UM Students Create iPhone App For Campus Info

When will the bus be here? What’s for dinner at East Quad? Where is Stamps Auditorium? Through a new University of Michigan Ann Arbor campus iPhone app, you can now have answers to these kinds of questions right in your pocket or purse.

The app, called University of Michigan in the iTunes store, is available free. It allows users to track buses in real time through the popular Magic Bus web application, check dining hall menus and search for buildings, among other features.

“Mobile applications are resulting in a fundamental shift in how people experience computing,” said Laura Patterson, UM associate vice president and chief information officer. “The low cost and fast adoption of smart phones makes it essential to have our university services accessible on mobile devices. The Michigan iPhone app is the first step.”

The app also enables users to:

  • Read university, student and alumni publications including the University Record, the Michigan Daily and Michigan Today
  • See the day’s events
  • Connect to iTunes U
  • Hear the fight song by clicking on the app title

Conceived of by Computer Science and Engineering students Kevin Chan and Mark Yang as “iWolverine,” the initial app was a project for Elliot Soloway’s Mobile and Web App Programming course in winter 2009. Soloway is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the School of Information, and the School of Education.

The students, now graduates with jobs at Qualcomm in San Diego, turned to their pet peeves for some of the features. They found themselves wondering what was being served at various dining halls while they were out and about. So they included the menus.

What is now the building search on the Michigan app started out as an abbreviation directory in iWolverine.

“Everyone struggled with figuring out the abbreviations and the locations for buildings at the beginning of the new semester,” Yang said.

Information and Technology Services purchased iWolverine in March.

“Mark and Kevin had an excellent start on a general U-M app with iWolverine. Their app allowed us to jump start our development,” said Cassandra Carson, mobile applications product manager.

ITS is exploring the development of an Android version of the Michigan app. It is also developing other apps for the Michigan community. Officials expect three called Mfile, Mprint and SSO to be available later this summer. Mfile will allow users to download files from their U-M Institutional File Service home directory to an iPhone. Users can print to a campus printer from Mprint. SSO is a Cosign Single Sign-On authentication app for developers.

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About MTAM

MTAM is a non-profit trade association for Michigan’s mobile / wireless (connected) technologies industry and businesses in all industries utilizing those technologies. We are the first state-based mobile/wireless industry trade association in the U.S., and our mission is: • to facilitate conversation/collaboration between varied sectors of the mobile/wireless eco-system; serve as the bridge to enable diverse organizations to understand each other’s perspectives and needs in order to drive new innovation and opportunities involving these technologies; • to increase the use of, and demand for, Michigan-based mobile/wireless technology products and services in-state, nationally and globally; • to increase the productivity and profitability of every industry vertical in Michigan via the use of these technologies; • to create sustainable jobs and increased entrepreneurial opportunities in the state based on the use of these technologies, thereby achieving substantial growth of Michigan’s economy; • and to help the communities we serve via the use of these technologies. We are also the statewide producer of Mobile Monday Michigan – a mobile / wireless industry networking and education organization which is a branch of the international Mobile Monday organization based in Finland. Here in Michigan we currently have 4 chapters (Detroit, Ann Arbor, Lansing and Grand Rapids) with over 3000+ members statewide.
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