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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Campus IT works to keep smart phones functional as their use grows

Earlier this month, the University Information Technology Services introduced additional Google services to CatMail accounts.

The university’s 24/7 help center sees the most concerns when it comes to smart phone support and the email service.

Two-thirds of undergraduate students own an Internet-capable handheld device, and about half of those said they use Internet from their device daily. Last year, the number of students using the Internet daily was only a third, according to a 2010 study by Educause, a nonprofit association focused on improving information technology.

More than 80 percent of those students that utilize their Internet-capable device daily use it to check news, weather, sports and specific facts, according to the same study. The same amount use it to send and receive emails.

But smart phone technology support accounts for 10 percent or less of the problems addressed by the UA’s 24/7 IT Support Center in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center, according to Chris Mathias, manager of the Information Technology Support Center. Most software services at the support center are free, including assessing issues with smart phones.

Most smart phones come programmed with their own wireless Internet networks, so issues of increased access to UA WiFi due to portable devices are mostly avoided, according to Jon Moser, Information Technology Support Center specialist.

“”The amount of smart phone requests have increased over the past three years, but that goes up with the appeal of smart phones being marketed to more than just businesspeople,”” Moser said.

There’s no one predominant smart phone the office sees, according to Mathias and Moser, and tracking how much people utilize the system is difficult because most take advantage of their provider’s wireless Internet network..

Accessing classroom responder software on smart phones could account for some students wanting to access UA WiFi from their phones, but most service requests come from trying to have CatMail update to their phones, Moser said. CatMail requires a secondary password for access.

“”It helps that the CatMail service is Gmail,”” Moser said, stating that user problems are handled by their office, but account problems are handled by Google, with response times coming in around one day. The service is so widely utilized, it is easier for students to help themselves with their own smart phone issues.

Mathias said there are applications to access from smart phones in the future, including Desire2Learn services. The center hasn’t had any UAccess-related concerns from mobile phones or for smart phone viruses.

“”As more apps become available, the volume will increase (virus-wise),”” Mathias said. “”And with those new apps, will come more need for support.””

But Mathias said they still see more people bring in desktop towers than smart phones to the support center.

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