Not everyone that browses Wikipedia has full access to all its features and has fast Internet to enjoy all that information at their fingertips. The developers have realized that and come to understand that even as mobile dominates the way they get online, they face restrictions or have low-bandwidth access to the Internet. That is why the past few Android app updates is meant for those experiencing these issues, giving them more offline features and applying best practices for this audience. Now they’re sharing some best practices when designing for offline use.
The past few updates included such features as reading lists for offline access, caching articles by default so users can still access it when they go offline, and a whole Offline Library that makes it a seamless experience to switch from online to offline. It is important though that the design of the app itself reflects these changes. For example, they make sure that users know when they are reading an article offline so they’re also aware not just of their connectivity status but also when the offline article was saved. Connected with this, when you click on a link while online, you get a preview of the related article, but when offline, you have the option to save it for reading later when you have connection.
They’ve also added progress indicators to show when an article is being saved to the reading list and when article packs are being downloaded to the offline library. Cacheing the articles is also automatic so that they will still be browseable even if you suddenly go offline while reading. Users can also choose how to save on data usage, like disabling images or choose the “prefer offline content” when loading an article. Sharing things offline is also something they worked on, as users who download content for the offline library can also share them through USB, microSD card, or even Bluetooth.
Since those in low-bandwidth areas also probably need to save up on their battery, a recent update included a black mode so users can have substantial power savings when browsing the Wikipedia Android app. They’re asking for more input from readers who experience restricted or low-bandwidth access so they can continue improving the app for this segment.