Look it up on Official Wikipedia for Android [App Review]

As Wikipedia comes online again after their anti-SOPA blackout day this week, you can now access it directly through Wikimedia’s official new app for Android. While it was functional in the mobile-optimized site in the browser, we now have access to their entire 20 million multilingual crowd-sourced encyclopedic articles in a cleaner interface. While there had already been dozens of third-party apps that were doing it for us, its nice to see them finally bringing their app to life on Android.

The home screen has the search bar at the top middle ready for your query, and the results are already lightning fast on WiFi and 3G. So for the main use of the app, they’ve done a great job. The results are laid out similarly to the mobile browser version with the intro and main subheadings listed and you click to expand the section you’re interested in. I found it scrolled a little smoother than it sometimes did in the browser, and expanded better.

They also make use of the rest of the real estate to add some of the same information you’d see on the language-specific homepage in the desktop browser version. Today’s Featured Article is immediately viewable, letting you learn something new every day. Scroll down further and you see their In The News. They don’t have everything from the browser-based page, but I’d hazard a guess that 99%+ of the time users will be coming here to search, and the Featured Article is just an interesting bonus.

Bring up the menu button and you have a few additional options including:

  • Read in... to change to any of their 280 available languages
  • Nearby to see any available Wikis on a map view of your local area, like you can on Google Maps.
  • History to see your recent searches
  • Save Page/Saved Pages to let you keep it local on your device
  • Share uses standard Android sharing, but is buried in the More… menu option. There’s no reason this couldn’t be

The app is small, light and free – exactly what you’re looking for in this sort of app.

If they could make this the default handler for Wiki links and make sharing immediately accessible it would get the full 5 stars. Wiki contributors may also be disappointed that you can’t edit from the app, but I’m sure when enough of you start asking they’ll look into adding this functionality.

For all the parents out there, now you never need to answer “I don’t know” to your kids’ questions! I had already been using Wikipedia extensively with my toddler son, but now it makes things that much faster and easier.

Download it now in the Market and get the answers to all the questions in your life!

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