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BU on the iPhone

Free BU Mobile app now tracks the BUS

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BU-Bus-1.jpg

The BU Mobile application is free to download from Apple’s App Store.

The days of wondering how long it will be until the next BU Shuttle (BUS) arrives are over. A new feature on the BU Mobile application can track the location of BU Buses on an iPhone or iPod Touch. The app is free, and can be found at Apple’s App Store.

The BU Mobile app, which was first released in April, also offers iPhone and iPod Touch users quick access to some of the most commonly used programs and websites at BU—including the campus calendar, campus maps, course descriptions, the BU directory, and BU Today stories. A bookmark feature can save frequently used maps, a specific bus stop, or an event on the calendar. To date, more than 5,600 people have downloaded the BU Mobile app.

“The number of mobile visits to the University’s website has doubled over the past year, and over half of those mobile visits have been made from iPhones and iPods,” says Niall Kavanagh, a senior analyst at Information Services & Technology and lead developer of the BU Mobile Task Force, a collaboration between BU’s New Media and IS&T. “The BUS schedule has been hands-down the number-one feature requested from the community, so we expect the new BU Bus module to be well-received by the students, faculty, and staff commuting between the two campuses. I think they’ll also find the live bus positions incredibly useful, especially as the weather becomes colder.”

The module now provides real-time schedule information for the buses, including arrival estimates for each stop, by using a GPS tracker installed in each of the buses. It is also possible to find stop locations, set schedule reminders, save the stop as a “favorite,” and be reminded of particular spot times.

The app was designed and built by the BU Mobile Task Force, which chose to develop an iPhone app first, because iPhones are the most popular mobile device people use to access BU on the web, according to a survey the group conducted. More apps for more smartphones are in the works.

The app is just one component of BU’s mobile phone strategy. As more users visit BU on mobile devices, the BU Mobile Task Force is “always thinking about how best to present content specifically on mobile devices,” Kavanagh says. “We think about how the material will look on a small screen and how we can make it easier to read.”

The final phase will create new web content and applications designed specifically for mobile devices. An example of this would be a tour of the BU campus using a smartphone, according to Trevor MacDowell, lead project manager for web publishing at IS&T. “Point your phone’s camera at a building on the BU campus, and information could pop up—the building’s name, departments, and more,” he says.

Almond Dhukka (ENG’12) uses the app frequently. While he still has a few gripes (he would like to see a weekly and monthly view for the calendar and a search feature in the maps module), he gives it a positive review. “I think the fact that BU is willing to make an app that’ll help students get what they’re looking for faster is great,” says Dhukka. “It shows amazing progressive thinking and that they won’t stick with academic traditions. This is something BU’s been good at for a while—CourseInfo and Blackboard are proof of that. I think it’s a nice, succinct app.”

The BU Mobile app is free to download from Apple’s App Store.

The BU Mobile team has created a survey asking users what they would like to see in the next version of the app. The BUS module was created because of suggestions from users, so who knows what could be created next?

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

28 Comments

28 Comments on BU on the iPhone

  • Dan on 09.29.2010 at 8:37 am

    Would it be too much to ask that an Android version be available?

  • Anonymous on 09.29.2010 at 9:28 am

    Second on the android app request

    I second the request for an android app. More people run android on the whole than iOS. Just saying.

  • Anonymous on 09.29.2010 at 9:32 am

    The app is full of bugs and terminate itself every now and then. Would like to see an debugged version of the app soon. Notheless, a potentially useful app if more features could be added.

  • Anonymous on 09.29.2010 at 9:36 am

    How about an android app?

  • Anonymous on 09.29.2010 at 10:07 am

    BU Mobile App.

    I concur that an Android version needs to be implemented soon. There’s a large number of students, faculty, and staff with the Android software.
    Thank you.

  • Anonymous on 09.29.2010 at 10:20 am

    I also would like an android app!

  • Anonymous on 09.29.2010 at 10:36 am

    we need an android version!

  • Anonymous on 09.29.2010 at 10:39 am

    Yes, I agree too. Rather than working on making BU pages more user friendly, please release an Android version first. Don’t leave your Android users in the dark.

  • Anonymous on 09.29.2010 at 10:50 am

    I’d also like an Android version. I use Verizon because I like when my calls actually go through.

  • Anonymous on 09.29.2010 at 11:24 am

    Android app please

    Android version of this would be greatly appreciated!

