Southern Oregon University dived into the world of mobile technology last week with the introduction of a new, free smartphone application that offers a full palette of features for students and community members to carry on their phones.
The app provides users quick access to the university's Hannon Library catalog; on-campus event lists; SOU athletics and other news; custom Google maps of the school; and a variety of other services tailored specifically to students, faculty and staff.
Nearly 800 people downloaded the application during the week of its launch on Oct. 29, said Brad Christ, chief information officer at SOU.
Users also can access an SOU staff and faculty directory, photos and videos posted by the university, and emergency phone locations and numbers, including a large "push for help" button that automatically dials 911.
On smartphones, the format of the application is simply laid out over two pages containing 12 finger-tip-sized feature icons.
Those with accounts at SOU also can access personal storage drives and email accounts.
"The app serves as a mobile portal to some of the essential services we provide," said Christ. "Over half our students carry smartphones "… we knew we needed to respond to that demand."
Although most smartphones have Web browsers that allow users to access websites such as SOU's, which includes all of the features of the new application, using the app on phones uses less data — which cellphone companies track for charges — and is typically much faster to load, Christ said.
The school began developing the application for iPads, iPhones and Android devices in June with help from Silicon Valley-based technology company iCampus, which specializes in developing mobile applications for higher education institutions.
There was no cost for developing the app with iCampus, said Christ, as the university opted for a downsized version of what the company offers.
Christ said the university is considering expanding the application. Any more upgrades to the app would cost SOU at least 50 cents per student, but no more than $1.50 per student, according to iCampus' pricing scheme.
"Were looking at adding in additional functionality," said Chirst. "We are currently negotiating costs."
The application is available at Apple's online store, and for Android devices at Google's online Play store.
The application also can be accessed at http://m.sou.edu.
Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email email@example.com.