iStanford 2.0 released
The suite of iPhone applications that made the university's course catalog, campus map and other resources mobile just got slicker. On March 6, the team of entrepreneurial students who launched iStanford last fall debuted version 2.0 of the suite for download through Apple's App Store.
Along with upgrades to current applications, such as real-time animation on the campus map and live scores for Stanford basketball games, the suite includes an entirely new application that allows iPhone users to access the university's events calendar—along with an entirely new look.
"The difference is a complete redesign," said Kayvon Beykpour, a computer science major at Stanford who was tapped by university administrators to develop the first version of iStanford. "Every single application that people had was redesigned and beautified. It looks much nicer, works much better."
Beykpour is CEO of Terriblyclever Design, a web services company that he co-founded with childhood friend Joseph Bernstein. Along with Beykpour, the San Francisco startup includes fellow Stanford juniors Aaron Wasserman, Jay Bhat, Pablo Jablonski and Ben Cunningham.
Since iStanford was first launched in October 2008, Beykpour and company have achieved national notice. Starting with winning the $10,000 grand prize for AT&T's "Big Mobile on Campus" contest for best smartphone application, the students have been introduced to university officers around the country. One job they secured was with Duke University, which unveiled its own version of iStanford this month. It's called DukeMobile.
Beykpour and Wasserman, one of Terriblyclever's managing partners, call the adaptable mobile platform for educational institutions MobilEdu (http://medu.com). The suites that have been launched so far are available for free through Apple and can be used on either an iPhone or iPod touch.
"I think entrepreneurialism is in the DNA of Stanford," said University Registrar Tom Black. "Inventiveness is what people come to Stanford for. They expect it, they look for it, they want to be part of it."
The idea to mobilize Stanford's web-based resources and systems—including the one students use to browse, add and drop classes—began with a conversation Black had with Apple's campus representative about a year ago. The company put Black, a devoted iPhone user, in touch with Beykpour, one of Apple's student evangelists.
Beykpour and his classmates at Terriblyclever, which was founded in 2007, took their firsthand knowledge of what resources matter most to students at Stanford and got to work. In the fall of 2008, they debuted iStanford 1.0. In addition to mobile versions of the university's course catalog and campus map, the suite included applications for Stanford's online directory and athletics.
The new application in version 2.0 accesses the university calendar and allows users to browse events by category, day or month. Other improvements include more accurate and dynamic GPS locating on campus with the "maps" application, while with the "courses" application, students can now connect directly to Axess, Stanford's vendor-supplied portal that students use for course management and employees use for personnel records.
"One of the really exciting things about this is we're introducing this new platform into the university setting and actually writing applications to it that interface with administrative systems," said Tim Flood, director of student affairs information systems.
Wasserman added that, initially, the plan was to offer each application as individual downloads. But it soon became clear that packaging them as one suite would make for a stronger and more seamless experience—integrating the Stanford directory with the course listings or campus map, for example. "Here because it's all in one, you can just hit the teacher's name and it takes you to the directory or hit the room and it takes you to the map," said Wasserman, an economics major at Stanford.
By the end of the school year, the students expect to launch a feature for looking up the schedules of the different Stanford Marguerite shuttle routes and locating where each bus is in real time. And over the summer, Flood said they may begin beta testing the ability to add and drop courses via iStanford, with the hope that the feature can go live next fall.
Eventually, however, Black said he would like to see the iPhone replace student identification cards—which is sort of how iStanford was born. When Black first presented his grand vision to Apple last spring, he wanted to see if there was a way to improve his office's services via mobile technology and enhance the experience students have when they interface with Stanford's administrative systems.
And by mobile, Black meant via an iPhone, which he proudly held up in his office during a recent sit-down with Flood, Wasserman and Beykpour. He described the iconic device as having a "transformative" influence on his professional life.
"This is something that the students will not leave in their dorm room. They'll take it everywhere they go," Black said. "I'd like to see this going far enough to replace the ID card."