The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has become the first university in the UK to launch its own featured iPhone application, or ‘app’. The innovative mobile phone service provides students and staff with the latest information from the Students’ Union, entertainment listings and maps of the university campus. It also enables students to access their university e-mail and top up their printing accounts.

Director of Learning and Information Services, Michael Ahern, believes the service will help the university to connect with today’s technologically savvy students who “lead very busy lives”.

Writing on the university’s website, Ahern explains: “The iPhone application demonstrates how UCLan is increasingly able to support its students in a way that recognises their busy lifestyles, and ensures that they are able to get the most from the latest advancements in technology.”

The application, which is free to download and compatible with both the iPhone and iPod touch, is expected to be particularly popular with first year students. “At the beginning of term you’re always being stopped by students asking for directions,” says Ahern, “now they’re going to have the information they need in their pockets.”

“As they roam around the campus they can get information about lecture theatres, places to eat and libraries,” he says.

With the increasing demand for immediate access to information, leading online store GetJar predict the market for mobile phone applications will eventually become as big as the internet, peaking at 10 million apps in 2020.

The question which remains is how many students will utilise the service and whether other universities will be quick to follow suit.

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