Tufts Student Services releases new mobile app

TCU Senator Adam Rapfogel holds up his phone, displaying the new Tufts Mobile app in Tisch Library on Sept. 18. (Max Lalanne / The Tufts Daily)

Tufts Student Services released the Tufts Mobile app earlier this fall in collaboration with Tufts Technology Services (TTS) and the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate. The app was created in order to better provide students with resources on their mobile devices.

Tufts Mobile’s current features include a showcase of dining hall menus, a university shuttle tracker, a university calendar, a laundry machine monitoring system and links to other online Tufts resources such as Trunk and SIS.

According to Student Services Communications Specialist Caitlin Felsman Pfitzer, the application was officially launched on Aug. 30 in order to coincide with the arrival of incoming first years.

“We wanted to try to get it out by orientation week because when people go through their first year, they develop habits in terms of the things they know to use to guide them around Tufts,” TCU Senator Adam Rapfogel, who took on the project within the TCU Senate, said. “We were able to make sure first-years had access to it… and that they would make it part of their Tufts experience and use it throughout all four years.”

Felsman Pfitzer said that the app’s launch was successful, noting that the app had the same number of downloads as tufts.edu had visitors on the first day of Orientation Week.

According to Service Marketing and Communications Manager Christine Fitzgerald, who worked on the new mobile app’s development and launch, students will see new added features as time progresses. Future additions include a section for the Office of Sustainability and opportunities for personalization, they said.

“One of the things that we’ve been working on [is]… looking at what we can do with meal swipes at dining halls so that people can really get a real-time look at how many meals they have and what their declining balance is,” Felsman Pfitzer said. “We’re exploring what we can do with login so it can be more personalized.”

Fitzgerald added that in addition to new features for students, new personas for the app might be developed for Tufts staff and faculty.

“I’m sure we’ll be looking at administration and faculty as we go along, and possibly even researchers,” Fitzgerald said.

These updates are all part of an effort to keep the app updated for students, according to Felsman Pfitzer.

“We’re committed to keeping it fresh and relevant for students so we’re actually really looking for student feedback,” Felsman Pfitzer said. “There’s a feedback button on the app so you can tell us what you like and what you don’t like.”

The new app has been in the works since April 2016, when junior Max Hirsch first proposed the idea, according to Rapfogel.

“It was actually Max who reached out to Student Services, and they were very, very receptive to the idea and extremely helpful with everything,” he said. “The final product was very much a collaboration, and the administrators who coded it did all the work for it.”

According to Felsman PfitzeriJumbo, the student-created resource app for Tufts students, has not been maintained since its creator graduated from Tufts.

“Often what happens is we have undergrads with great ideas, and they start working on a project and launch things sometimes like iJumbo or Tufts Life, and then somebody goes abroad or graduates and then the leadership isn’t there to sort of keep things moving along so we get the benefits of an innovative idea [working] for a couple of years, and then it’s not sustained,” Felsman Pfitzer said.

Overhauling iJumbo would have been an expensive endeavor, so the new Tufts Mobile app was built on an existing third-party platform called Modo Labs’ Kurogo platform, according to Felsman Pfitzer.

“Starting from scratch would have been really costly. What we did here is we created a persona on an app that already exists, [and] Tufts Mobile is something we already paid for,” Felsman Pfitzer said. “To create a persona is in the seven [to] eight thousand dollar category rather than starting from scratch, which is much more than that.”