Review: OU2GO (iPhone)

Apple is taking over the world.

Yeah, that’s a wee bit extremist, but the point still stands – ever seen the student section during a football game? You’re bound to discover a gleaming iPhone for every crimson shirt in the stands, to the point where a college kid without the magic phone is fast approaching outcast status. It’s pretty ridiculous. It’s also unsurprising, considering Apple’s status as peerless purveyor of all things cool, and even a little exciting for geeks like me to envision a connected, net-enhanced campus.

It should come as no surprise, then, that OU itself soon jumped on the bandwagon, employing 11 student interns to churn out the University’s very own iPhone app: OU2GO. I’ve fiddled with it for a week or so now, trying out the different features on my daily routine, and have come at last to a highly scientific conclusion: not bad!

The app is divided into five sections: Campus Map, News Feed, Tradition, Video & Radio, and Weather. Before we dive right in, however, there’s something worth mentioning: OU2GO can’t do everything you want it to do. The feature set just listed might suggest otherwise, but it’s worth remembering that the app – much like all of OU’s websites, including Unwind – is subject to guidelines created with the intention of preserving the university’s good name in the digital community. That’s a normal policy for any organization tackling the realm of cyberspace, educational institution or not, and definitely worth remembering even if certain parts of the app feel a little empty.

I’m still going to comment on the lack of content in the Video section of the app, of course, but it’s with the knowledge that even my oh-so prestigious pen won’t change a thing. And that’s okay. Sure, I’d like to see some of the app’s features better fleshed-out, but OU2GO is perched in a pretty unique position, to the point where a lot of its limitations can be more easily forgiven.


Campus Map

This might be the most useful feature of the entire application. A map of OU – think of the paper maps that freshmen glue to their hands during the first week of class – is shrunk down for the iPhone’s diminutive screen, complete with familiar touch gestures to zoom in and out. Major streets on campus are labeled in large, visible letters once you get close enough, and you can even place little red pins on every building for future reference.

Pin work is done through the Search tab, which lists every building on campus and even provides phone numbers to the academic departments each contains. Every entry has a small blurb about the building’s history, which is a nice touch, and a button to drop a handy-dandy pin down at its location on the map. You can also favorite a building, adding its entry to the separate Favorites tab, presumably to grant easy access to the phone numbers of the specific departments of those buildings you frequently visit.

A few glitches, however, do stand out. The app does offer the ability to pinpoint your location on the map, dropping a blue pin down where it thinks you might be, though in multiple attempts it still hasn’t managed to find me. It places a pin, regardless, but always in the wrong place, which could be horribly confusing for someone unfamiliar with the campus.

The other issue is accessibility. When not connected to a WiFi network – OU’s ANY network, for example – the app tends to pop up a message saying some features are disabled, of which the “find me!” functionality seems to be one. Strangely, though, those messages don’t always show, and at times I saw a blue pin drop down even when I was connected only to AT&T’s 3G cellular network. The pin still didn’t touch down in the right place, suggesting the feature is pretty thoroughly bugged, though the strange behavior when it comes to internet access seems a little more troubling.

Overall, though, it’s a great feature, and with a little tweaking and debugging — the Favorites tab likes to draw out its list in invisible ink, for example — it could very well replace the paper maps I myself used when I was stumbling around campus a few years back. Lucky freshmen.

News Feed

Six different feeds are listed, all of which look pretty useful for a regular student. The one I frequented most – OU Daily – was kept up-to-date and organized, which is nice, though the actual reading experience isn’t flawless. Ideally, the app would take the content of the article and strip away some of the excess formatting to adapt it to the iPhone’s screen. The result would be simple, large text that required little zooming to read and loaded pretty quickly to the absence of unnecessary graphics.

In its current version, however, the app loads up the article on the OU Daily’s actual website, then scales down that page to fit the iPhone’s screen. It works, sure, but not as well as it could. All of the formatting and graphics on the Daily’s website take awhile to load, even on AT&T’s 3G network, and the resulting text (pre-zooming) borders on too small to read.

The same issue applies to all of the feeds, not just the Daily’s, which is enough to warrant another disclaimer: it’s not really a big deal. Ideally, yes, the articles in each feed would be optimized for the iPhone’s screen. In reality, however, the easiest way to go about this would probably be to create a special mobile version of each of those sites, a pretty sizable undertaking that likely won’t happen anytime soon. If it did happen, then the OU2GO app could continue as it is, providing links without requiring extra work to format each particular site’s articles. As it is stands now, however, it’s doubtful that will happen, meaning the student interns would have to take it upon themselves to do all the work.

Would it be hard to do? I don’t honestly know, being an amateur programmer at best. Considering that this is the very first version of the app, however, I’m perfectly willing to cut them some slack, especially since the system in place now provides readable – albeit improvable – results.


Three small sections here, and all work wonderfully. The first, About OU, is exactly what it sounds like: a look into the university’s history. The second, OU Fight Songs, provides recordings of Boomer Sooner, Oklahoma, and the OU Chant as performed by the OU Band. Separate buttons let you read the lyrics for each, a very nice inclusion for people such as myself who are genetically incapable of remembering the words to Oklahoma. The third provides a random fact about OU from a pretty sizable bank of knowledge, which should delight history nerds all across campus.

Video & Radio

Another easy one to talk about, if only for the fact that it seems a little limited in scope at the moment.

The Radio tab lets you listen to streaming audio from OU’s radio station, KGOU, which should be an awesome feature for radio fanatics on campus. I’ve listened to it a bit myself and never encountered any problems with the service. It loads quickly, the audio is crisp, and it functions regardless of whether you’re connected to a WiFi network, all of which make for a pretty well-rounded feature.

