UC Irvine graduates recently debuted their first iPhone application amidst the flurry of new applications this holiday season.
After graduating from UC Irvine, several friends started their own cloud telephone company called Callfire and used the technology and infrastructure to create “FriendCast,” the free iPhone application aimed at helping student groups communicate last-minute changes of plans. The application allows the user to record a message and send it to the phones of friends, colleagues or group-mates.
Dinesh Ravishanker, Callfire CEO and co-developer of FriendCast said that the application makes communication with groups of people safer and faster.
“It’s safer because if you’re driving it is now illegal in California to read or write a text message and it’s faster [than calling] because it only takes a few seconds,” he said.
FriendCast aims to simplify the way people communicate when people are short on time and without a PC.
Ravishanker, a UC Irvine graduate and former Davis resident, added that there is a high level of personalization with the application.
“Your friends can hear your voice – if you’re happy, sad, excited,” he said.
Stephanie Nguyen, a second-year biochemistry and molecular biology major and member of the Campus Rotaract Club and the molecular cellular biology club, said that the application may be useful for some clubs because it takes a lot of coordination to put group events together, but may be useless for other clubs.
“… If there are last-minute changes to a plan, Facebook and e-mails are almost pointless so [the application] might be good,” she said.
However, FriendCast may not be for everyone.
Mitty Chang, a sophomore and president of the Rotaract Club, said that despite the fact that his group is the type that FriendCast is targeting, the club will not use the application in part due to the mandatory ads.
“We do not want to start spamming our member’s cell phones with advertisements,” Chang said.
Chang said that overuse of the application could have negative effects for members.
“I fear that some clubs will abuse the program … turning this into weekly telephone spam,” he said.
For now, Chang said, Rotaract will not be using FriendCast and will stick to Facebook, e-mail, personal telephone calls and general meetings.
Ravishanker, however, said that the application is not meant to be used extremely frequently.
“It’s more of a last minute communication tool,” he said. He added that it can be used between friends for last-minute party changes, for study groups or even for sports groups.
The application is doing well despite its opponents, and has been downloaded 3,000 times in the three weeks it has been on the market.
Ravishanker, a UC Irvine graduate, attributes part of this success to his UC education.
“The research focus of the UC system teaches students to reach beyond what they’re taught to do on a day-to-day basis in corporate America,” he said.
The undergraduate and graduate experiences of Ravishanker and his colleagues have encouraged him to push the envelope and create things that haven’t been created before, he said.
“We [the members of Callfire] have a strong interest in contributing back to the UC community in the future,” Ravishanker said. “This iPhone application is just one way.”
KELLY KRAG-ARNOLD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.