Developers create game day app for Tiger fans

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COLUMBIA - New technology will be available for Tiger fans just in time for the 2014 football season.

Mizzou Athletics and a team at the University of Missouri's Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) created an iPhone application to help fans navigate through their game day experience. It will be released one week before the August 30 season-opener against South Dakota State. The app will be free to users.

RJI Executive Director Randy Picht said making sure the application worked in a crowded stadium was a high priority for the team. Picht said people surveyed said they often times have trouble using any of the applications on their phone during games.

"One of the important features about this is that we keep it very simple and low bandwidth," Picht said.

The application includes a feed monitored by the Athletic Department. It supplies a feed of tweets from accounts like Mizzou Athletics and Mizzou Football. The Athletic Department can control which feeds link to the application as well as create original content. The feed allows for photo sharing and doesn't require a Twitter account to be used.

The stadium also provides fans a stadium view to help fans find concession stands, first aide booths and parking lots. Picht said the app's map will include the stadiums newly renovated East side when it launches. Users can also tweet their location to let friends know where they are.

The team studied applications used by other schools and found more complicated apps crashed when they tried to do too much.

"We're going to start with this," Picht said. "We think it'll be useful. If there's enough bandwidth we can add other features, other things that would be kind of fun."

The developers tested the application during the spring game, which while it doesn't have as many people as the regular season, still provided a platform to work out the bugs.

Mizzou graduates Malory Ensor, Jared Jeffries, Clare Murphy and Annie Trout worked on initial design of the application as part of their Capstone coursework. A programmer with RJI coded the application. Picht said the Athletic Department contributed to every step of its development to make sure it was meeting the needs they felt were most useful.

"The parking lots can be a little confusing," Picht said. "If you can say ‘Here I am!' and you can just got to the map and find them right by looking at the map." He said the application will track your location to monitor how close you are to finding your group.

Picht said he expects students and Tiger fans around the community to take advantage of the application. He said he hopes the application will expand to include watch parties in other cities as it develops.