Greater focus on mobile development

Greater focus on mobile development

It seems everyone has a smartphone these days, and mobile devices now account for more than a quarter of all Internet traffic, according to a Boy Genius Report. First-year UI students are among the first generation to grow up with the devices, so using them comes naturally.

To cater to this trend and to meet the needs of today’s students, ITS is ramping up mobile development efforts. New and enhanced mobile applications provide easy access to useful information about the university, and the campus can look forward to more apps and mobile-friendly websites in the future.


HawkTools is a new mobile application designed specifically for UI students. Within three months of its August 2013 launch, there were nearly 3,000 iPhone and Android downloads of the app.

The app allows students to view open laundry machines on campus, access course-management and student record systems, check e-mail, and view menus for the Burge and Hillcrest dining halls. HawkTools provides a connection to Bongo (Bus on the Go), where they can track arrival times of Cambus and city buses. 

The app also provides access to the On Iowa website, an orientation resource for first-year students. During On Iowa weekend, just prior to the start of the fall semester, 40 percent of traffic to the site was mobile.

UI Mobile

UI Mobile is an app designed for campus guests—like families of current students here for Family Weekend, prospective students and their families on campus visits, or alumni returning to town. This app provides access to athletic game schedules, events occurring in Iowa City, and links to the UI’s social media sites.

What’s new?

Previously, Hawktools and UI Mobile were combined in one application. But certain features didn’t apply to all users—for example, visitors didn’t need access to course-management systems, laundry availability, or residence hall menus. Splitting up the app allowed for less confusion and more usage for everyone.

ITS also introduced a new version of Bongo for Apple, and in the fall 2013 semester alone, it was downloaded more than 4,000 times. An updated version for Android is coming soon.

What’s Next?

The next step is bringing more UI websites to mobile using responsive design tools. In collaboration with University Communication and Marketing and Facilities Management, the ITS web development team wrapped up work on a new campus maps site at the end of 2013. The next step will be to make the site accessible via the HawkTools and UI Mobile apps.

Faculty, staff, and students are also developing innovative new apps. ITS maintains UI’s iOS license, so other mobile developers work through ITS to release apps. The license requires that the apps be free to users.