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Only Wharton students are allowed to reserve group study rooms in Hunstman Hall; now they can do it using the Penn Mobile app. (File Photo)

Credit: Yolanda Chen

Wharton students no longer have to use their computers to book group study rooms in Huntsman — this student-developed app now lets them reserve rooms with the tap of a finger.

The new feature was launched in January by Penn Labs, the student-run organization that developed Penn Course Review, Penn Course Alert, the Common Funding Application, Penn Mobile, and Penn Basics. The Penn Mobile app, introduced by Penn Labs in 2015, lets students view dining hall hours and menus, find open laundry machines in dorms, search professor directories and classroom information, book study rooms, call safety services, and read campus news.

Wharton and Engineering junior Joshua Doman, a member of the Penn Labs iOS team who led the initiative to develop the new feature, said the app is easier to use than the MyWharton student portal. While the Wharton website involves a multi-step booking process which can be challenging for busy students, the app allows people to book rooms with just two clicks. Doman added that the app displays room availabilities, a feature MyWharton does not have.

Wharton senior Nathan May said he finds it helpful that the app automatically displays all room availabilities, while on the Wharton website he needs to filter to check for availabilities at specific times.

"I open the app up, I can swipe to see a room at a specific time, and I can clearly see whether or not I can book it," May said. "On the other platform I have to filter for my time; there’s just a lot of clicks.” 

May added that he uses the feature "probably half of the time" he books GSRs, especially when walking around.

“I like that there’s not a ton of clicking," he said. “It's very seamless on the phone."

Wharton sophomore Ciana Curran agreed, adding that "you don’t have to put in your ID and your password and everything every single time you log into the app."

Wharton sophomore Moh Sabhani, who uses the new feature “almost every day,” also said he prefers to use the app over the Wharton website.

Doman said students have been able to book study rooms in Van Pelt Library and elsewhere since the Penn Mobile app launched, but since the app's launch many have been asking for a feature to book Huntsman GSRs as well. Once Doman realized it was possible to integrate the Wharton Computing capability of booking rooms with iOS, it took “about a weekend” to create the new feature.

Penn Labs Co-director and College junior Valencia Fu said the new feature is part of an attempt to make Penn Mobile accessible to as many students as possible. Fu said the group hopes to run more surveys and focus groups to better respond to the needs of the Penn community and is considering adding a feedback button to the app to streamline the process. 

“We hope to source more feedback from the student body as a whole,” Fu said. “We want to know what we can do better.” 

Doman added that the new feature expands Penn Mobile's reach within the student body. 

“The feature makes the app more valuable to more students, especially to off-campus students who aren’t using the laundry or dining features,” he said.

The feature is currently available on iOS devices. Doman said Penn Labs' Android team is  working to integrate the capability with Android products.