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    App of the Week: ABA TECHSHOW 2013 Conference


      In recent years large conferences have built mobile apps to help attendees plan their time and navigate the maze of educational sessions and exhibitors. It also, ideally, helps attendees to connect at social events and on the networks.
      With the greatly anticipated annual event for lawyers, technologist, and lawyer-technologists, ABA TECHSHOW, just around the corner, how does the ABA TECHSHOW 2013 Conference App stack up? Here’s a breakdown of the 14 features the app offers:

      1. Exhibitors – You can view a list of exhibitors by name or category. The list by “name” offers no description of the exhibitor, except, of course, the first one: the ABA’s own Law Practice Management Section. The “category” list is empty. Fail.
      2. Schedule – You’re greeted with two options: Attendee Schedule and Public Schedule. The Public Schedule simply loads a mobile version of the website with a call to action “Register Now” button. The Attendee Schedule, which according to the website “will be unlocked for a limited time only,” (why?) offers views by day, track, topic, and speaker. There’s a description of each session, but not the speaker. In fact, the speaker option brings up an empty list. The Topic option – advanced, intermediate, introductory and social event – is not terribly useful.
      3. Social Events – This should be renamed “Social Event” since there’s only one event listed.
      4. Resources – Provides links to non-mobile versions of ABA magazines and websites. Not useful
      5. Register – It looks like a great in-app option to register, but the call to action button takes you to a non-mobile version of the website. Nix.
      6. Social Media – “Like us on Facebook,” “Follow us on Twiter,” etc. Doesn’t take you to the app, but instead asks you to login. Nix

      That takes care of the first screen. 7 through 14 on the second and third screens – Messages, Contacts, Search, Notes, About, Maps, Twitter feed, and Blog – are marginally useful. The map is a Chicago area map, a copy of which we can easily pick up at the front desk. Glaringly absent is a map of the conference center with session rooms and exhibit hall/vendor locations.
      Available: Phone, iPad, Android, and BlackBerry
      Overall, a disappointing app, especially for a tech conference; but not unusual for one-off conference apps which try to do too much with too little. How about concentrating on perhaps 6 features and doing them well?
      Hold on to your conference booklet.
      UPDATE: Post updated to include detailed explanation from Nerino Petro.
      I’m one of the ABA TECHSHOW Planing Committee members and one of the members that is responsible for the app. Thanks for taking the time to look at it. I want to update some of the information that you have provided since I’m not sure when you tried it, and if you are not a registered attendee, the access you have to areas of the app are limited, which his by design.
      As with any of these types of apps they are an ongoing work in progress. However, the beauty of these apps is that they can be constantly updated with the updates being pushed out to the users and that is the case with the ABA TECHSHOW 2013 app. If you take a look at the app today, you will find descriptions for the vendors along with website links, phone numbers and more. Because of the volume of information, data tends to be uploaded in bulk when we are confident that we have the majority of it and it is correct.
      As to your point about the schedule having two links, there is a purpose to that as well: the attendee schedule is only available to those that have registered for the event. Why? It is to protect the content for ABA TECHSHOW.
      You see, materials for each session are attached to the session descriptions for download allowing attendees to download them directly to their smart device. Not much point to being a paid attendee if you could get these materials for free, so you have to be a paid attendee to receive this benefit. The public schedule is for those that might be curios as to the topics being covered but haven’t registered. Think of it as s sneak peek but if you want the whole package, you get that when you register.
      The same goes for Social Events, all of the Taste of TECHSHOW dinners are now listed along with their hosts and locations.
      As to the social media link, once you have registered the app using your attendee code, clicking any of these links takes you to that page such as the ABA TECHSHOW facebook page.
      The maps section contains maps for the Chicago area, floor plans for all levels of the hotel that has ABA TECHSHOW events taking place. The vendor hall map is being finalized and will be uploaded prior to the start of the conference next week.
      For those that are attending, make sure to enable push notifications in the app as we will be using that to send out updates and notifications throughout the conference.
      Also, don’t forget to check and edit your contact info from the Contacts link to add any additional information you want to share with other attendees and then share with other attendees.
      Bottom line is that to get the full benefit of the app you need to be a registered attendee. We would love to do more, but the constraints of the app and of course costs impact what we would like to do with the app and what we can do with the app. I do appreciated the input as our goal is to improve the ABA TECHSHOW experience for everyone that attends and the app is one of those efforts.
      Hope to see you there.
      Nerino Petro

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