From a NASA app that keeps you up to date on space news to a Smithsonian app that shows what you'd look like as a caveman, federal agencies have cooked up innovative mobile apps for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry users. Here are 14 of the most popular.
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Federal agencies are increasingly developing mobile applications for the iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry, as well as websites compatible with mobile browsers: they now number several dozen, with more likely on the way.
In a recent executive order mandating that federal agencies draw up plans to improve government services, President Obama himself cited mobile services as one such path to cheaper, self-service ways for citizens to interact with government. Several federal agencies, including the ATF and the Army, are building application repositories for their own enterprise mobile apps.
The dozens of current mobile applications come from any number of agencies. There are apps from NASA, the National Institutes of Health, the Smithsonian, the Army, the Federal Communications Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, the Transportation Security Administration, and numerous other agencies.
Many government apps have only been downloaded a small number of times on the Android market, or have only a few ratings in the iPhone's AppStore. However, some have been downloaded tens or hundreds of thousands of times, with thousands of iPhone ratings and dozens of reviews.
Among these are apps to keep up to date with news from the White House and NASA, an app to track packages in the mail and find the nearest post office, an app that lets users see what they would look like as prehistoric humans, and an app that provides current information about flight delays, airport wait times, and weather.
NASA's first app is the most-rated government app on iTunes, and includes a number of features to keep users up-to-date with the latest news and info on the space agency. The app includes NASA mission info, a live stream of NASA's TV channel, launch countdowns, sighting opportunities for the space station and shuttle missions, images and archived videos, and links to NASA's social media feeds.
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