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Flashback: The future of the campus mobile app

We focus a lot on credentialing technologies in our day-to-day coverage. We are, after all, a publication dedicated to the campus card. But in more recent years, it’s grown increasingly difficult to ignore the rise and impact of mobile apps on campus.

Not all are relevant to the campus card space specifically, but an increasing number of mobile apps are reaching many of the same touch points that the student ID card does. And with college campuses now being almost entirely connected environments, the use of mobile apps by an already tech-savvy and mobile driven student population has been a natural progression.

This idea was the inspiration for our “Next-gen apps merge campus ID and student life” piece from 2015. We wondered if institutions would one day deliver a coordinated mobile experience that replaced disparate solutions and single-function apps. The infrastructure is available now — and even back then to a certain extent — to deliver a comprehensive app experience that includes services like event and door access, mobile ordering, payments, coursework, attendance, testing, campus safety and more.

We’ve seen some of these utilities delivered piecemeal, sure, but even three years ago we were imagining an all-in-one app experience.

NFC use for students to access facilities was a pipe dream at the time of publication, but door access was the vital use case because it’s one of the most important and frequent tasks for students. Shifting door access to a mobile app was largely in its pilot phase then, but Apple announcing student ID support on iPhone and Watch is likely a major step in the right direction for that encompassing app experience students crave.

Our ideas from 2015’s “Next-gen apps merge campus ID and student life” were an educated guess, but we’re seemingly getting closer by the day to a true companion app for students. The progress made over just a few short years is even more impressive when glancing backward.

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