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New UI app accommodates both student and public needs

BY GRETA MEYLE | SEPTEMBER 11, 2013 5:00 AM

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The desperate flipping between different Internet tabs to access ICON, ISIS, and various other University of Iowa tools has consumed students’ time, but a solution has emerged.

UI officials recently introduced a free application, entitled HawkTools, that condenses all-important university information in one location.

The application allows students to access menus from Hillcrest and Burge, washer and dryer times in residence halls, ISIS, ICON, Hawkmail, Bongo, and linkage to university athletics news and After Class, which informs students about events on campus.

Created by UI Information Technology Services and strongly encouraged for freshman use at On Iowa, the application has received mixed responses.

“It’s really slow, but I’ve been using it to go on Hawkmail and check my classes,” UI freshman Eliya Prieboy said. “Sometimes in classes, I am able to use it to check my email if computers are not allowed, which is helpful, but I’d rather use my laptop.”

ITS officials say they created the new app to have more functionality than the old UIMobile application. ITS gathered feedback from users throughout the past two years and found that the diverse user base of the UIMobile app has a variety of different needs. The app was created by staff members who work to develop mobile apps and websites such as BONGO, so there was a time investment but no additional cost to the UI.

“We started identifying which features would be helpful to students and which were more suited to the general public,” Romy Bolton, the ITS director of enterprise services, wrote in an email. “For instance, visitors to the university are probably less interested in LaundryView, while students living in the residence halls find it very useful.”

UI freshman Lauren Minert said she found the application to be very helpful while adjusting to the university.

“I use it a lot for BONGO,” she said. “It is much more useful than the regular application because it transfers you straight to it, and all information is in one place. I also loved it for the On Iowa stuff. It really helped me navigate around.”

During On Iowa, students used the app to check for information on the events.

“We wanted to give students access to the most up-to-date schedule information for the program,” Eric Page, the head of the On Iowa communications committee, wrote in an email. “We also wanted to eliminate the 30-page program booklet we'd done in past years. It was expensive to produce and not really effectively reaching the students. We thought a mobile app was a good solution.”

Bolton said the responses she has received from students on the app have been “overwhelmingly positive.” There have been more than 1,500 iOS downloads and more than 600 Android downloads since the kickoff of the fall semester.

Bolton said the application will eventually include content from Iowa Now, campus maps, other news and events, and other apps created by the UI to better accommodate the public.

While the application has received mostly positive responses, it will continue to be a work in progress.

“We hope it helps students by creating a single point of entry into some of the things they care about most,” Bolton wrote in an email. “This app is really designed for and about students and what they need to be successful and comfortable at the University of Iowa.”


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