This article was updated on Jan. 28 at 11:20 p.m.
Temple University and Apple Inc. released a new feature on Monday that allows users to scan their phones to access campus buildings and use Diamond Dollars.
The new feature will provide students, faculty and staff the same access to university buildings, fitness facilities and dining centers as physical OWLcards by showing identification on their mobile phones through Apple Wallet or Google Pay. Chief Information Officer Cindy Leavitt sent an email to the Temple community Monday morning announcing the feature.
“Available today, this exciting innovation will make getting around campus even easier,” she wrote.
To use the feature, students and staff must download an application through Blackboard, which provides the university’s card scanners. They can merge their OWLcards with Apple Wallet or Google Pay, said Chris Vito, a university spokesperson, during a demonstration of the OWLcard feature on Friday.
Android users with operating system 5.0 or later also have access to the application that displays OWLcards, but they will need to have their screen awake to scan their mobile device, while iPhone users can scan through Apple Wallet with the application closed and their screen asleep.
Temple is among six universities nationwide piloting the feature. Duke University, the University of Alabama and the University of Oklahoma all launched programs to have student IDs available on mobile devices in October 2018. Johns Hopkins University and Santa Clara University will also have access to the feature, but Apple has not yet released their launch dates.
There are several Blackboard card readers in Main Campus buildings and residence halls, like Pearson Hall and the Science Education and Research Center, while some academic buildings do not currently have the technology.
In university buildings where there are not card scanners, like Anderson and Gladfelter halls, Campus Safety will allow entry to students and faculty who pull up the image of their OWLcard on their phones to show to security, said Scott Brannan, director of the OWLcard Office.
“It’s the next wave of technology, and we know that our students really embrace technology usage and like new things…we don’t just say yes to everything, but this is a good advancement and there’s extra security in this and we think it’s a great step forward,” Brannan said.
To begin using OWLcards on mobile devices, students, faculty and staff can download a Blackboard application called, “eAccounts,” where they can enter their university credentials and use two-factor authentication to confirm their identity.
“It’s really convenient for when you’re fumbling around with your things, and you have a book in your hand, maybe if it’s raining outside and you have an umbrella in your hand, but you always have your phone in your hand,” said Naomi Abrahams, a senior media studies and production major who helped introduce the Apple Wallet feature during a press conference on Friday in the Science Education and Research Center.
Once the university account is connected, students can link it to Apple Wallet if they have an iPhone 6, Apple Watch 1 or a more recent model. When students and faculty need to use their OWLcards, they can access them through Apple Wallet and do not have to go to the eAccounts application. eAccounts also displays university account balances and transactions, including Diamond Dollar balance, printing allocation and meal swipe balance.
“It’s just more flexible, it’s going to be easier,” said Evin Karatas, an undeclared sophomore. “Most people are already going to be on their phones when they go into buildings, so might as well just use your phone.”
When students lose their physical OWLcards, they must replace it for a $20 fee to continue accessing buildings, but with the new feature, only a mobile OWLcard is needed.
If students and faculty lose their mobile devices with the feature installed, they can set the phone as missing through eAccounts or TUportal, and the application will then erase the OWLcard credentials from the phone. Once the phone is either found or replaced, students and faculty can then reactivate their OWLcard back on their phones.