Talking tech since 2003

Yes we Vati-can. The Papal Conclave, a meeting of 115 cardinals from around the world, will begin on Tuesday as the Catholic church looks to elect a new pope. The conclave is a time-honored tradition that has been around for millenia, though the conclaves that are most similar to our modern day system began in the year 1274.

Of course, this isn’t the year 1274. It’s 2013, and instead of relying on heralds and word-of-mouth to spread the news of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation and the search for a new pope, we have other channels — 24/7 news networks, online news sites, and social media. And we have our smartphones, which we keep attached to us rather… well… religiously.

conclave-appEnter the Conclave app from Logos Bible Software. The app provides a live video feed from St. Peter’s Square and the Sistine Chapel, the latest news on the conclave, biographies of all of the cardinals involved in the conclave, and links to additional resources to learn more about the process the church goes through to select its new leader.

The first thing I noticed is that the app utilizes a lot of Web views. The live video feed opens what I presume is a Web page with an embedded live YouTube stream. The Twitter section shows an embedded Twitter search for the Web (returning results for #conclave and #vatican). And the biographies for each cardinal are opened up from the Holy See Press Office’s website. Not that Web views are a bad thing — plenty of other apps use them — but they can take away from an app’s responsiveness, and you’ll occasionally be required to zoom in and out to better see the content you’ve opened.

One feature I really liked was in the Cardinal Bios section. When you first open it, you’re shown a list of the cardinals ranked by who is most likely to be elected pope. This information comes from NewAdvent.com. Rankings are always changing — for instance, Cardinal Angelo Scola, the Archbishop of Milan, is currently number one. Will he be number one later today? Who knows. But it’s neat to see who has a serious shot and who is bringing up the rear (Cardinal Geraldo Majella, Archbishop emeritius of São Salvador da Bahia comes in at #115).

There’s enough information here to fill you in on the background of the conclave, where the process currently stands, and how the various cardinals are fairing in terms of their chances, but you’ll have to remind yourself to go in and check the app every once in a while. If I could add anything to the Conclave app, it would be push notifications for the latest news, such as each round of voting and the final selection of the new leader for the Catholic church.

All in all, Logos Bible Software’s Conclave app will keep you up to speed on the conclave process, but it’ll be up to you to open the app every once in a while to see how things are going. It does a nice job curating content from the Web, though most of the sections open up in a Web view rather than showing information natively. The Conclave app is available for both iOS and Android, and is free.


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