Opinion, Staff Editorial

UMiami app redesign overdue

In April, the university launched a sleek, redesigned website to replace the plain, lackluster homepage that many encountered when first applying to the University of Miami. The dull greens and oranges were superseded by vibrant, graceful color schemes and plain pictures were replaced by eye-catching slideshows. It was visually appealing, well-organized and easy to use.

With the new polished website, it is high time for the UMiamiMobile phone application to catch up. The current application, last updated in 2012, is designed for the iPhone 4 screen and is in desperate need of an update. The app’s website, www.miami.edu/mobile, features pictures of devices rarely found in stores today.

Much like the phone it was designed for, the user-unfriendly application has not realized its full potential. The application includes 17 features, most of which are dysfunctional and outdated.

Some of the features have become embarrassingly neglected. The “Videos” feature has one broken link and the “Images” feature is a static album of 100 photos that has not been updated for years. However, students particularly attached to the old standalone Rathskeller would be happy to see that it still exists in the application’s school map.

More frequently-used applications, such as shuttle tracking and UM dining, are hard to navigate and often glitchy. Switching back and forth between pages is tedious, and sometimes the information displayed, including shuttle times or dining facility hours, is inaccurate or loads very slowly.

If the application’s purpose is to be an effective one-stop shop for all things UM-related, then it must develop a cleaner interface, update its information and fix glitches. If it’s meant to be a useful tool, the application needs to remove unnecessary functions and add features that meet students’ practical needs, such as reserving rooms in the library or navigating to classrooms.

An update is extremely plausible; Mosaic, the app developer that took over for the original UMiami platform, Blackboard Mobile Central, has already updated interfaces for other university clients for newer operating systems. In addition, many of Mosaic’s previous clients, such as fellow ACC school Duke, have left Mosaic’s platform and published their own, streamlined application.

If an improved product was released, well-maintained and widely promoted across campus, it would be much more frequently used by students. But for now, it feels as if the UMiami app exists simply for the sake of having an app. A digital makeover is long overdue.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Miami Hurricane editorial board. 

September 13, 2015

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