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The new Campus Maps app helps students find their way around Penn.

Credit: Irina Bit-Babik

With another mobile app joining the campus directory ranks at Penn, students may soon have to think of another excuse for being late to class.

App developer Vikram Bhandari created a straightforward campus map app for Androids and iPhones that will be sure to provide easy directions everywhere on campus.

The app, appropriately dubbed Campus Maps, was founded originally at the University of Maryland in 2011, where Bhandari needed it to find his own classes. His app is now avidly used and enjoyed by 70 percent of Maryland students and is on a similar trajectory at Penn, with 250 students currently using it.

The official launch date at Penn, when Bhandari plans to travel to campus and spend more effort promoting the app, will be in August of this year.

What sets Campus Maps apart is “its streamlined approach,” Bhandari said. “Other apps have too many tabs and figures that only kind of work. I wanted to do one thing really well.”

Some Penn students may already be familiar with another map app. Earnest Long, 2013 Engineering graduate, founded Penn Campus Explorer, which serves a similar purpose, two years ago.

“I was thinking about something that could help freshmen during NSO,” Long said. “It was my first app, and I wanted to make something simple and useful.”

Right now, Penn Campus Explorer is only available for Androids, but Long hopes to make it available for Apple users again in the near future. Long currently works on phone apps in his spare time and is promoting a game app for Androids called the Measure Game.

It is unclear whether Penn students are truly benefiting from mobile apps to help find their classes, as Penn InTouch provides links to building maps in its course descriptions, and many students prefer to use their computers.

Bhandari isn’t stopping with maps, though — he also hopes to expand his app to include housing reviews and nearby job opportunities for students.

“Other job websites don’t realize that students want a job that is in walking distance,” Bhandari said. “My app will show jobs that are within one mile.”

Even when students are late for class, Campus Maps might be a quick solution. The average time that Penn students spend looking up their destinations is a speedy eight seconds, with an overall average time spent on the app of one minute.

The housing and job search portion of his app will be available in the future for a small price, but Bhandari promises that users will be “provided better values for their money.”

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