ITS launches USCmobile to give users instant information

All the latest USC news and information can now be carried around in a purse or pants pocket.

The recently launched USCmobile program allows smartphone users to access USC news and information on a streamlined web browsing program designed specifically for mobile phones.

Members of the USC community can visit to view the mobile site and can add the program to a phone’s home screen or bookmark it. USCmobile differs from the regular USC website in that its format is made especially to be read on a smaller screen. Unlike some other mobile applications where someone must scroll up and down to see content, USCmobile is formatted in an easy-to-read layout with simple navigation.

“In the coming years, mobile communication is going to be a really important area,” said Kevin Durkin, director of communications for USC’s Information and Technology Services. “We want to optimize access by smartphones so people at USC can reach their target audience. We feel this is a very important first step.”

Developers at ITS began working on USCmobile because of the increasing use of smartphones, including iPhones, Droids and BlackBerries, around campus.

ITS started working on this program in fall 2009. Initially, the department hoped just to make existing versions of USC web content more accessible, but then decided to create a whole new mobile website instead.

The site lets users access the full student directory, USC maps that are searchable by category or building name, and an arts and events calendar. In addition, the Track a Tram feature shows the location of USC trams in real time, and the USC News, USC Reader, USC Twitter and Daily Trojan tabs display the latest and most popular posts.

Students were particularly drawn to the Track a Tram capability.

“USCmobile is an efficient way to get information fast,” said Ashley Harlow, a sophomore majoring in sociology and social science. “I especially like the Track a Tram feature. It saves me a lot of time.”

The website also features a feedback button, which enables USCmobile users to send questions, comments and suggestions to ITS developers.

“We want people to tell us what they want to see next or ways to improve what’s already up there,” Durkin said. “If we get feedback, we’ll be able to make it so it’s exactly what students are asking for.”

Some USCmobile users have already offered their suggestions on how to enhance the program.

“Athletic information, like scores and schedules, could be easier to get to,” said Ariana Case, a freshman majoring in communication.

Some students, however, didn’t see much use for the program.

“I don’t have a smartphone, but even if I did I don’t think this would be something necessary to use,” said Park Desloge, an undeclared freshman.