especially FBI Agents, might find this application helpful. In addition to the ever popular 10 Most Wanted list (with full color "Wanted" posters!) this app gives users breaking crime news, a listing of the most wanted terrorists, and a directory of the highest priority missing children. A portion of each sale of this app goes to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. A good application and a good cause, you really can't lose.
5. National Debt Clock (Free) - Get real-time deficit updates on your iPhone, as well as all the latest budget and financial news. There are a few different apps available that provide the service of reminding all of us that we might end up trading in our iPhones for bread and soup pretty soon. We prefer the version by Apptism that allows users to know what their personal share of the national debt at any given moment is. Fun!
6. US Citizenship Test ($4.99) - A neat tool for ICE officials, or anyone that's curious to know if they'd be able to pass the latest version of the infamously "simple" citizenship test. Includes the test as well as State Department study materials and virtual flashcards.
7. US Armed Forces ($0.99) -This application features a listing of all military ranks and awards, a collection of military oaths, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and the Code of Conduct. A great reference tool for anyone in, or anyone who is just interested in, the Armed Forces.
8. To-Do List (Various, Free) - Exactly what you think it is. Organize and prioritize all your daily tasks and chores. You certainly don't need to be a government worker to find this program helpful. Sounds basic, and it is, but it's a great way to make sure you get o everything without cluttering your world with sticky notes or wasting paper. Our favorite that we found is the Toodledo application, which includes lots of options and a great interface. There are tons of options for users who want a more barebones "checklist" type of application or those who want something a bit more elaborate.
9. The Law Pod ($0.99) - Featuring the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure right on your iPhone screen, this is a terrific resource for DOJ workers and aspiring Chief Justices, as well as law students looking for a little bit of a high tech cheat sheet. It also supports a good cause, as all after-tax profits from this app's sale are given to law schools around the country to provide financial aid for students in need. A great idea, until one of them tries to prosecute you.
10. EZ Tax Lite (Free) - In affiliation with H&R Block, TurboTax, and Taxhead.com, this application lets users calculate their tax refund or amount due in a matter of minutes. The app also features the entire IRS Federal Tax table for easy reference. The program reminds users that it is not tax filing software, just a handy calculator that can put users in contact with filing services. Apparently a few of President Obama's Cabinet picks neglected to download this program: their loss.
11. FedTravel ($0.99) - A full digital version of the Federal Travel Regulation 301 Handbook for US Official Business Traveler, or everything you need to know to avoid recreating your own personal version of Midnight Express. A great tool for government workers traveling abroad on state business, but then again where's the fun in a state trip without the threat of triggering an international incident?
There you have it, just a small sampling of the countless applications available to transform your iPhone from a mere cell phone on steroids into a truly useful tool of good government. Everyone from Joe Citizen to the highest public office holder - well not THE highest, he's yet to convert to the iPhone - can find something useful for work.
Have any others you find particularly handy? Share your info with others below.
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