OPINION: K-State Mobile app review

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Kansas State unveiled an updated version of the K-State Mobile Application in August 2016.

The app is visually appealing, neatly organized and contains an approachable iconography layout. According to an Aug. 25, 2016 K-State Communications and Marketing press release, the app is especially useful to new students at the university.

In an effort to examine the practicality, functionality and overall convenience of the application, I explored the app’s 21 icons. Some are more useful than others, while some left me totally bewildered, even as a seasoned K-Stater.

The useful features:
“Map” icon: When it comes to trekking through campus, this section beats your phone’s default map app by a long shot. Buildings and areas are fully animated and labeled.

“People” icon: A simple, easy-to-use version of the K-State white pages. Find any K-Stater by searching with their name or eID.

“Parking Garage” icon: This one gets an A for the day. No redirection, no pop-ups, just clear charts showing the percentages of availability for access into parking areas and garages.

“Sports” icon: This section lists all of the K-State sports and allows you to check schedules and upcoming events pertaining to each activity. Straightforward with a simple layout.

“Campus Dining” icon: This one is a gold mine that includes all the information you would ever need to have a pleasant on-campus dining experience. It lists menus and serving hours for the campus dining halls, restaurants, cafes and coffee shops. There is information found here you would not be able to get from a quick Google search. One of the coolest features in this section is the calorie calculator which sums calorie-intake based on items selected from the dining hall menus.

“Events” icon: You can never go wrong with a well-made university calendar, and that is exactly what this section is. There is even a nice little bookmarking option that makes marking upcoming affairs a delight.

“Social” icon: Live updates from every official K-State Twitter and Facebook account. The best part is that there is no following, liking or sign-in necessary.

“Videos” icon: Essentially a listing of all recently-published K-State informational videos that is set up similarly to a YouTube channel.

“Transit” icon: Though there are page redirections galore, this section contains lots of neat content, including interactive bicycle maps of Manhattan. It also includes charts and explanations of bus route maps.

“Emergency” icon: A listing compiling every K-State emergency resource. The automatic call options make this section an invaluable addition to the app.

Room for improvement:
“Connect” icon: Redirects you to your eProfile under the K-State website’s Connect page. A pro is that there is always useful, important information found here including password management options, alert settings, as well as your Cat Cash and PaperCut balance information. One con is that the K-State website’s mobile version is not very different from the desktop version, so therefore not incredibly user-friendly. In a better app, the eProfile page could be accessed within the application itself instead of redirecting users to a web browser.=

“K-State Today News” icon: Wonderfully displays the day’s university news updates. The downside to this section is you can only view the updates of the present day and nothing older. The website is probably the more useful option if you are looking for information older than 24 hours.

“Libraries” icon: Awesome library stack maps and research guides make this section respectfully ambitious. But as a student with four years of research under my belt, I would recommend using the desktop versions of the library research portals.

“Course Catalog” and “IT Help Desk” icons: No unique mobile variations for the course catalog and IT Help Desk icons. Merely a redirection to the K-State website. Furthermore, as an employee at the IT help desk, I can affirm if you contact the IT Help Desk, I will ask you to have a computer available anyway.

The mysterious icons:
“K-State 360” icon: As a student beginning his fifth year of his undergraduate career, I had never heard of K-State 360 before seeing the icon. When you click the icon, a foreboding, incorrectly punctuated message appears asking you if you are sure you would like to participate with no information or explanation as to what exactly you will be participating in. The decline option literally says, “Get me outta here,” which does not help sell the program at all. I am sure whatever K-State 360 is, it is lovely and helpful. But based on this app’s presentation, it is a total enigma.

“Offices Directory” icon: The layout is similar to the People search tool, but the search results are virtually nonexistent. It instructs you to “search by department.” I searched with phrases such as “English,” “Mass Communications,” “Theatre,” “iTAC,” “Financial Aid,” “Kedzie” and even some professor names. No results were given. This tool definitely needs improvement.

“Student Services” icon: Leads to nothing. Blank pages do not make friends.

The K-State Mobile application is not the app to end all apps. There is enough redirection to other apps and programs for it to be considered a good starting point rather than a bare necessity. But download it? Yes. I discovered enough useful content for at least a temporary download, especially if you are new to K-State.

The way I see it, the more users, the better. This way, suggestions for changes and improvement can be made from those who matter the most: K-Staters.

The K-State Mobile app is available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Nicholas Cady is a senior in mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to [email protected]

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