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UALR Mobile app has too many flaws, needs direction

Submitted by Jacob Ellerbee on February 21, 2014 – 3:49 pmOne Comment

UALR announced late in January that the official “UALR Mobile” app received its first update since May and its third overall update since launching in September 2012.

Version 3.0 of the app is currently only available for iPhone and iPad. (Note: At the time this was written, the Android version of the app had not been updated, however, version 2.0 of the app is still available for Android users to download.)

For iPhone users, many would expect the UALR Mobile app to match the aesthetic of Apple’s iOS 7 operating system, which launched in September and according to Apple, has been installed by 78 percent of all Apple devices, according to reports released at the end of 2013.

This makes you wonder why the app developers would keep the app running on iOS 6 for a fraction of the remaining Apple products running on the old operating system.

The overall look of the app hasn’t changed very much at all. In fact, casual users of the app will probably not even notice that the app icons are now black instead of a white color. Or, that some of the icons have been renamed.

What was once called “Calendar” on the app has simply been retitled, “Events.”

The “Images” icon is now listed as “Photos.”

The Blackboard icon within the app is now generically listed as “Learn.”

I don’t think the developers should claim to have a “Brand new design,” as they do on the app store under the “What’s New” in this version. The design changes are minor at best.

Some of the other features listed under the “What’s New” section on the app store aren’t actually working or being used.

The new “UALR Tour” icon works well, but it doesn’t fit-in with most of the content in the app. Most of the content in the app seems to be catered toward current students.

With there being an app to locate where you can hop on the trolley, find out what kind of events are happening this weekend on campus and a portal for Blackboard, those seem to be for students who are already on campus. Current students don’t need to be able to take a tour of the campus. A simple map, which is already included in the app, is sufficient.

Another missed opportunity in this update is the KUAR radio stream. After multiple attempts of tuning in, the broadcast was unable to stream. There were no error messages, buffering signals or anything. Simply radio silence.

Another new feature the developers included in this app is a non-functioning “Polls” icon. Sitting within a 10-mile radius of the school and opening the “Polls” icon in the app, a message pops up that says “there aren’t any polls near you…Try searching above.”

The Directory is not utilized efficiently, either. You can find virtually any email address you want, as long as you know how to spell your recipient’s name. There is no predictive text feature to help you find the right person you are emailing.  There are no telephone numbers either, which would make sense to have since most people will be accessing this directory from a phone in which a quick phone call may be the most efficient thing to do.

Some of the first videos you encounter under the “Video” icon take you to videos that were uploaded about 4 years ago.

Overall, this could be a very helpful and useful app, but there are too many flaws to keep students and faculty from using “UALR Mobile”. The application is opened more than 400 times per day (across Androind and iOS platforms) according to data provided by Erica Roy of Information Technology Services. If some of these flaws are amended, the current user base could expand exponentially.

The developers should go back to the drawing board and decide if this app is for current students or for potential students who may download an app to learn more about the university.





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