AppWars: Griffith App vs. QUT Mobile

griffith v qut
Posted under: Uni iPhoneApp Reviews 3rd of May, 2011

It seems that universities are mainly concerned with their immediate competitors, who are vying for the same promising group of new students. Today’s matchup: Griffith University and Queensland University of Technology, both based in Queensland. Both iPhone apps have their strengths and weaknesses, but in my assessment, QUT prevailed.

Features Griffith University Queensland University of Technology
Layout 3/5 3/5
News 2/5 3/5
Contacts 2/5 4/5
Maps 3/5 3/5
Travel 1/5 2/5
Computer Availability 3/5 0/5
User-specific Features 1/5 2/5
Overall 15/35 17/35

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The format of my analysis will be as follows, a brief piece about the various aspects that should be included in a university iPhone App and how each university has tried to fulfil these needs.

Features

Griffith University

Queensland University of Technology

Layout The Home Screen has the news incorporated into it, with a menu of buttons below the news feed.  The addition of the news in the home screen gives the app a more professional feeling, however I believe that not all users would be interested. Adding the functionality to change the news feed into a recently used list or a favourite’s list created by the user would greatly improve this. The Home Screen mimics the iPhone’s standard layout, a screen full of tiled icons with extra functionality at the bottom of the screen. Though simplistic and replicated, it is familiar to iPhone users making it user-friendly and easy to use.
News

Both universities use the same delivery system in the use of a news feed, giving the title of the article as well as an excerpt, and providing access to the full article to the user.

As the news feed is provided on the home screen, it is very easy to find. Useful for users who like to be able to scan the articles without having to press an extra button. More pushy. Provided in a visibly labeled icon on the home screen, this approach appeals to users who prefer reading news when they are “in the mood”.
Contacts Accessing the phonebook, brings the user to the website search, which has been reworked for mobiles and smart phones. It contains all the standard information you would expect in a directory.  However, the website has not been fully optimised or formatted for the iPhone and therefore is messy and not easy to read. Integrated into the app itself, the Staff Directory contains information regarding each and every one of the staff on or off campus. Furthermore, the Phone number, the Email and Office Address are connected with the iPhone’s software for additional features, pressing the number calls it, the email opens up a new email to the lecturer or tutor, and most notably, the Office Address when pressed, goes to the google map, labelling the building that their Office is in.
Maps Griffith uses “homegrown” maps of all of their campuses. A building locator is included to help identify buildings and their specific codes. They have also managed to display the location of the user when they are on campus as well as give directions to a specific building from their current location.  There are a few bugs in some of the features that do need to be fixed, to help improve it. With the addition of overlays, QUT has used google map to display all of their campuses.  Incorporating and using google map, has allowed them to place letters on all their buildings. These letters correspond to the building actual block letter “A Block”, which is used by the student timetables, Blackboard, and the News Feed.  Furthermore, by clicking the letters, information about who occupies the building is then given to the user.  Other overlays included are, but not limited to, “Outdoor Relaxation Areas”, Food/Vending Machines, Parking
Travel Using their “homegrown” map and the provided legend, users are able to locate utilities like bus stops, carparks, and taxi ranks.  Also included is a bus timetable for bus routes, however it does not seem to be working currently. Using the overlays on GoogleMap, users are able to see the locations of all carparks available to them on all campuses.  Currently in progress and expected to be implemented in future updates, are intercampus bus timetables, but currently unavailable.
Computer Availability

The last thing a student wants, when on campus, is to be unable to find an available pc to use, so this is considered to be an incredibly useful feature.

Provided in a campus-specific format, it displays all available computers located in all labs of each building on each campus.  Presented in Alpha-numeric order (e.g G01 1.00), when a specific lab is selected, the campus map is brought up with the location of the building the lab is in, marked. Not yet available from QUT, however based on the amount of information regarding computer availability on the QUT Intranet, a likely future feature to be implemented.
User-specific Features The student email has been included in the app through a link that opens the safari browser to the University Student Email Login. Extra features become available to the user via logging in using a QUT User ID. The ability to check the status on books currently on request and checked out, as well as when books were due back. Upcoming features include being able to extend the time for borrowing books.   Users are also able to book rooms in the libraries for studying and group work.

Both universities have features that most students and staff would consider to be useful for everyday university needs.  Comparing them, I would say Griffith has a more professional look, while QUT has opted for the “classic iPhone” look – I prefer it because it’s familiar.

For Griffith, the feature I like most is computer availability, however, it could be improved by better clustering of labs by building. Other areas for improvement is to reduce the number of overall bugs – looks like it was released prematurely.

For QUT, the overlays on the maps to easily and visually find locations, and the iPhone-friendly staff directory and locations were the highlights. If QUT went ahead with all the improvements they flag (particularly, intercampus bus-times, class timetables and Blackboard), as well as providing computer availability, it would further improve improve their rating.

Leave a comment if you agree or disagree with my analysis.

Coming up, my wishlist of Google Map vs Campus Map, and others.



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