A lot of people use Wikipedia in web browsers, even on mobile, but it’s a good bet that only a few of those are aware that Wikipedia has an official Android app. That could soon be changing however, with a new Wikipedia Beta that could very well make the app the first stop of those seeking treasure from the community-made online encyclopedia.
Wikipedia has had an app on Android for more than two years now but it has lingered in the past and stagnated in features. It wasn’t even a full-fledged Android app, mostly a web app in Android coating. This time, however, Wikipedia is testing the ground for a new kind of app, one that takes advantage of Android’s native framework and features. And the benefits of that decision clearly show in the amount of new feature’s their listing in this latest beta.
In going native, the Wikiepdia app has also adopted Android conventions, like slide out side panels and the “hamburger” icon. Now much of Wikipedia’s functionality is available in the side navigation panel, but still a few exist in the overflow (the three vertical dots) menu. The table of contents for articles that have one are also on the top menu, but it can also be invoked by swiping from the right edge of the screen. Besides user interface changes, there are few new features available as well. Things are supposedly faster now, for one. Users will also be able to search in other languages, bookmark pages, and, for fun, get a random article. And for those actively involved in the Wikipedia community, they can now also edit articles while on the go, right from the convenience of their smartphone or tablet.
Wikipedia Beta is immediately available for anyone to download and try, no need to sign up or join a Google+ community. Since it’s beta, there will surely be some rough edges that need to be tested and ironed out first before these major changes trickle down to the stable version of the Android app.
Download: Wikipedia Beta