Home U.S. Congress Comes to Android

U.S. Congress Comes to Android

A mobile application which connects Android phone owners to their representatives in the U.S. Congress has just been released by the non-profit, non-partisan organization Sunlight Labs, a group dedicated to government transparency. After months of public beta testing, the newly finished application is now a comprehensive toolset that helps you stay on top of congressional activity, voting records, new bills and laws, and more. It even provides one-touch access to your Congressional representatives, allowing to you to call their office directly from within the application, watch their YouTube videos or read their latest updates on the microblogging social network, Twitter.

Different from the iPhone Version

The Android application is similar in some ways to its iPhone counterpart, Real Time Congress, released at the beginning of the year. Like the the Apple version, the Android app makes it easy to see what’s happening inside Congress in a timely fashion.

However, unlike the iPhone app, the Android version offers a greater focus on your representatives and their activity. This is something which iPhone users already had access to, explained Sunlight Lab’s Clay Johnson back in January: there are “at least a half-dozen” third party applications for iPhone that do the same, he said . But in the Android Marketplace, there’s only the one: Congress.

Congress: App Details

From the app’s main screen, Android users can enter in their location, either by tapping into the phone’s GPS or by manually entering a State or zip code. Search functions for finding a particular representative or committee are also present and, at the top, there are sections for tracking votes and nominations.

Each representative has an easy-to-use profile page where their office’s phone number is prominently featured. Here, you’re also one tap away from voting records, sponsored bills, committee details, news articles, Twitter updates and YouTube videos, assuming your rep participates on social media. The rep’s own webpage is also linked by way of an icon found next to their profile picture.

Government in Your Pocket

For mainstream users who don’t try software in beta (aka “we’re still testing it”) format, Congress for Android may be their first peek into the power of mobile combined with the power of open data, specifically open governmental data. The application was built using the Sunlight Congress API and GovTrack.us, the former a tool to programmatically access basic information on members of Congress, and the latter a civic project for tracking Congressional activity.

Like all Sunlight projects, Congress is open source software, meaning other developers can view and reuse the code, stored here on Github.

Since the app’s launch into public beta late last year, over 250,000 Android owners have downloaded it. Now that the app has officially and publicly launched, that number is sure to rise.

In the future, the app will be updated to support real-time notifications and other “exciting features,” says Sunlight Labs. Those interested in downloading the app can do so now from the Android Market: just search for “Congress.”

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.