WikiNodes for iPad – Making Wikipedia Fun to Explore

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WikiNodes for iPad

WikiNodes is a new iPad app that offers a lively new approach to working with Wikipedia. As the name might suggest, it uses nodes to represent articles and to show how articles and subjects are related.

I’ve tried a handful of Wikipedia apps for iOS and would not generally be enthusiastic about looking at another one; but this app’s distinctly different interface interested me enough to give it a go.

Notes

WikiNodes for iPad

When you launch WikiNodes you’re presented with a number of nodes dotted around the screen. These represent a featured article for the day, a series of ‘On This Day’ nodes linked to articles about major events that happened on this date, and a series of ‘In the News’ nodes with topical articles.

You can tap and drag to move nodes around on the screen. Tapping on any individual node opens it up at small size with a brief synopsis of its content. A further tap on the arrows icon at top right of the node container pulls it up at larger size and shows a full article or subject entry. Nodes for single subjects are surrounded by nodes for related topics.

Links within articles are tap-able.

WikiNodes iPad app

Highlights

– The WikiNodes UI is a fresh approach and is a fun way to get more involved with Wikipedia content. The On This Day and In the News featured nodes draw you in and lead you to explore a bit. I could see this being a fun app for teachers – as it it can provide new topics for discussion, share a little history each day for students, and let students see at a glance how topics are inter-connected. 

WikiNodes iPad app

– There’s a search bar in the app so you can use it in more typical ways as well. It auto-populates likely subjects as you type.

SirAlexFerguson

Lowlights

– At times when you select a search term the results come up very slowly. In-article links can be quite slow to load as well.

– The app doesn’t remember where you left off. It always drops you back out at the main start screen when you switch away and return to it.

– There are some inconsistent interface elements. For instance, some nodes once you tap on them show arrows to toggle them expanded or collapsed, others just show a small link saying show this node

Overall

WikiNodes is a light feeling, fun and different take on Wikipedia for the iPad. It needs some work on the performance issues mentioned above and polishing the UI a bit, but it’s still a very likable app.

Here’s an App Store link for WikiNodes; it’s priced at $0.99.

Disclosure: This app was independently purchased by the post author in the iPad App Store. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the "About" page.

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Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

3 thoughts on “WikiNodes for iPad – Making Wikipedia Fun to Explore

  1. Thanks for the review! I am the product manager for WikiNodes. I appreciate the criticisms. Coming soon (approx 21-May) are multiple languages (over 20 of the most common Wikipedia languages), and fixes to the user interface problems you saw. Some notes:

    ~ Speed: We have some ideas for speed improvements, which should be available in June. We can display some nodes immediately, and other related nodes a little later.

    ~ Remembering where you left off: We will be adding bookmarks and history around late June. We have not decided whether the app should always start on a “welcome” screen, or always start where you last left off. What do you think?

    ~ Inconsistent interface elements: Many of those inconsistencies will be fixed in the next update (in the app store on approx 21-May). For example, see in the third image in this review, the orange node title is small. There’s a bug in how node titles are displayed in the current app version. This bug only affects new buyers since 9-May, not people who upgraded from the first version. (The bug has to do with a cached font.)

    If your readers try out the app and have other suggestions, they can send them via the app’s “Feedback” page. We love suggestions!

    • Hi Michael

      Thanks for taking time to reply here. Speed improvements and work on some of the UI inconsistencies sounds good.

      Remembering where you left off – maybe it is best to always open to the launch screen, but perhaps have a ‘Recents’ tab? Bookmarks and History are good, but sometime if you’re just browsing, it’s cool to be able to just see the last handful of places you were at.

  2. Thanks for your additional comments. After thinking about it, I agree the app should have a common launch/welcome screen. There should be an easy way to see the history in general, as well as recents (which I agree is most useful). Also, I’d like to have some way to flag/favorite articles for later.

    Along with some of the bugfixes mentioned above, we’re going to have a full 36 languages supported in the next update — that’s all Wikipedias with 100k or more articles — Some of those languages are fully localized (the app is entirely in the language), and others browse another language, but the user interface is in English. — That version will be submitted in 2 days, and should be in the app store on approx 21-May. We’re still working out some kinks with the right-to-left languages.