The free Wikipedia app for Android puts at your fingertips the wealth of information, opinion and scabrous misinformation that makes up the world's favourite user-written encyclopedia. But is it worth installing when Wikipedia works so well on Android's native Google Chrome browser?
There are lots of Wikipedia apps on the Android market (including one called somewhat cheekily 'Wikipedia for Android'). The correct one is called simply 'Wikipedia'. Look for 'Wikimedia Foundation' as the publisher. See also: Best Android Apps.
The official Wikipedia Android app works well. It looks much like the mobile web version of Wikipedia but, although it is clearly designed for smartphone-sized screens, it looks perfectly fine on our Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1's 10in screen, in portrait mode at least. Landscape is something of a car crash (as you can see from the screenshot below).
The app is in essence the Wikipedia website in app form. You have access to the millions of multilingual, crowd-sourced encyclopedic articles in a clean layout with what feels like marginally quicker response times than the web. This makes sense for what is a very stripped-down smartphone app. In the middle of the top of the homescreen is a searchbar. Search results are laid out in a similar, simple manner to the way they appear on the mobile browser. The key information at the top, with dedicated links for subsections. Again, the way the app renders such information appears to the untrained eye to be a little smoother than on the open web.
And if that isn't enough to make you decide that using a dedicated app is the way you wish to do your Wiki research, there are definitive bonuses to Wikipedia for Android, as opposed to the web version. You can save searches, for instance. You search history is stored locally, and with GPS enabled you can read articles pertaining to your current location.
Or perhaps you would like to share articles using the dedicated Android "Share" function? There's also the slightly esoteric options to read an article in a different language, and the opportunity for full screen search. All of the above functionalities worked well in our tests, and the Wikipedia app never once crashed.