Rutgers developers create Targum mobile app

A new mobile application for The Daily Targum is now available for iPhone users and will soon be available for Android users.

Readers of the University’s newspaper are able to read articles, view pictures and now use a search feature in the app, said Nis Frome, co-organizer of Rutgers Mobile App Development.

RuMAD works on projects for the local community, and has grown to become one of the largest and most active app design meet ups on the East Coast, Frome said. Students interested in computer science who wanted to put their knowledge of app design into practical use started the group about a year and a half ago.

Frome, a Rutgers Business School junior, said the publication approached RuMAD asking to update the previous app to something more tailored to the needs of the paper.

“We were approached by the Targum business office, and they asked us if we could design a new app for them,” he said. “We told them we could, and went from there. They wanted to shift and bring Targum to the readers.”

Ashley Magno, business manager of Targum Publishing Company, said the older app did not cater to students’ needs. When deciding to update the app, the paper felt they should work with University students instead of an outside company.

Kenneth Bambridge, a junior developer for RuMAD, said the new app takes elements the design team liked from other publications’ apps, and combines them for the Targum app.

“A lot of news apps have been made before. We looked at other apps that we found in the app store and modeled this one off them,” said Bambridge, a School of Engineering first-year student.

The new app is designed specifically for the Targum, he said. Before starting work on it, the design had to be approved by the Targum’s business office.

Frome said Targum staff selected all the apps that were looked at, and were involved in the design process to ensure their satisfaction. The older application was a general-use app, and just had Targum information fed into it.

“A lot of people are grateful and wondering why it hasn’t been done before,” Frome said. “People find it simple and fast, and I think a lot of people may move to this exclusively. It lets them get the news they want really quick, as opposed to the paper.”

When designing the app, Bambridge said RuMAD had to come up with two versions. The first laid out the design, but was slow pulling information from the Targum website.

The app gets the story information from the Rich Site Summary feed, Bambridge said. If the data pulled from the feed were too large, it would cause the app to crash. This version also had problems with formatting text.

RuMAD lead developer, Will Langford, came up with a solution and created a server to store the information.

Langford, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said he wanted to come up with a way of getting around having to pull the information directly from the Targum website. The idea was to put the weight on another platform, where it could be pulled from and republished.

The server acted as an intermediary, pulling data from the site and reformatting it the way the app needed, Frome said. The first version of the app took about a week to complete, the second version took about two weeks.

The app has received positive reviews, he said. Feedback has been good, and people who use the app like the interface. While the app currently has over 100 downloads in the Apple App Store, RuMAD projects that it will net about 3,000 downloads per year.

Skylar Frederick, acting editor-in-chief of The Daily Targum, said the mobile app ensures the paper reaches students on every level possible. Students are always on their phones and the app makes it easier for them to stay connected to the University.

Frederick, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said the older app was very basic, while the new app is interactive and up-to-date.

“Stories now refresh when you pull the screen down,” she said. “[Readers] can also now send an e-mail right from the app. You can send in sports and news tips, or contact the business office.”

Magno, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said the Targum plans to continue to work with the developers and add features.

“We are eventually looking to add a University calendar,” she said. “A person could then open the app and see what is going on at the University.”

Recently, he said RuMAD won the award of “Number 1 Club on Campus” by a reverse career fair. Companies compete in programming competitions flew the founding students of RuMAD around the nation.

Magno said she hopes students will download the app and stay connected with the University and the Daily Targum.

“People don’t pick up the paper like they used to. Now, everyone is on [his or her] iPhone and Droid. They can get news on the go,” she said. “This is the easiest way to stay in touch with us and the University, and it’s right at your fingertips.”

The Android app will hopefully be available for download by the end of this week, Frome said.

To download the app, click here


By Shawn Smith

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Targum.