The Video tab has potential, though its current selection seems pretty sparse. The only videos currently available come straight from OU’s official YouTube Channel, which is a pretty cool trick, though it still leaves plenty of room for expansion., for example, has an impressive library of sports videos, most of which would be a great fit for the football fanatics floating around campus. It might be a wasted wish, given how much work it would involve to approve all of those videos for inclusion in an official university-sponsored app, but I’d still very much like to see the selection expand and incorporate the body of videos OU has to offer.


This is probably the second most useful feature of the entire app. The Weather section is divided into four tabs: Today, Forecast, Radar, and Options. They’re all pretty self-explanatory, sure, but they’re also very solid implementations, so bear with me a moment as I unleash the praise.

The Today tab provides an hour-by-hour breakdown of the weather, complete with temperature estimations and big, colorful icons to show you exactly what’s happening outside (hint: it’s still raining). It’s a great feature, and far more in-depth than the iPhone’s native Weather application, thankfully. The Forecast tab provides similar functionality, albeit in a condensed version for each day of the upcoming week. The icons are nice, the high and low temperature estimations are nice, and the background picture changes to reflect the current weather conditions, which is more depressing than anything at the moment. I can’t even remember the last time I saw the sun.

The Radar tab is a pleasant surprise. It provides an animated map of Oklahoma City and the surrounding environs, much like one you’d find on an actual weather website, which is pretty awesome functionality to carry around in the palm of your hand. It has crashed the app a few times, unfortunately, but that’s a minor annoyance more than anything else.

And, lastly, the Options tab lets you choose between the three OU campuses. Pay attention to this one – I might be mistaken, but I believe the app defaults to OU-HSC, which produced some pretty confusing weather reports for Norman until I switched it over.


In glorious summation: OU2GO is a great start. The Weather and Campus Map sections are clear strong points, even with their glitches, and will no doubt improve with future versions of the app. The remaining sections are similarly good, albeit a bit lacking in content, though that’s likely due to OU2GO’s status as the mobile face of OU. It’s a prestigious honor for the coders, but also a bit limiting for their designs, a fact worth keeping in mind when you give the app for a try. No, it isn’t perfect, but it’s a pretty promising way to kick things off, and an application worth keeping an eye on as it continues to improve.

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No Comments on "Review: OU2GO (iPhone)"

  1. Kim
    18/09/2009 at 10:31 pm Permalink


    Thanks for the great review! I had the privilege of spending the summer working with the student team that developed the OU2GO application. In my (obviously unbiased, ha) opinion, it’s one of the best — if not the best– collegiate iPhone applications. I am so proud of the great work that our students did to develop OU2GO. As you said, it’s a great start, and we should expect great things in the future development.

    Boomer Sooner!

  2. Jimmy
    20/09/2009 at 8:03 am Permalink

    HA! I wouldn’t even say it is “one of the best”.

    OU’s map is good if you are on WiFi. Other iPhone apps like Stanford and Texas A&M let you manage your schedule, find contact info for professors and find events on campus AND they look way better. Some of the graphics on OU2GO look really bad!

  3. enjoytechnology
    20/09/2009 at 10:36 pm Permalink

    Mr. Jimmy you made me curious enough to go download Stanford and Texas AM app… here’s what I think:

    You don’t even want to hear the list of bugs I found in Stanford’s app. Hey… managing schedule or find contact info, easily done… i wouldn’t be surprised if in the next version of OU2GO, they will include some of those.

    Seriously? You are comparing OU2GO with Standford’s or Texas A&M? First of all, it’s nothing special when Stanford’s looks a lot like Texas A&M or Duke’s. And have you noticed the version difference? 1.0 vs whatever the number is that is > 1.0!!! Wow… how can you say that the graphic in OU2GO is worse than others such as the beautiful crimson and white is worse than the ugly gray, or the nicely touch to all the buttons, icons, layouts vs the ugly stick graphics… From what I’ve read, the students developed the actual app in less than 2 months and 1 of those 2 months was dedicated to learning the language… another WOW factor.

    I didn’t see you trying to compare the map functionality of OU2GO with the map in Stanford. It’s 1000 times better!

    I realized all the little bugs across the application but hey… look at how many patches aka service packs Microsoft pushes out for every single Windows version?

    Bravo to the development team and I look forward to the future improvement of the app! There’s nothing special in making an app that looks exactly like some of the ones that are already out there. I think OU2GO is very well thought out. It has its own statement.

  4. Joe
    22/09/2009 at 8:25 am Permalink

    Love the app but I can’t seem to get the KGOU radio function to work. What’s the trick?

  5. Lori Lucas
    22/09/2009 at 8:43 am Permalink

    What about those of us with smart phones such as Blackberry (Storms)??? Don’t leave us out. What kind of app is there for us to download about OU?

  6. Matt
    24/09/2009 at 1:13 pm Permalink

    Hey Lori,

    I’m afraid you’re out of luck. 🙁 The lack of a University app for Blackberries isn’t limited to just OU, however. I might have just missed them, but I did some searching for college Blackberry apps and not a single one came up.

    The app store for Blackberries isn’t as well established (nor as popular for the average college student) as the iPhone’s app store is, unfortunately, so you might not see college apps popping up anytime soon.

    Hey Joe,

    That one’s a bit harder to answer. I’ve not had any issues with KGOU, but odds are good you aren’t the only one experiencing problems, so you might have to sit tight and wait for an app update to come down the pipes.

    Alternatively, you could try deleting the app and reinstalling it. No guarantees it would help, but software is just finicky enough that it might.

  7. Brad haltom
    02/11/2009 at 9:54 am Permalink

    I am trying to find a site where I can here the
    football and basket ball broadcasts with bob berry
    from my iPhone. Would this happen with ur app?
    Me and some friends are looking.
    an emai back would be great,

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