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Old 04-24-2010, 06:30 PM   #1
6charlong
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A useful Wikipedia research tool

I ran across a nifty little app that might interest others on this forum. I often use Wikipedia for fact checking and research. I stumbled across a 99-cent app called Wiki Squared – Wikipedia Reader for iPad. It makes finding and reading articles easier than in Safari. The app doesn’t do much but it doesn’t cost much either and if you use Wikipedia often as I do you might find it worth 99 pennies.
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Old 04-26-2010, 08:09 PM   #2
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I prefer the free wikipanion app myself, I use it on the phone and pad. There's a paid version also, I've never looked into the difference. A friend of mine swears by a wiki app called Articles that's 99 cents, but the free one does good enough for me.
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Old 04-26-2010, 09:29 PM   #3
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I bought both Articles and Wiki2. Here's my take on both:

Articles - Visually the better looking of the two, articles appear on a piece of paper on top of a stack on a wood grain desk background. Eye candy, but nice eye candy. Downloads and completely reformats Wikipedia articles with its own fonts, headers, section breaks. A very nice theme overall, but you have no control over font, coloring, etc. I am fine with how it looks, but others may not.

Overall it looks and acts like Safari with forward & back arrows on top, a search field, the ability to save bookmarks, call up your list of bookmarks and jump to one, and similar window management as Safari on the iPhone. When you press the double square icon you can scroll left and right through full pages, you do not get an iPad-expose-style view. When looking at the pages view you can close your current page, or create a new one, again similar to the iPhone's Safari.

You can edit your bookmarks and it comes with a number of pre-loaded bookmarks, some which are pretty interesting (like "Surprise Me!" which takes you to something random). There's also a "nearby" bookmark which will pull up a Google map of your local area with articles pinned. Nice if you're a tourist somewhere.

Your history is tracked for easy recall of previously searched articles, I could not find any way to delete individual articles from the history but you can clear it.

If you are off-line, any currently open article pages are preserved, as well as some recent history. I'm not sure how large the buffer is. Articles I looked up a few days ago are not present, but everything I ran through today is.

Articles supports portrait and landscape modes in all four orientations.

You can pinch and stretch to zoom the font and page in and out. You can scroll and flick-scroll as with any iPad application. A scroll bar will show up on the right hand side to let you know where you are in a page. A tap-and-hold on the page will bring up a line on the right-side (where the scroll bar is) with little notches to denote article headers. Keeping your finger down, you can quickly jump to one of those section breaks, but you don't know what they are until you navigate to them. You can use this to scroll very quickly through an article without resorting to multiple flicks. Double tapping the status bar (with the clock in it) will jump to the top of the page.

Tapping on a link will follow that link in the same page you are on, holding on a link will allow you to open it in a new page, open it, or copy the URL. Following a link off of Wikipedia will present it in a simple browser along with the option to open it in Safari. Tapping on a graphic will show just the graphic on a black background, you can then copy (to paste elsewhere) or save the image to your photo album. You can perform all the standard iPad text selections and then copy blocks of text as well. Unfortunately you still have to leave the application to paste it into another.

Wiki[Square] - Looks similar to a browser with a large grey bar across the top for your search term, forward and back arrows, a clock icon (for history) and a table of contents icon. There is no bookmark ability.

Articles are downloaded and displayed pretty much as-is. Black text on a white page, no fancy reformatting, really looks no different than looking up an article in Safari (both applications obviously use Webkit). There is a dark woodgrain pattern underneath the white page. There is no control over colors, font face, page colors, etc. You can also not pinch and stretch on a page to shrink/zoom the page and text as you can in Articles.

Wiki2 only displays one article at a time, there are no separate pages as in Articles or Safari for that matter. You can jump between articles quickly using the history menu.

Wiki2 supports portrait and landscape modes in all four orientations.

You can scroll, and flick-scroll as with any iPad application and a scroll bar will show up on the right hand side to let you know where you are within a page. The ToC menu displays all the section breaks (including sub-headings) and allows you to quickly see and jump to a section on the page. Double tapping the status bar (with the clock in it) will jump to the top of the page.

Tapping on a link will follow the link, but navigation was somewhat buggy trying to use the back-arrow to go back, it often did not take me back to the page I linked from but to other places in my history. Following a link off of Wikipedia will present it in a simple browser, there is no option to open it in Safari. I could repeat this behavior with specific links but then other links worked fine. So I'm not sure if this was because of the links in Wikipedia or a bug in the application. Tapping on a graphic will show that graphic or take you back to the previous page. You can not save or copy a graphic. Holding on a link will let you open or copy the link, there is no ability to open on a new page as Wiki2 doesn't support multiple pages. You can perform all the standard iPad text selections and then copy blocks of text as well.

If you are off-line, the currently open article page is preserved, as well as some history. again I am not sure how large the buffer is. Neither application mentions their buffer size.

My conclusion:

Of the two, I prefer Articles. It has a better look to it (which some might not prefer) and I like the ability to have multiple pages open, you can have up to 9 pages open at once. Using the history to jump between articles in Wiki2 is ok, but slower to re-render each article, especially longer articles. The pinch/stretch to zoom text on a page is nice, as is the ability to copy graphics. Wiki2's chrome was a little distracting as well where Articles blends it into the page you are viewing. Wiki2 also had the problem with the forward/back arrows that I did not experience in Articles. Articles just had more features, the "Nearby" bookmark is pretty handy if you travel a lot, though you will need a network connection (hotspot or 3G iPad). If they copy the ToC menu from Wiki2 it won't be much of a contest, Wiki2 just has far fewer features.

Neither application had any settings panels that I could find. Both note that you can set your language, they must grab it from the system language.

Both apps are a buck although Articles is only on sale until the developer is "happy with the iPad version," whatever that means. I'd say for now it's a buck well spent. Not sure what the final price will be.

Articles: 4 out of 5.
For not having an easy way to see what section header you're jumping to, and not being able to change the font face or colors of the text and backgrounds.

Wiki2: 2 out of 5.
It's only advantages over Safari are a history cache and the ToC menu.
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