You know what Wikipedia is. I don’t need to explain it to you. All you need to know is they’ve rebuilt their app, and it’s as good and useful as having Wikipedia on your phone sounds like it would be.
The app works a lot like the main site. You have a front page with a featured article on it, and a search bar, and that’s really all you need. Once you find an article you’re interested in you can swipe left to pull out a sections menu, or just scroll down to read the whole thing.
You can, of course, just use the internet browser on your device to go to Wikipedia, and it doesn’t handle too badly like that. But the app seems just a little quicker, and the layout and functionality seem just a little more suited to a smaller screen.
An important aspect of Wikipedia is its crowd-sourcing, and the app makes it very easy to make edits right there from your device. Just tapping an icon next to any section of an article takes you to a page where you can edit the text.
A neat (and I think unique to the app) feature is the ‘Nearby’ function, which uses your GPS to find you articles about landmarks or areas near you – did you know Dominion Road is one of the few roads in Auckland on which similar or greater numbers of people travel by public transport than by private car? Neither did I, but thanks to this app now I do!
The app also includes a share function which, and I quote, lets you “use your existing social networking apps to share in the sum of all human knowledge.” And you thought your idle Facebooking was a trivial thing.
There’s no denying the huge impact Wikipedia has had on society. It boasts “more than 32 million articles in 280 languages, and is the most comprehensive and widely used reference work humans have ever compiled.” Whew. Without it I wouldn’t know where loquats come from (China), or which Street Fighter game Charlie first appeared in (Alpha). It’s enriched my life and yours as well, I’m sure. The app shares many attributes with the website – it’s simple, quick, functional, and full of millions of fascinating articles (some of which are probably even useful, too). If you’re anything like me your research skills rely on Wikipedia almost entirely, and this app lets that dependence follow you wherever you go.