New MyState update includes dark mode, library capacity & more

The MyState app development team will be releasing the much-anticipated 4.7.0 update in the coming weeks to include dark mode, a library widget, capacity tracking optimization and more. The MyState app draws approximately 27,000 individual users every month, proving it to be a vital tool to students and staff in their adventure at Iowa State.

Although there is no set date for the release, before the end of the semester students and staff can expect a plethora of additions to the app as well as bug fixes. App updates created by the MyState app development team improve the user experience by keeping the app’s codebase up-to-date with the latest methods and best-practices. The development team closely reviews other collegiate apps to ensure MyState is in-line or ahead of current app trends.
 Square MyState application icon with Iowa State in red with Cy mascot graphic below

Because the app is created and updated entirely by a team of six student developers assisted by full-time staff, student opinion is considered at every step. In a survey sent to students last fall, the most popular suggestion for an update was dark mode, the ability to switch the app to have light-colored text on a dark background. In update 4.7.0, if the user’s phone is set to dark mode in their phone settings, the MyState app will automatically do the same, no action required. Users also have the option to manually turn on and off dark mode in the settings menu of the MyState app. 

Information Technology Services (ITS) software developer Zak Bell, overseeing the project, says dark mode presented a new set of challenges: “Dark mode requires us to go screen by screen,” Bell said. “When you start changing the colors of things, it often digs up other problems to be solved so it was no small feat."

Another element to update 4.7.0 will be the addition of the library widget as well as expansion on the library module. Currently, users of the app’s library module can access their library card, view how many books they have checked out, search the catalog, renew books and see if they have fees due. The update will add a component to show the availability of library computers as well as what physical areas of the library have seating vacancy.

Unlike development efforts in years prior, recent app updates also include COVID-19 considerations, such as general capacity-tracking of the library. These improvements will give students and faculty the ability to see library capacity on a scale of “not busy” to “busy,” which can be added to the home screen as part of the library module.

Additionally, the app update will include further optimization of the capacity-tracking function for Cyride. The development team for the MyState app launched capacity-tracking on select CyRide routes last spring to increase student and employee safety.

CyRide transit director Barb Neal says the MyState app has been a great way for students to have more knowledge at their fingertips which allows them to make informed decisions.

“We want to put as much information as we can into people’s hands, and the capacity feature is one way to let our passengers make a choice about how they want to ride the bus,” Neal says. “Particularly during the pandemic, the capacity tracker allows passengers to see how full a bus is before it arrives at the stop and choose whether they want to ride that bus, or consider waiting for another one.

The collaborative effort between CyRide and MyState for capacity tracking is just one example of how the app has evolved over time to provide students with more accessible information, Nick Klein, a junior in advertising, says that the MyState app has been integral to his experience at Iowa State.

“When I lived on campus, I used the MyState app every day to navigate every aspect of being a student,” Klein said. “I used the app to look at my class schedule, the map of campus and to listen to the KURE radio station. Now that I live off campus, I look at the app for the nearest CyRide stop, the weather for the day, and I use Kickoff Keys at football games.”

Whether you want to know when your bus is coming, how to get to a building, or even what’s for supper at the dining center, the MyState app has your back.