New DrexelOne app makes debut | The Triangle

New DrexelOne app makes debut

Ajon Brodie
Ajon Brodie

Drexel’s Office of Information Resources & Technology released the new DrexelOne app, dubbed “DrexelOne 3,” for iOS on Sept. 14.

The iOS version is the most recent update of the DrexelOne mobile app project developed by several members of IRT, released in time for the new academic year. Previous updates released have been for Windows Phone in October 2013, and Android earlier this year in January.

“We redesigned [DrexelOne 3 for iOS] to flow with the new iPhone visual style that came with Apple’s iOS update; it’s like a whole rewrite,” Kenneth Blackney, associate vice president for core technology infrastructure, said. “We wanted DrexelOne 3 to look like it belongs on the phone itself despite the three main, different operating systems.

“Previously, you could only perform certain functions on each of the operating systems,” Blackney continued. “For example, you could upload ‘Candid Campus’ photos with the Windows Phone, but not with the iPhone or Android. We’re trying to equalize all functions across the operating systems and close the feature gaps.”

Currently, the photo-uploading feature is available for both the Windows Phone and Android versions, developed by Blackney himself and Senior Software Developer Charles Dennis respectively. This feature is still in the works for the iOS version because the recent iOS 8.0 update has caused a backlog of updates on the App Store. “It should be up in a couple of weeks,” Blackney said.

The new iOS app, developed by software developer Stephen Tolton, features a more sophisticated campus map, in which students are able to filter their search for campus buildings, ATMs, Hydration Stations, bike racks, food and shopping. The map also provides a “Google Street View”-type photograph along with a description of the search result. For results without an image, students are encouraged to upload their own photograph to the app.

Resident assistant Michael Wade said, “The format isn’t anything grand but it’s easy to use. The map of campus will come in handy to explain things to my residents.”

“I like that there’s more information displayed,” pre-junior product design student Noella Deonarain said. “The layout is much more friendly to use and appealing.”

The new app is designed to help faculty and staff as well. Staff can view leave balances; faculty can access photo class lists view the student engagement metrics on Blackboard Learn; and students can access emails and view their advisors.

Other features include an improved bus shuttle schedule, which utilizes the phone’s GPS connection to track and update the best routes to travel between campuses, the ability to add users’ schedules to their phones’ calendar application, and quick access to athletics information. Students can also check updated menus for the Handschumacher Dining Center, filter for vegan and vegetarian options as well as view complete nutrition information for the offerings at the student dining hall.

Another big upgrade is cached data, which saves information in the app itself even after the app is closed. This is a big change from users having to reenter their Drexel ID and password into the app every time they opened it, which was the case with the old version, now named “DrexelOne Classic.”

“Offline caching was actually a student suggestion,” Blackney said, “We try to establish a dialogue with the students.” The IRT uses UserVoice, Reddit and even impromptu surveys in the lobby of the Korman Computing Center for student feedback.

However, some students have voiced that they have not heard much information regarding the new app.

“I honestly didn’t even know until yesterday that there was a new app. I don’t check the old one enough to really notice things that quickly,” Dylan Stempel, a pre-junior health sciences student, said.

Blackney said he hopes student input will increase because crowdsourcing has been helpful to the development of the DrexelOne mobile app project. Student feedback also played a part in the DrexelOne website redesign, which was launched Sept. 18.

“Engaging in the exchange of ideas with students is really helpful to us,” he said, “They shape the ideas we have and the direction in which we bring our services.”