While the entire world wide web is busy searching for workarounds to access Wikipedia during the SOPA blackout, Android users have a reason to rejoice. The long awaited official app for Wikipedia has arrived in the Android market, the very same day when the web version of Wikipedia was blacked out in protest of SOPA.
Okay, it might not exactly be the very same day (the last update on record was on January 13th 2012) but reading the only 7 user reviews on the download page, it appears that the app has been released today only. Strange, no?
Wikipedia’s official Android app is free from black outs and personal appeals, the spartan homepage welcomes you with “Today’s featured article”, followed by a brief “In the News section”. The search box located at the way top is your only gateway to navigate around Wikipedia pages; as there is no way to find categories and specific topics through navigational hyperlinks.
Here are some screenshots:
Tapping on the menu bar, you can choose your preferred language from any of the 43 international languages that Wikipedia supports. One feature I really loved is the ability to save Wikipedia pages locally on your Android, so you can read it later when your phone is not connected to the Internet. You can literally build a library of cached Wikipedia pages on your Android phone, the only downside is that there is no way to organize downloads into separate folders or custom tags.
There is a “Nearby” option which lets you explore locations on a Google map and find related information from Wikipedia articles. This is pretty handy, when you are travelling to a new city and want to know the history, geography, people or popular culture about your current location. The “History” option works similar to the browsing history of a web browser, shows a list of Wikipedia paged you have read recently.
There are a slew of third party Wikipedia and Enclyopedia apps in the Android market with the same logo and identical names, so be sure to download the official one from this link.