Audrey Fraizer

Audrey Fraizer


By Audrey Fraizer

Lots of people were keeping close tabs on their phones during NAVIGATOR, which is the kind of stuff that generally bothers me.

“They’re not engaging, catching up with friends, or meeting people at NAVIGATOR and these are great reasons for coming here,” I can hear myself saying.

Or, “It really bothers me to see people texting during a session. Can’t they at least wait until the speaker’s finished?”

This year, however, I was less of a killjoy realizing that phone attachment just might have lots to do with an iPhone application made especially for the conference and, hopefully, a returning app for NAVIGATORs to come.

The app—an electronic version of the conference onsite guide and developed in-house by Web/Multimedia Manager Erwin Bernales—provided everything available in the hard copy guides folded into each conference bag, plus features forgiving to pre-occupied (absent-minded) folks like myself.

The app, just about the same in content to the familiar paper guide, detailed pre-conference and conference sessions—the speakers, the gist of their sessions, and where the sessions would be held. There was a floor map to help in navigating the conference center, the list of exhibitors and their contact information, and where to go for the special events and what to expect once you got there.

The app also provided a personal scheduling option—allowing the user to filter available courses by track, time, course title, and room location and the ability to create a customized schedule for every day of the conference. Notes could be taken the same way you write a text message (iPhone keypad) and saved for later reference. No need to keep track of your pen.

The app was free and available for the iPhone platform. Android users could access the electronic guide via the phone’s Internet browser.

Although NAVIGATOR 2013 has been packed up and put away, the same type of app might be in store for NAVIGATOR 2014, which is destined for Florida.

There are no promises. The process for getting an app approved isn’t easy.

Apple could turn down next year’s proposal. It’s on an app-by-app basis. Companies dedicated to building apps for mobile platforms are among the dozens competing daily for their products’ acceptance into the App Store, and losing. It’s a tough market. The app for next year’s onsite guide could be rejected; there are no guarantees to make it through the door on a subsequent try.

Erwin said the app approved this year sets the bar for future apps. He keeps up from a technical perspective and participates in app developer forums. Mostly, he said, the app was a “learn by doing” sort of project. He created a functional product, complementary to a conference and an Academy progressing with the rest of the world. Maybe, it’s about time I did the same.