Photo by Casey Gomez

Fourth-year CS major and creator of the renowned GT Buses app, Alex Perez, noticed a lacking presence from Tech on the App Store. The only existing apps lacked functionality, current information and ease of access. In this, Perez saw opportunity.

“Tech is a technology and engineering school. We should have a presence on the App Store that is an example,” Perez explained.

So he took matters into his own hands, releasing an official, institute endorsed app, called “Georgia Institute of Technology” at the beginning of this semester.

The app, which can be downloaded from the App Store by searching “Georgia Tech,” features a host of new capabilities that did not exist in the previous version of the app.

“It has a different thing for everyone. It has buses if you use the buses a lot, places if you need to find something on campus. It has events and news. It really has whatever you find useful for when you’re on the go,” Perez said.

However, all of these new features did not come without considerable work. Many took countless hours of working and reworking to cater them to the Tech community.

Perez is most proud of the new “Places” capability, which features pictures and directions to every building on campus, one of the very reasons that development took a lot of effort.

“I walked across campus and took over one-thousand pictures, and integrated a lot of outside information so that things like operating hours, nearby bus stops, and up to date photos are available to the user,” stated Perez.

Some might wonder why a new app with all of these features is needed when there already exists a Georgia Tech app. However, as Perez explains, it was in dire need of a reboot.

“It was five years old, it wasn’t updated for any of the new devices, half of the things were broken, it simply wasn’t in line with the technology and engineering capabilities of the Institute,” Perez said of the previous app.

This deficiency inspired Perez to develop and launch the new app as part of his work with the Georgia Tech Research and Network Operations Center (GTRNOC).

The diversity of expertise available through GTRNOC enabled Perez to solicit feedback during the production stage of the Georgia Tech official app.

“I worked on the design, iOS code, and server code which is a lot of it. However, many people in the lab provided feedback. They helped decide what aspects would be good to keep and which should be discarded. They also helped with beta testing,” Perez said.

Much of this work, however, isn’t ever seen by the user, but is vital to the app’s proper and efficient operation.

“A lot of the work involved things like: optimizing a loop so that a page loads faster, or making it so that the app automatically avoids crashing,” Perez said.

In addition to making a functional and useful app, Perez also had to overcome many administrative hurdles.

“We didn’t own the old app, so we needed to convince the owners that the new app was a good idea. It took a long time, but I’m glad that the app is finally out there,” Perez explained.

With the release, people now have access to a plethora of information, all located in a single, easy-to-use app. Links to GTPD, campus organizations, T-Square and social networking sites all provide a functionality that was lacking in both the previous app and GT Buses. With these updates and the gaining of Institute support, this app promises to be a sure source of information for members of the Tech community.

Thanks to a lot of hard work, the app will surely make integrating into the campus and its community much easier.