NIU launches its first smartphone app

By Shelby Devitt

DeKALB | NIU launched NIU Mobile, a new free application for smartphones, in anticipation of the upcoming school year.

The NIU Mobile website allows users to select their type of phone to view a list of the features included in the new app and previews of pages as they would look on iPhones and Androids. Other phones with internet access can simply use the website as though it were an app.

NIU Mobile first appeared on Apple products and has been available since May 30. It is available for free in the Apple App Store and Android Marketplace.

Palm debuted the app a few weeks ago and Blackberry is expected to carry NIU Mobile in the near future, said Brad Hoey, team leader of NIU Media Relations and Internal Communications.

“Much of [app availability] has more to do with the manufacturer of the device than the app,” Hoey said.

Features of NIU Mobile include maps of campus, Blackboard Mobile, NIU Today news updates, athletics, school contact directory, aspects of MyNIU, emergency info, calendar of events and videos.

In the future, dining hall menus, Huskie Bus Tracker, and self-guided tours of campus will be added. Users will also have the ability to purchase tickets to Huskie Athletic games and events at the Convocation Center. The additions will be made by the next school year, Hoey said.

While Hoey said he thinks the library and Blackboard features will be the most useful to students, NIU Mobile is not just for current Huskies.

“It’s a tool that can be used by students, faculty, staff and fans of NIU,” Hoey said. Hoey explained how a feature like maps of the NIU campus could potentially help visitors and prospective students explore the university.

As fall semester approaches, some students may download and explore with the app.

“It’ll be useful,” said senior English major Steven Kieslar. “I’ll probably use it more than Angry Birds, but not as much as Words With Friends.”

Other students agree with Kieslar when it comes to staying involved with NIU though technology.

“Students especially have asked for a way to connect with NIU through their mobile devices,” said Jennice O’Brien, director of Web Communications in the Division of University Relations, in a press release.