Story posted February 09, 2010
Turning to technology to help people answer the age-old question of what to eat next, Ben Johnson has created Bowdoin's first iPhone application. The practical dining app, which pulls its information from the dining halls' menu server, allows users to check all the campus's menus and dining hours.
Johnson, a computer science major, won a grant from the Gibbons Summer Research Program last year to build the phone application. John Gibbons, '64, established the fund in 1999 to support collaborative, technological projects between students and faculty. Johnson says he used this time to learn new programming languages and peruse Web forums for clues about Apple's complex encoding environment. After building the app and testing its functionality on friends, Johnson submitted it to Apple in November. He resubmitted it twice after correcting small errors before the company finally approved and released it December 5, 2009.
Now that he's had success developing one application, Johnson says he can easily build others. Next, he says he'd like to build a second app for Bowdoin focusing on the college's sports teams.
The Bowdoin Dining iPhone app is available as a free download in the Apple iTunes App Store.
It's great seeing people use it on campus. I've had a couple encounters where I was sitting next to somebody and they said "what's for dinner" to their friend, and they said "oh, I've got this cool new app on my phone, and it has all the menus." I just kind of laugh to myself, and that's always fun.
— Ben Johnson