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Student Life

University of South Florida Goes Mobile

Tampa— Technology is constantly influencing how information is distributed and received. With the introduction of the mobile age there is a demand for services to be optimized for use on handheld devices and their varying platforms.

To target the growing use of mobile devices the University of South Florida has partnered with software companies to create applications that target the mobile market. USF has taken numerous steps to improve the functionality of its websites and resources for mobile use.

One of the first such steps was the optimization of the main website for access through cell phones in March, 2007. Following the introduction of mobile applications, USF launched its very own school-orientated app called iUSF.

“I use applications often, they’re convenient. At first when websites became mobile it was really cool but I don’t always want to open my browser to do certain things,” says Bobbie Stuff, a junior.  “It’s good that USF has it’s own application but it needs to be improved, I want to see Blackboard.”

iUSF was launched July 23, 2010 and first made available in the Apple Store. The application allows students access to basic information such as campus news, the directory and emergency notifications. The project was funded by the Student Technology Fee with an initial budget of $50,000.

It wasn’t long before the application expanded and became available to both Android and Blackberry users. In October, 2010, the iUSF application was relaunched with updates that included access to myUSF, bulltracker and USF places. The application has approximately 3,000 downloads in the Apple Store and between 500~1,000 in the Android Market. There was also an accomanying USF Health applicationthat was released shortly after the initital launch of  iUSF.

iUSF as it appears on a Blackberry. Photo by Michelle Mijide.

The Oracle, USF’s on-campus paper, took an initiative to join the mobile market just this month. The Oracle application was released and made available in iTunes on April 8, 2011 and the Android counterpart will follow shortly after. Anastasia Dawson, Editor-in-Chief of the Oracle, recognizes the importance of a changing climate in information relation.

“Readers consume media at an increasingly rapid rate, and creating a smartphone app was just the next logical step in keeping up with the increasingly competitive market,” said Dawson.

Alongside its application development the Oracle also begun featuring a QR code on every printed copy. The scanable code is located on the left hand side of the front-page. The code surfaced just this academic year and like any other QR code can be scanned with any QR scanner on devices that have the feature enabled. The decision to implement the code was inspired by reader input.

“A student contacted us toward the beginning of the semester about placing QR codes next to our printed stories so students could email copies of the story back to themselves instead of carrying around the entire paper,” said Dawson. “As we began to research QR codes a bit more we decided that they would be perfect for linking readers to videos, photo galleries and our Scene and Heard section — a new entertainment section that exists primarily online.

”By creating a customized application for itself the Oracle is hoping to increase readership as more students turn to digital media. Dawson is very aware of this and believes that the steps the Oracle is taking are necessary to survive in a field where the timeliness of information distribution is absolutely essential.

The Oracle Application on an iPhone. Photo by Michelle Mijide.

“The mobile audience is definitely important because it’s a growing demographic, especially among college students and professionals on the go. Being able to connect with an mobile audience gives us the potential to make our content seen before our competitors. Even if another newspaper were to break a story before we were, if audiences have to wait until tomorrow to read their story yet could access ours instantly from their cellphone, we come across as the more reliable, more dominating news source. ”

Furthermore, on April 11, 2011 there was a notification sent out to all USF students informing them that their accounts had been transitioned to function like a regular Google account. This now enables students to use their USF e-mails in the Android Market and improves synching with devices.

Hannah Case, who works in her spare time as a freelance application developer, is not surprised to see an increased interested in mobile applications. Almost every major business or product has an application on the market that is either free of charge or relatively cheap. Case feels that the appeal of applications is that they’re small and every effective.

“Applications are so attractive because they get straight to the point. When you download an application that’s made well it can perform its task perfectly. A good example would be a popular application like Poynt, it’s a dream to have something work that well,” said Case. “Institutions such as universities need to be able to adjust and enter the market. You can order food, bank and shop online, why not study or turn in homework?”

About Michelle Mijide

Hi. My name is Michelle. I like skimming celebrity gossip blogs and I'm obsessed with children's television.


2 Responses to “University of South Florida Goes Mobile”

  1. HTDC0h

    Posted by frenky | May 7, 2011, 7:37 pm
    Reply to this comment
  2. Very interesting tale nexxx

    Posted by Wcnuogzj | December 9, 2011, 4:00 pm
    Reply to this comment

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