College administrators and undergraduates recently launched a revamped version of the smartphone application “Omni @Harvard College,” adding a schedule for food trucks and an “enhanced” shuttle tracker, among other features.
Spearheaded by former Undergraduate Council President Ava Nasrollahzadeh '16 and former Vice President Dhruv P. Goyal '16, Omni first launched in fall 2015. The updated application “includes access to gym hours and schedules, wellness information and events,” and “major College updates,” according to an email Dean of Students Katherine G. O’Dair sent undergraduates Sunday. It still includes dining hall menus, a shuttle tracking service, and athletic facility hours from the older version of the application.
The newest iteration of Omni also integrates Mange, another mobile application used to place grill orders from House dining halls.
According to O’Dair, the application had been downloaded by a majority of the student body prior to the redesign. In her email, she wrote that Omni users can update the application to access the new version.
In an emailed statement to The Crimson, O’Dair wrote that nearly three quarters of undergraduates have downloaded the application on a mobile device. About half of those users were “actively using Omni” at the end of the spring semester.
Some students said they were disappointed with features in the original Omni application. Mateo A. Lincoln ’19 said he relied on the app for its shuttle tracking service, despite what he described as its sometimes-unreliable information.
“It seemed to be relatively accurate, although often there were some like mix-ups in the times the shuttles were coming. I live in Currier, so the shuttles are essential to everyday life,” he said.
Others, like Ryan B. Song ’17 said they didn’t use the application frequently after downloading.
“From what I recall, it wasn’t super comprehensive,” he said. “I feel like there’s a reason why I stopped using the app immediately after I downloaded it.”
Alexander Z. Zhang ’20 echoed these concerns, adding that he used the “Harvard” application in lieu of Omni.
O’Dair said student feedback was the impetus to revamp the application.
“Ongoing feedback from students drives so much of what we do, including the evolution of Omni and many of our digital communication resources,” she wrote in the emailed statement. “We knew we needed to move the app over to a platform that provided additional capabilities such as push notifications, enhanced modules such as shuttle tracker, and the technology to allow us to stay ahead of the curve in terms of offerings.”
Similar to its original version, Omni 2.0’s development “was a continued partnership between students and staff,” according to O’Dair. Former Undergraduate Council Vice President Dhruv P. Goyal '16 said the the UC and the College worked together in the original development of the app.
“When I think back to my four years on the Council, I can’t think of any project where the UC and the College have collaborated more than they have on Omni,” Goyal said.
O’Dair said Omni will continue to be updated as students give more feedback.
“We will continuously work with students and staff to evolve Omni, as with any digital platform, to ensure it’s serving the needs of our undergraduates both in terms of content and technology,” she wrote.
—Staff writer Andrew J. Zucker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewJZucker.