Welcome back to SocketHop, where Bwog locks the few engineers on staff into a room and makes them explain things. We’ve covered tools to help you be more productive and new operating systems for your computer before, and today we take a look at a new Columbia app for your Android smartphone.
That’s right, our very own mobile app. Ariq Azad, CC ’14, working alongside Andrew Freiman, Cornell ’14, has released an unofficial Columbia University Android app, because hey, why not. (Come at us, Princeton.) So far the app’s user interface and features are a little humble, and Azad himself notes that this is just a “proof of concept.” Nevertheless, with the app, users can search for and read reviews on CULPA, read the latest campus news (stories from Bwog, the official CU news stream, and Spec), look at what amounts to be the campus on Google Maps, and search the Bulletin for classes. While no one would prefer doing any of these things on a mobile device, we can perhaps see some use in the Bulletin feature—the search results list times and locations for courses, and in case you’re darting between classes and you forget where the next one is, figuring this out via the app is much simpler than logging into CourseWorks or SSOL.
The app itself was created with PhoneGap, a development platform that allows developers to use web technologies to write an app once and deliver the product to multiple platforms. This means the interface won’t necessarily have the look and feel of an app that’s designed for a particular phone, since it’s targeting multiple devices. However, it also means there’s a greater potential to see this unofficial app come to iOS or BlackBerry devices since it’s such a simple porting process. Indeed, Azad tells Bwog that the process of iOS development will start soon after classes begin.
There’s a healthy list of upcoming features for the app too (although if you’re savvy with the technology industry, you know that promises are often not kept), and Azad told us to look for these on the Android app before the iOS release. Potentially coming soon are SSOL info, MTA data integration, and CourseWorks push notifications. Push notifications are the kind of alerts a phone gives the instant it receives a new text or email. Now imagine a world where every time a grade gets posted on CouresWorks or a new assignment is posted, your phone buzzes. That gets our circuits flowing.
We know there’s a large body of programming talent out there. If you know of any other CU apps, tell us about them at firstname.lastname@example.org.