Wikipedia's HTML5 Native Android App Gets Half a Million Users in Two Weeks

It is already available in tens of languages with more to come

By on January 27th, 2012 14:51 GMT

The official Wikipedia Android app debuted in the Android Market a couple of weeks ago, but Wikipedia only got around to making the official announcement. Along with the announcement though, it also revealed some initial stats and how it built the app in the first place.

"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," Wikipedia boasted.

The app itself is basic, but practical, just like the real Wikipedia in a way. It allows users to search for the articles they want and presents a version of it formatted for the small screen.

The pages themselves should feel rather familiar, the links, images and other resources are all there. In fact, an article in the Wikipedia native app looks pretty much the same as the web page for it.

That's by design and it's actually a good thing. The information in Wikipedia is created for the web, it relies on links for context and further reading, formatting in a flashy way that would look great on a phone would subtract from its value.

But there's another reason why you'd think you're still using the browser version, the entire app is built with HTML5 and JavaScript, basic web technologies. That's thanks to the PhoneGap toolset which makes it trivial to create cross-platform native mobile apps using only web languages.

Another great thing about the app is that it's already available in tens of languages. It has been completely translated in 25 languages and is mostly translated in 50 more. This is important as more and more people in developing countries get access to the web for the first time via phones and not a desktop. 

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