The Updated UAlbany App
By Milo Votava
For the first time since its debut in 2014, the University at Albany’s mobile app, available on both Apple and Android devices, recieved a much-needed update on Jan. 14. Besides changing the home screen from a tiled menu of different features to a background image of the main campus’s iconic fountains, the developers added some much-needed changes to the app. However, while it’s a lot better than it was, the app has a long way to go to be truly helpful.
All the options are still there, but the way users access them has changed. To get to them now, users need to press the smaller list option in the upper left corner. All the options can now be found on a list that appears on the left side of the screen, overlaying the image of the fountains. This is a rather annoying feature since users cannot get out of this menu unless they press the home button on the bottom of the screen, but some students find the aesthetic appeal of the background image worth the struggle.
The UAlbany app also allows students to log on with their MyUAlbany account username and password. This gives students the option to check things such as their GPA and schedule straight from the app. However, this feature can also be annoying because it logs users off if the user closes the app, but not if the user switch tabs on their phone.
One of the nicest options that the newly updated app has is a ribbon at the bottom of the screen. Its position is fixed, and even navigating to other pages of the app will not take it off the screen. This can be a problem, especially since users can’t get back to the previous page if they accidentally press the home button.
The ribbon does have easy access to the features that UAlbany students used most on the original version of the app, like the CDTA bus schedule and the laundry application, which lets students check if the dryers in their building are available.
Overall, the app feels like it’s more focused on aesthetics than function. While it looks a lot more streamlined, modern, and is a great improvement from what it used to be, some of the menu functions are more of a hindrance than an improvement.
It is nice to see that the app creator listened to the suggestions he received from its users, and that he seems truly committed to giving all the relevant information about campus to those who need it. However, they have missed some essential functions like being able to access email. The next update should focus more on the functions of the app, and streamlining them to be easier to use, instead of focusing on how the app looks.