Ten Useful Features in the AAS 2017 Conference App

We first introduced an AAS conference app at the Chicago meeting in 2015 and have been working hard to improve it each year since. Thanks to everyone who has provided feedback on previous versions of the app—hearing from conference attendees is how we learn what about the app is useful and what we can make better in the future.


This year’s app, built using the Guidebook platform, is bursting with features that will enhance your conference experience. We’ve put a huge amount of information—about panels, exhibitors, meetings-in-conjunction, films, the weather, restaurants, and more—in the palm of your hand. The AAS app should be a one-stop-shop for everything you need to know while attending this year’s conference. Are we missing a feature? Let us know and we’ll see if we can add it to the 2018 app.


The AAS app is available in both desktop and mobile versions. While the desktop version has all the important menu items, the mobile app offers a couple of features for communicating with other conference-goers that aren’t available on the web interface. There are also some minor differences in how the two versions look and operate; since we anticipate most people will be using the mobile app in Toronto, all descriptions below refer to that version.


Note: Use of some features is only possible by creating an account and logging into the app (whether on mobile or desktop). Those features are marked with an asterisk in the discussion below.


So, what can the AAS 2017 app do? Here are ten features we think everyone should know about.


1. Build your schedule for the weekend: While the conference program is glossy and colorful and will make a nice souvenir of this year’s meeting, who wants to carry it around? (Besides, you’ll need your arms free to carry books purchased in the exhibit hall!) Keep track of the sessions you plan to attend, as well as receptions and business meetings, by building a personalized schedule within the app.


* You can build a schedule on one device and sync it to another, but you must first create an account and then log in on both devices to make this happen. Otherwise, the schedule will only get saved to the computer/phone/tablet on which it’s created.


How to do it: Select either the “Schedule” tab or “Sessions by Geographic Area” and start scrolling through the list of sessions. If you already know that you definitely want to add a particular session (such as one you’re presenting in), just tap the plus sign (+) next to it. If you’re browsing through sessions, when you come to one that interests you tap on the title for more information, including a list of the panel participants and the panel abstract. If you decide that you want to attend the session, hit “Add now” at the bottom of the page. Any time you add a session, you’ll have the option of setting a reminder to alert you prior to its start time; reminders can be set on the desktop version but will only work on a mobile device (give the app permission to send you push notifications). Multiple sessions in the same timeslot pique your interest? No problem—you can add them all now and choose later.


Mobile extra: On the mobile app, you can also add your own appointments (coffee dates, dinner arrangements) to your schedule. Select the “My Schedule” tab, then tap the plus sign at the top of the page and enter the appointment details, then save.


2. Find your meeting room using floorplans: We’ve all spent more time than we’d like to admit wandering a maze of hotel hallways searching for that elusive meeting room. Navigate the Sheraton Centre Toronto easily using the hotel maps available in the app. Simply tap on the “Floorplans” tab, then use the drop-down menu at the top to pick the hotel floor of the room you’re looking to find and get the map you need. Tap on the name of the room for a complete list of everything taking place there during the conference.


3. Make a to-do list and/or notes: Did you promise a colleague you’d send her the article draft you two were discussing? Spot a book in the exhibit hall that you think a friend will find interesting? Hear about a nearby restaurant that you want to check out? Don’t tell yourself that you’ll remember everything; instead, use the “To-do List” in your app to keep track of tasks and the “Notes” feature to jot down important ideas.


* As with the personal schedule, you must log in to sync To-do List and Notes entries between different devices; otherwise, they’re just saved to the device on which they’re created.


4. Find a restaurant: If you’re salivating for sushi or pining for a pizza, check out local restaurant offerings. We’ve added listings for places that are within a reasonable walk or short taxi ride from the Sheraton (more coming soon!).


5. Check the weather: Don’t head out unprepared—tap on the app’s “Weather” tab and you’ll be taken to the current forecast for Toronto so you’ll know whether to pack an umbrella or extra set of mittens.


6. Review the Film Expo screenings: Curator Jason Finkelman and his team of reviewers have selected 22 movies for screening at this year’s AAS Film Expo. They look for works that will both be of interest to scholars and useful in the classroom, and ensure that the Film Expo covers a variety of topics and locations. In many cases, the film’s director(s) will participate in an audience Q&A after the screening ends. Information about all the movies, plus their screening times, is available under the “AAS Film Expo” tab.


Can’t make it to a scheduled screening? We’ll also have a screening-on-demand option available. Talk with an on-site Film Expo staff member to arrange for a personal showtime (then add it to your app schedule!).


7. Connect on social media: You can post to Twitter and Facebook from within the app. Don’t forget to use the #AAS2017 hashtag!


8. *Communicate with other app users: If you’re blown away by a panelist’s presentation and want to let him/her know but don’t have time to hang around after the session ends—just send a message instead! Both parties need to create accounts and log in to use this feature, which is only available on the mobile version of the app.


How to do it: If you aren’t yet acquainted with the person you’re writing to, use the “Messaging” tab and then tap on the pen and paper image that appears at the top of the screen. Search for the intended recipient by tapping the plus sign in the “To” field. Write your message, then send it.


If you do know the person and want to chat with him/her within the app, use the “Attendees” tab and search for his/her name (again, this only works if the person has created a user profile and checked in on the app). Tap the plus sign to connect with that person; once he or she accepts your invitation, look under the “Connections” menu within “Attendees” and tap on the person’s name to start a chat conversation.


9. Find an exhibitor: Tap on the “Exhibitors” tab to find a complete list and booth information for the companies and organizations that will be in our exhibition hall. If the exhibitor is holding a special event during the conference, information about it is included in their listing.


10. Follow #AsiaNow: We’ll be updating the blog throughout the conference, so don’t miss a post! Tap on the “#AsiaNow” tab to keep up with the latest.

Technical problems? Check to see if your question is addressed in the app user guide; if you still need assistance, email Guidebook or find an AAS staff member on-site in Toronto.