The Missio App

The new Missio app, launched last week, is being touted as the “first official app from the Vatican” is some quarters. That’s not quite right, since The Pope App from the Pontificium Consilium de Communicationibus Socialibus is pretty dang official.

I’m not sure what the long-term plans are for Missio, but right now it’s a pretty simple news aggregator app with the kind of clean and appealing interface I’d expect from Little i Apps, the folks behind the excellent Confession app.

CNS has a charming story about Pope Francis launching the app:

With the touch of an iPad, Pope Francis became the first pontiff to unlock a new smartphone application and expanded the Church’s footprint in the digital world.

“I was quite anxious that we were going to get the signal and it was all going to work. Because this isn’t made up, these folks are actually waiting for the Holy Father to hit this button before it works,” said Father Andrew Small in a May 17 CNA interview.

The launch of the MISSIO App took place May 17 in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall during a meeting of the Pope and the 120 national directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies.

The mission society’s application for mobile devices and smartphones collects news from Rome, stories and photos from the missions and other material and makes it available to the world.

The actual unlocking of the app was simple.

Fr. Small, the U.S. national director, presented his iPad to the Pope, who asked, “I push here?”

“As soon as the Holy Father hit the button, a little notice came across the top – what they call a ‘push notice’ – and it said, ‘Pope Francis has unlocked the MISSIO App.’

“And he sort of looked a little bit surprised,” Fr. Small recalled.

The button was labeled “Evangelizantur,” which means, “that they be evangelized” in Latin.

This is kind of footprint the church needs in the digital realm. I’m pretty well wired into these resources already, so I just don’t use standalone news apps like this, but it’s important to have this kind of presence on mobile devices. When people do app searches for “Catholic” or “mission” or related terms, we need to be there and be present in a professional and engaging way.

While I appreciate the zen-like simplicity of the two button “News” and “Donate” design, some better sorting options would be welcome. Media type, source, and search fields are needed to beef this one up a bit. Also, either I’m nuts or this thing is locked into landscape mode for iPad, and portrait mode for iPhone. That’s just weird.

Missio is an important reminder that we are, once more, primarily a missionary church. Everywhere is mission territory in the modern world. That means the Pontifical Mission Societies will only grow in importance in the upcoming years, and this app will be there to grow with them.