'Woof' smartphone app is like Facebook for your furry friend Fido

Nov 28, 2013 by Andrew Baulcomb
The Woof team first connected during a networking conference in Kingston earlier this year. From left: McMaster Computer Science students David Elsonbaty and Adrian Dominico pose with business partner and University of Guelph student Dan Seider. The app currently has more than 21,000 global users.

Man's two best friends, smartphones and dogs, are together at last.

A pair of McMaster are making a digital splash with their new pet-friendly social networking application, Woof.

Described by developers as "an ecosystem to bring dog lovers closer to their dogs and local dog communities," the app was created by a pair of McMaster Computer Science students, David Elsonbaty and Adrian Dominico, along with Dan Seider, a student at the University of Guelph.

The technology allows users to create and manage individual profiles for their pets, share photos, find local dogs parks and connect with other canine lovers in the vicinity. Think of it as Facebook for your furry friend Fido.

Since launching Oct. 25 as a free download on the Apple App Store, Woof has gained more than 21,000 users from around the globe.

"Our original plan was to grow this slowly and organically. During the first four days after launching, we had about 600 downloads," explained Dominico. "But once it was featured in the App Store, downloads started coming in by the thousands. We were overwhelmed."

The team of developers first connected during a networking conference in Kingston back in March. Once the idea for Woof was solidified, the trio spent three days per week in a Toronto office throughout the summer developing and testing the app.

A recent CBC News story referred to Woof as one of the most popular smartphone applications to ever emerge from the Hamilton area. In recent weeks, the technology has also been featured in The Hamilton Spectator and CBC Hamilton.

Elsonbaty and Dominico both took McMaster's Software Entrepreneurship course last year, which Dominico described as the perfect learning environment for dreaming up new and innovative ideas.

Christoper Anand, an associate professor in the Department of Computing and Software, linked the app's explosive success to McMaster's propensity for innovative, hands-on learning at the undergraduate level.

"The Software Entrepreneurship program in Computing and Software was set up for our undergraduate students, because we thought we had a lot of talent and an untapped source of ideas," he explained. "The Software Entrepreneurship is one of our contributions to the experiential learning we take pride in at McMaster.

"As a department, we couldn't be prouder of David and Adrian, and salute the achievement born of hard work and clear vision," added Anand.

The team hopes to develop more apps in the near future, but the exponential growth of Woof is keeping them plenty busy for the time being.

Woof is available through the Apple App Store for iPhone iOS 6.0 or later. The technology is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, and the app is currently being optimized for the iPhone 5.

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