myUMBC App Incoming

Get ready to download a brand new app

David Verghese

Assistant Tech Editor

davergh1@umbc.edu

Rather than have just a mobile site, myUMBC will feature its own app complete with the same features found on desktop and mobile versions of the site.

Move over desktop and mobile, myUMBC is getting an app version for both iOS and Android. The planned release was for this October, but Collier Jones, lead architect for myUMBC, said that the release has been pushed back.

“We can only do so much so fast,” said Jones as he is closely working with Mindgrub, a local Baltimore technology company.

The app will launch first on iOS and then Android at a later date. Most of the app is still being finalized, but there are a robust amount of features designed to engage students.

Jones wanted to make an app that doesn’t fight against the desktop version, so in case you didn’t have the app you were not at a loss. There was a focus to build on the camera, location and timeliness of devices.

One of the mockups that were shown was the ability to log in through the app and have it remember you. Included was the touch ID feature found in the latest iPhones with a standard 4 digit pin as a fallback in case the feature was cut.

The homepage to the app is simply the web view of myUMBC homepage. Notifications will be pushed to the app, and SMS notifications will get pushed to the user.

Home is just one section of the app; there will also be search, places and events with each of them housing unique features.

Search will be natively written in the app and will simply have the web view for searches performed. From here, students will be able to access recently searched items as well as their favorites and trending topics.

“Search is the killer thing” said Jones. The search bar will also autofill results making things easier to find for students.

Jones revealed an interesting feature the places section will have, and that’s iBeacons. For those who are unfamiliar, iBeacons use bluetooth to provide location based content  directly to smartphones.

Currently being piloted this semester, iBeacons are being set up all around campus. If a student were to walk into the University Center, the location of the campus card services would get pushed to the app.

This content can extend even further to tours, as they are built into the app as well. Walking next to the Walter Sondheim statue could provide the history behind him. Other walking points around the campus could feature their own info as well.

When questioned about how this could be integrated into the UMBC dorms Jones thought of an idea using iBeacons and posters within a hall to send notifications directly to the app.

Events will feature events happening in the moment but will also have a way to browse upcoming events. If the event has any free aspects to them, the app will list out the specifics or if its outright free.

Jones said “I’m always looking forward to having dialogue with people” when asked about what type of feedback he expects to gain from this app. UMBC students will finally get a feature rich comprehensive app to connect them with the campus.