To say that mobile has been a huge boost for Wikipedia would be an understatement according to a post from the site today, saying that its 2-month-old Android version alone has accounted for 23M page views per month, with 2.25M installs to date.
Today, the Wikimedia Foundation has released updates for both iOS and Android versions and the features are jampacked. The glaring new feature is the fact that Wikipedia has opted to ditch Google Maps in favor of OpenStreetMaps for its popular “nearby view” feature. This is a growing trend for companies, as we’ve seen both Apple and foursquare opt for the open source alternative as well.
The reason behind the move has to do with support for as many devices as possible:
Previous versions of our application used Google Maps for the nearby view. This has now been replaced with OpenStreetMaps – an open and free source of Map Data that has been referred to as ‘Wikipedia for Maps.’ This closely aligns with our goal of making knowledge available in a free and open manner to everyone. This also means we no longer have to use proprietary Google APIs in our code, which helps it run on the millions of cheap Android handsets that are purely open source and do not have the proprietary Google applications.
While that’s bad news for Google, it’s great news for companies who want to put its own spin on the geographical data that it shows within its apps.
Along with this change, Wikipedia announced the following updates:
Wikipedia for iOS
All of the changes in this update are to bring the iOS version up to speed with its Android counterpart:
- Search suggestions
- Full text search
- “Did you mean?” results
- Saving pages for offline viewing
- Share pages via Twitter, Facebook
- Save pages to Read It Later
- Read current page in other languages
- Map integration to view nearby articles
- View location of current article + nearby articles in a map
- Set the default language
- Navigation history features
Wikipedia for Android
The Android update is more about feature requests and bug fixes, since this is the first major update since the app was released two months ago:
- Quick Search Bar integration
- Open Wikipedia URLs from any application using the Wikipedia app
- Full Text Search and ‘Did you Mean?’ correction support
- A much better tablet interface
- App can be moved to SD Card
… and plenty of bug fixes!
Wikipedia also says that its moving to a faster development cycle, 2 weeks to be exact, so you can expect more features and updates to hit your devices soon.