Announcing the Official Wikipedia Android App

Two weeks ago, we submitted the official Wikipedia Android App into Google’s Android Market. Since then, we’ve seen an amazing reaction from our Android users. We’ve had over 500,000 installs, we’ve become #4 in top free books and reference, and we held the #1 trending spot in the whole Android Market last week. Those stats don’t even reflect how great we’ve been doing internationally. Thank you to our users for supporting us.

We wanted to do this blog post sooner, but we had a busy news week helping to protect the Internet and releasing two important updates to fix GPS and performance related issues. Now, we’re excited to talk about it.

Developing the App

Our Android app marks a really important turning point for the Wikimedia mobile projects and the open web in general. Instead of developing a native application as we had done previously with our iOS Wikipedia app, we opted to simplify our development efforts by using PhoneGap. Fully embracing HTML5, CSS3, & Javascript commits us to the open Web technologies of the future. Rather than diving into proprietary frameworks and SDKs, our application has been built on the same foundation as the open mobile web. And not only does this allow us to prepare for the future, it also accelerates our ability to develop across numerous platforms.

Within a short amount of time we’ve already developed a testing version of our iOS app with PhoneGap and we’ve established our first complete community port to the BlackBerry PlayBook. This demonstrates the power of using open tools and communities to improve the Internet as a whole and it is a critical component to our long term goals.

But there is a lot more to do. We’ve received excellent feedback from our reviewers and we’ve started to incorporate it into our roadmap. Future versions of all of our apps will include a lot of what we’ve heard from our users, but we need help to get there. Our code is all open source and its easy to get involved. Fork our code, reach millions, and help educate the world.

The App and our Global Mission

Given Android’s significant smartphone market share, having an Official App may be a “must” these days, but there are additional reasons that this release is important for us.  First, the app is truly international. Unlike our iOS app, which was only localized into four languages, our Android app already has complete localization for 25 languages, nearly-complete localization for over 50 languages, and it can be translated to over 250 languages through translatewiki.

As importantly, it opens up new distribution opportunities for people to discover Wikipedia. As we develop mobile partnerships throughout the Global South, (see our recent announcement with Orange), we hope to distribute this app through operators’ local app stores in addition to Android Market. This not only broadens Wikipedia’s reach, it also gives our operator partners a free, unique, and locally relevant offering for their customers, strengthening the overall impact of these partnerships.

Finally, the rise in low-cost Android smartphones is making the web more broadly accessible to people who may not have had Internet access previously. This is in alignment with our mobile mission to reduce barriers to accessing free knowledge.

We’re excited to celebrate this release, both as a development milestone and a mission-aligned achievement. And we are thrilled to get the app into the hands of more people around the world. Now, let’s make some noise.

Tomasz Finc, Director of Mobile and Special Projects
Amit Kapoor, Senior Manager, Mobile Partnerships

Categories: Highlights, Mobile, Technology
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13 Comments on Announcing the Official Wikipedia Android App

Lucie Kruger 2 months

Hi,
The application most the time crashes on the 1st try after two or three try….. the application respond,This problem is in my cell or in application ..whatever but the application is awesome and easy to navigate, thanks wiki… :)

Why can't I search in an Article 3 months

Why can’t I search in an Article? This is a elementary feature, a must hve in every text based app. Therefore I removed the app from my android phone.
Kind regards sends Peter

Tomasz 2 years

@Jonathan Stark: There was an community debate wether we should bother at all. Long and short of it was that our users deserve to have a choice of a great Wikipedia browsing experience that is add free and supports basic features on their Android devices. People ware paying to not have to see ads and to have basic features like saving an article to their phone. We thought this was a bit silly given that you don’t have to pay anything to do this on a desktop when browsing Wikipedia.

Alongside this there are numerous carriers that we work with who are eager to install an official app on devices that they release.

Lastly it lets us prototype, test, and experiment much faster then our normal MediaWiki pipeline allows. Plus its just fun to experiment with.

We should have some stats on app vs mobile web traffic in a couple of weeks.

Jonathan Stark 3 years

Congrats on the release! And I applaud your use of open web technologies + PhoneGap (now called Apache Cordova, I’m told).

I’m curious whether there was an internal debate over whether to develop an app store app at all and what the reasoning was. I assume it was a question of discovery but it’d be interesting to know.

Also wondering what effect all those native app download have had on your mobile traffic, in particular whether it’s all incremental or has canabalized your mobile web traffic at all.

Cheers!
j

Sebastian Görick 3 years

The only thing that i want for your app is ics ,android 4.0, style.

Johannes 3 years

Thanks for your great work! Are there plans to make the app more useful to Wikipedia contributors? Is editing support one of your targets? What I was also was missing: access to talk pages and – importantly for license compliance – access to the article histories. I doublt that reproducing full Wikipedia articles without providing access to the list of authors is fully license compliant..

Tomasz 3 years

During our development sprints for 1.0 we tried to make 2.1 work. But the hacks, work arounds, and incompatibilities grew so large that we were spending more time trying to make 2.1 work rather then focusing on everything else. In order to make future development possible we have to do 2.2 and up.

Tomasz (odder) 3 years

Why does the application require Android 2.2+? This makes it virtually unavailable in certain countries where devices with Android 2.1 and lower are most popular…

Attila Albert 3 years

Cool! I was waiting for that

aakash k 3 years

Waiting for the application on app store

James 3 years

Decent Android 4.0.1 tablets are as low as $89 (ainovo.com) and I expect them to keep dropping.

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