In May 2013 Pope Francis broke new ground by becoming the first Pope to launch a mobile app for iPhone, iPad, and Android. The Pontifical Mission Societies' Missio app is a free app that features the latest news and video from around the world about the Catholic church. This launch event marks an historic moment for the church and her use of digital technology to connect with Catholics.
Little i Apps, an app development company based in South Bend, Ind., was chosen by the Pontifical Mission Societies to develop both the mobile application and the proprietary software that allowed the app to be globally activated by Pope Francis from the Vatican. Little i Apps is no stranger to drawing connections between digital and sacred spaces. In 2011, they developed and launched Confession: A Roman Catholic App, which triggered an international response to how individuals could properly make use of digital tools to aid their spiritual lives. "We are excited and honored to have been selected to develop the first app launched by a Pope. The importance of this launch and the opportunity to help spread the Good News globally is not lost on us," says Patrick Leinen, co-founder of Little i Apps. According to Fr. Andrew Small, OMI, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States and visionary behind the app, the Pope has personally shared his eagerness for the release of Missio and requested an Android version for his own smartphone.
The unveiling of Missio came on the heels of World Communications Day when the Catholic church reflected on the former pontiff, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's, invitation to Catholics to make better use of social media in sharing the Gospel. The Pope Emeritus, who opened the first papal Twitter account, challenged the church to think about social networking sites as "new spaces for evangelization." Pope Francis offers Catholics a new opportunity with the launch of Missio to reflect on ways their mobile devices can also be used as spaces for evangelization.
Missio is available free at the iTunes App Store and Google Play.