During the first two weeks of class, it's common to see hoards of students rushing down Locust Walk with their heads down as they scramble to log into Penn InTouch on their phones. The website, which is notoriously difficult to use on mobile devices, is known to crash when more than 5 percent of the student population is logged in at the same time.
Wharton and Engineering sophomore Dylan Diamond wants to change that. Diamond has developed an application called UTime that provides mobile access to students' class schedules and makes it easier to share the schedule with friends.
UTime, which is available on the App Store, lets students input their course ID numbers to show data from Penn InTouch about their classes.
Diamond said he realized this app was necessary his first day of freshman year. “Everyone had that screenshot [of their Penn InTouch schedule] either as their phone background, or they were looking at a crumpled pieces of paper to try and find their classes," he said.
Diamond added that he wished Penn InTouch offered a “dynamic interface” and allowed him to connect with friends and other students in his classes, which is why he included these features in UTime.
UTime lets students see another user's classes, allowing students to check their friends’ schedules. Users can also choose to make their profiles private and bar anyone from seeing their schedules. In this private setting, friends can still send requests to see the another student's schedule.
The app was beta tested last year at the end of the second semester and was launched at the beginning of this semester. According to Diamond, the app had 200 downloads in the first two days of its launch.
UTime isn't the first app that the sophomore has launched. As a junior in Staples High School in Westport, Conn., Diamond launched iStaples — an app that similarly helped students organize and see their class schedules. After coming to Penn, Diamond worked on and off for four to five months to transform iStaples into UTime.
College sophomore Alex Evans is one of UTime's new users, and said he already finds it “preferable” and “easier to use” than Penn InTouch.
He added that moving forward, he hopes to see UTime transition into a more general scheduling app that allows users to add events outside of class as well. Evans said he sees the potential for the app to centralize information students would typically find on Canvas and to facilitate more student communication like Piazza.
Wharton sophomore Greg Preiser, who is responsible for UTime's business development and marketing, said the team is actively looking for new features to add to UTime.
One idea on the table is to include crowdsourced suggestions for daily homework, allowing people to input to-do lists for each class that other students in that section can see as a suggested task.
“What Canvas does really well is tell you from your professor's or instructor's point-of-view what they want you to accomplish," Diamond said. "But it doesn’t really factor in what the students should do.”
Diamond said he is also considering letting users add student club events into the schedule, and is working on expanding the app so it is compatible with web and Android as well.
“The more that we put in, the easier it will be for students,” Preiser said, adding that he believes the app should be a “one-stop shop for your everyday life as a college student.”
While the app is currently only designed for Penn students, Diamond has future plans to integrate the app into other school systems. Diamond and Neil Soni, a Yale freshman, are beta testing integration with Yale's system.
Diamonds' app comes just a year after the University announced that it is working to replace Penn InTouch with a new online registration and information system called Pennant by the end of 2020. Described by administrators as "the student experience of the future," Pennant promises an exciting change for underclassmen — that is, if UTime doesn't capture its base of users before then.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.