July 28, 2010
Wikipedia on your iPad, we think we may have found the perfect app for you. Cooliris, best known for those neat browser add-ons, has a new iPad app waiting for Apple's approval that does away with the same old wall of text and images that Wikipedia presents you with, and instead re-formats it in a more iPad friendly magazine-style. Discover by Cooliris takes all of content from Wikipedia and basically chops it up into single serving pieces instead of throwing it all at you at once. When you first launch the app, you will be given the featured article and image of the day. From here you will already notice the great lengths the team at Cooliris went to in order to make you feel like you are reading a magazine. Each Wikipedia entry is treated as if it were a section in a magazine. Your topic of choice will be displayed at the top of the first page, and you can swipe your way through each page to delve deeper. As you progress through the article, the headings will change reflecting which area of the article you are in. Text and images are nicely spaced between each page in order not to overwhelm you; and you won't find any blue links here either, as Cooliris has removed every last one of them to keep your attention focused on what's at hand. But that doesn't mean you can dig deeper, because that's half the fun of Wikipedia. Every single word within an article can be tapped and held on to either bring up the word's definition, or if there is a Wikepedia article for that word, it will bring up a preview of said article. At any time during your Wikipedia visit, you can tap, swipe, touch, shake, and spin your iPad to perform different tasks. Pinching your fingers together will bring up an article's table of contents, allowing you to quickly navigate to a specific area. Spinning the iPad from portrait to landscape mode will always bring up additional content, such as related articles. Swiping from bottom to top will bring up your history. Swiping from top to bottom will allow you to search for something specific. In the search function's case, the possibilities go a little further. If you are in landscape mode and searching, you will see a massive list of articles related to your search term. However, in portrait mode, you will see only a handful of the most relevant ones. Shaking your iPad will always bring you back to the featured article of the day, and if you were already there, it will bring up a random one from day's or year's past. Once you figure out how to access all areas of the app, the navigation process feels just right. Discover may not be the best option for Wikipedia power users, however, since it lacks the ability to access content while offline and save articles for later viewing. It also is limited on themes at this point, including only three different ones, and at times the chosen theme really doesn't tie together with the article all too well. Although, these are just minor quibbles that can be worked out via future updates. Discover by Cooliris should be launching any day now since the app has already been submitted. It will be available for free, but ads will be randomly strewn throughout in a, once again, magazine-style way. A paid, ad-free version isn't currently in the works, but Cooliris may revisit the idea if user interest is high. If you would like to learn more about Discover before it hits the App Store, check out its official page, where you can a view a demo of the app in action. You can also sign up to receive an email the moment it becomes available.