Wikipedia Mobile in Review – Wikipedia -vs- Wikipedia; Wikipedia wins!!

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With this review, I’m assuming that people are familiar with Wikipedia, an open sourced encyclopedia that anyone can contribute and review, and that it’s a wonderful source of information. I personally use it to do research on things that I see on Discovery Channel/ National Geographic, to gain a bit more knowledge on things on top of that described on TV, since I always miss bits and pieces due to phone calls, bathroom breaks, etc..

Anyway, I have always tried to avoid reading it on an iPhone/ iPod Touch, because viewing the web pages on Mobile Safari is not user friendly; although viewing it when I’m on a commute is an excellent time in addition to listening to music. Overall, the fonts are too small, the load times are long, and the general interface is just not designed for a mobile experience, landscape or portrait. I mean, the design is good and simple for normal Safari on my Mac, but just doesn’t work well for Mobile Safari.

Then came Wikipedia Mobile. All is good!!

My first reaction after loading my first article was “FINALLY!!!”, because I know I can finally use the spare time during my daily commute to read up on stuff easily and use that as a conversation piece.

Upon loading the application, I was greeted by a very simple interface that displays four things: a search bar and three buttons for history, saved pages and language. I also noticed that I still have my phone status bar on top, which was nice in comparison to a full-screen app, as I will know when I was late for that next appointment during my commute. I tapped on the search bar, and typed in keywords and the results came very quickly just like Spotlight on my Mac, with articles that matched my keywords, plus a small excerpt of the article. I then tapped on the one that I wanted read, and the article loaded. The presentation of the article was very familiar; the formatting was the same as the desktop version of Wikipedia, but the format was tweaked for the iPhone/ iPod Touch’s portable screen for the better.

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Mobile Safari

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Wikipedia Mobile

Once I was in the article, I was able to do everything I could with the desktop version, for example, I could click on links to other pages on Wikipedia, change the language of the article to see what’s available, as well as going to the external links referenced by the article. However, in comparison to the web version on Mobile Safari, I could change the font size of Wikipedia Mobile (although frustratingly only via the Settings panel of the iPhone/ iPod Touch, and not the application itself), so this could make reading a lot easier. Also, the different chapters are hidden until clicked on, so loading the article was a lot quicker.

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Mobile Safari

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Wikipedia Mobile

What makes this application interesting is that I could save articles on my device and read it at any other time. This means if there are a few articles that I want to read on my next commute to work, I could download these articles using the faster Wi-Fi connection at home to save these, and then read them on the subway. This not only allows for quicker loading, but also saves on my monthly quota of 3G data. Moreover I can easily share and discuss articles with friends on my iPhone/ iPod Touch, because I do not need to load the article again via 3G.

Honestly speaking, as a simple application to access Wikipedia, I really cannot find any flaws with this application; it does what I wanted it to do, and does it well enough. There is only one nag that I could think of: the history and save function. I think the application can be further improved by having an automatic caching system, in addition to the manual save now offered. I noticed that when I went back to an article I was reading only five minutes earlier, the device had to load it again from the Internet, which is just slow and cumbersome. With the storage available and the size of articles, perhaps the next version of the application could do with caching the last ten articles read? This was also the case when I received a phone call; after hanging up the application had to load the article again from the Internet. It’s just a small thing, but if implemented could make the application even better.

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App Summary
Title:Wikipedia MobileDeveloper:Comoki Software
Price:$2.99App Size:0.4 mb
  • Simple, clean interface
  • Adjustable font size
  • Article save function
  • No caching
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