  • Anonymous on 09.29.2010 at 11:43 am

    There is NO WAY for you to say you’re mobile-friendly if you don’t have a BlackBerry app. EVERYONE USES A BLACKBERRY!!

  • Anonymous on 09.29.2010 at 11:52 am

    Android app!

    Another vote for an android version, please. :)

  • Anonymous on 09.29.2010 at 12:10 pm

    Blackberry app!

  • Anonymous on 09.29.2010 at 2:09 pm

    An iPhone app is all well and good, but those of us with Androids would love an app, too!!

  • Anonymous on 09.29.2010 at 4:18 pm

    Congrats! (Obj-C != Java)

    First, as a mobile app developer, I want to congratulate the BU Mobile app dev team. Waiting for the BUS last night, I was actually wondering if there was an app, and started thinking about how one would go about it. This app is very clean, runs without issue (for me), and is full of well thought-out details, like the BUS schedule automatically scrolling to the nearest time. I greatly prefer using it to the BUS website, and the other functions like directory, maps, courses, etc. make it that much better. Certainly better than I could have done.

    Second, to those who are requesting an Android version, keep in mind that iOS and Android are completely different animals in terms of programming languages, API, etc. So “porting” this app to Android is not trivial, in essence requiring a complete rewrite from the ground up. In short, be patient. A LOT of hours went into building this app, so let’s give the team some time to enjoy their release before diving back in again.

  • Anonymous on 09.30.2010 at 10:25 am

    Blackberry-friendly website at least!

    Although iPhones and iPads are outrageously popular, rightfully so, the nation’s largest mobile network is Verizon! Verizon wireless does not carry the iPhone! With no Blackberry or Android applications BU has completely discriminated against all Verizon subscribers.

  • Anonymous on 09.30.2010 at 11:53 am

    Blackberry app will be very appreciayed, too. Thanks.

  • Anonymous on 09.30.2010 at 12:01 pm

    It’s crazy that there isn’t an Android version. Android is by far the most used phone amongst students and it continues to grow.

    Not having an Android version is a serious gap in BU’s “Mobile Strategy”!

  • Anonymous on 09.30.2010 at 1:07 pm

    Android is far outpacing iPhone growth. I have an Android phone and all my friends do too except for one person.

  • Michelle Johnson on 10.03.2010 at 7:32 pm

    Android

    I have to add my voice to the chorus asking about an Android app.
    I’m sure that just getting the iPhone app out of the door has been a tremendous amount of work, but as you can see from the responses here, if you focus solely on the iPhone these days you do so at some peril. :)

    I would advise anyone doing mobile apps today to try to do parallel development so that you can release versions for multiple platforms simultaneously.

    I always ask my students at the beginning of the semester how many own iPhones. Usually just 2 or three raise their hands. They say they’re too expensive. Many own Blackberries, and increasingly, Android phones.

  • Anonymous on 10.03.2010 at 10:52 pm

    Android App!

    It would be awesome if we could have an android app!

  • Anonymous on 11.02.2010 at 12:00 pm

    Android version?

    ETA on an android version? Android has overtaken iPhone and is now the leading smartphone OS, it doesn’t make sense why this isn’t on android considering it’s much easier to develop for (no app store approval process/etc, plus google’s SDK is very versatile)

    “In the third quarter, devices with the Android operating system were installed in 44% of smartphones, while Apple Inc.’s iPhone came in second place with 23%, according to market research firm, NPD Group. RIM’s BlackBerry trailed behind in third place with 22%.”

    Android version, please!

  • neuromancer on 03.04.2012 at 12:40 pm

    There should be an app for Android.

  • anonymous on 09.01.2012 at 8:38 am

    Any progress on that Android app? It’s been two years.

  • c on 09.11.2012 at 4:43 pm

    Seriously…2 years later and with a dominant total 68% of smartphone market share, and still no Android app? Deplorable.

  • Tom on 01.10.2013 at 6:31 am

    Useless to me without an android version. FYI Android is more popular than Iphone

  • Anonymous on 08.11.2013 at 11:35 pm

    Perhaps 2 years ago, many students have used the iPhone and other mobile apple products. However, the number of android users is on the rise and I foresee an overtake of iPhone users. There’s a huge demand for an android app and we need that app to be accessible and available to all students.

  • LarryO on 09.05.2013 at 8:44 am

    Three years since this article was written and the Android app is ??????

    sounds of crickets chirping

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