When someone asks the Mississippi State University Extension Service for information, the answer soon might be, “There’s an app for that.”
Kelli McCarter joined the Extension Center for Technology Outreach in March as an applications developer. Her primary job is to write apps, which are computer programs that run inside another service. These apps will run on Apple Operating System, or iOS, devices such as the iPhone and iPad. Later, she hopes to developapps for the Android platform.
“App development is a fairly quick process once the purpose of the app and the end-user needs have been determined,” McCarter said. “The most difficult part is trying to use the small screens’ real estate on mobile devices.”
Randy Loper, director of the Extension Center for Technology Outreach, said Extension Service apps will be available for free from iTunes, the online distribution service for music, apps, movies and more.
“There is great demand among the general public for technology education and information, particularly among traditional Extension clientele,” Loper said. “The development of apps, specifically in the area of agriculture, is a significant need among people in the state now.”
The Extension Service plans to develop a variety of apps. Among those under consideration are apps dealing with plant or disease identification and cogongrass mapping and control. McCarterhas completed one app for cattle production and is developing a second app for sprayer calibration.
“There is not a lot of commercial software being developed for agriculture because the market is not yet big enough to attract very many commercial developers,” Loper said. “We feel like we can make a big impact in helping producers improve their lives and economic situations.”
McCarter has been a computer programmer since 1990. Before coming to work in MSU’s Extension Center for Technology Outreach, shewas a product lifecycle coordinator with MSU’s Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems.