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Texas University Launches iPhone and Android Apps


UTPA mobile provides access to campus maps, faculty directories, and course catalogs and will, in the future, let users monitor campus shuttle locations.

The University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg has launched campus iPhone and Android smart phone apps after doing a survey among students that concluded that half of them own a smart phone. The process of designing and developing UTPA mobile and having the apps reviewed and approved by Apple and Google's online stores has taken about seven months, according to Kumar Raman, the university's director of Internet Services within the IT organization. The university has about 17,000 students.

Features for the first version of the app give users access to campus maps; GPS-driven location help; faculty and staff directories that launch the phone dialer; course catalogs that display class descriptions, times, and locations; and library search functions. The app feeds news, events, and game schedules and scores. It's available in six languages: English, Arabic, Dutch, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish.

According to Raman, future updates will let people on campus monitor shuttle location and movement in real time and access their Blackboard accounts. The university also reported it will release an edition for BlackBerry and mobile Web.

"Through our surveys and meetings with the student government association, we found that many of our students are using Smart phones and are interested in seeing information about the university made available through their mobile devices," said Raman. "Web sites used to be the thing to have; but today mobility is key with the latest information always available at your fingertips. In addition, Smart phones and tablets are expected to have an explosive growth in upcoming years."

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Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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