UT’s Mobile News App Design class held a Demo Day Saturday afternoon in the Belo Center for New Media to showcase five iPhone apps the class has created over the course of the semester.
The class, taught and created by senior journalism lecturer Robert Quigley, divided a mix of journalism and computer science students into five groups and asked them to create a mobile news app. Quigley said the students’ excitement about the concept of the class fueled their creations.
“There was some cross-learning going on, which was one of the goals of having this class,” Quigley said. “I hope this class got the journalism students excited about the possibilities of technology and I hope the computer science students have a new understanding of communications.”
During the Demo Day, each group was given an opportunity to come before a panel of judges including Wanda Cash, associate director of the UT School of Journalism; Debbie Hiott, editor of the Austin American Statesman; Rodney Gibbs of the Texas Tribune; Carmen Cano of Dallas Morning News; Gerald Bailey, co-founder of Snakehead Software and Christopher Visit, co-owner of Frank+Victor Design. Quigley selected the media judges and Josh McClure, an Austin iPhone developer who worked with the class in their app development throughout the semester, chose the tech judges.
The app to win Best Overall App was “Glos Guide for Journalists,” a mobile style reference guide. The “Glos” team began its presentation by asking volunteers to look through a traditional hard copy of the AP Style guide and “Glos,” and find the rule concerning the capitalization of cardinal directions.
“The activity showcased the timesaving efficiency of ‘Glos,’” said Ryan Niemann, computer science senior and Glos team member.
“‘Glos’ saves journalists time and money because they no longer have to go through the slow process of searching through a bulky paper catalog to find information about journalistic style,” Niemann said. “They no longer have to pay for an expensive hardcopy of a style guide–they can purchase ‘Glos’ for only ninety-nine cents.”
“Pxljam,” a photo-sharing app intended to connect music lovers to their favorite artists and concert experiences, won both the award for “Best Design” and “Best Commercial Value.” “PicBook,” an app that allows its users to create digital scrapbooks, was deemed “Most Original.” “Prix-Party,” an event-guide for F1 racing in Austin, was awarded “Best Presentation.”
Journalism and Portuguese senior Meleena Loseke worked to develop “nerv,” an app designed to make local news and hotspots easily accessible to travelers, and said the cohesion of the groups was important in the class’s creations.
“No matter if we were creating code for the app or coming up with communication initiatives, Quigley stressed that we were each considered a ‘developer,’” Loseke said. “This experience has taught me that teams can accomplish some pretty incredible things if each member plays to his or her own strengths, which my team did.”