A little while ago, I read an article about oMbiel‘s mobile app for universities, CampusM. I’d hear about it on Twitter, and the University of Sheffield’s recent implementation, but the article in Talis’ Panlibus magazine gave more context into just how much information was available in the app.
I thought I’d find out more, and was able to get a copy of the app from the App Store on my iPhone. Of course, I’m not a member of the University of Sheffield so many of the features I cannot use, but a brief overview of the features are shown on the homescreen:
The Directory, Course Details, and Library sections require a login (understandably!), but I’ve been able to access the Locations section (useful if you are visiting a University – can see potential here for use on Open Days), and I was really impressed by the functionality. Not only can you view a zoomable map within the app, you can also view each building on the campus map, on a Google Map or even get specific directions (again using Google Maps). You can also add a building as a favourite, which could be particularly useful if you are on campus a lot and need to use computers, as one of the killer features for me was being able to tell how many free PCs are available at any one time directly from the app (see screenshot – earlier this afternoon there were 37 PCs free in the Library!). You can also check printing facilities and again find where they are located either on the map within CampusM, or on Google Maps.
Most of this data was already available from the University of Sheffield, and is not difficult to implement, but what’s really great about CampusM is that it brings all that data together in one neat, easy to use application. I’ve watched the YouTube video demoing the key features of CampusM, and I wish I was a member of the University of Sheffield so I could give it a go! The library section looks particularly easy to use, which is promising for future app development.
There seems to be a lot of interest in developing mobile apps for Universities, MIT recently released an iPhone app which includes GPS tracking of campus buses, something I’d be particularly interested in as I use the campus shuttle buses to get to and from work every day! I believe oMbiel are currently talking to a number of Universities about developing a CampusM app for them (I noticed mention of a further event earlier today), so I hope to see more in the future, I do love mobile apps!