Wikipedia has a very functional and actively-developed mobile web version of the site, so you might be inclined to wonder, "What's the benefit of having native apps, when I can simply access Wikipedia from my mobile browser?" Glad you asked!
Here in the Mobile Apps team, we believe that mobile users deserve the most seamless and integrated experience for interacting with Wikipedia content.
Whether it's looking up random facts, or performing in-depth research on a particular subject, there are plenty of features, and plenty of functionality, that is simply impossible to accomplish using a web-based interface, and that's where our apps come in:
Imagine a widget on the home screen of your device that automatically presents you with suggestions for Wikipedia articles to read, based on your past preferences. Or a widget that shows you trending news, and Wikipedia articles related to the subjects of the news.
Imagine a notification that automatically appears on your device that informs you that someone has edited an article that is on your watch list. Or a notification that an important holiday is coming up, complete with a link to the Wikipedia article for the holiday, so that you don't embarrass yourself in front of your fiancé's parents by not knowing the proper customs.
All of these things are made possible by a native app!
Ever wanted to reimagine how Wikipedia works, and is presented to users? The mobile apps make this possible.
Since the user base of our mobile apps is still relatively small, we feel that we have a real opportunity to make some bold moves in terms of design and presentation. The native apps are in the process of redefining how the user interacts with Wikipedia articles, and how the articles and their associated media are presented to the user.
With the native apps, the Wikimedia Foundation has an opportunity to join the ranks of the other top players in the mobile app world, and to become an influencer in mobile design and integration.
To sum up
The mission of Wikipedia is to be the sum of human knowledge.
The mission of the native apps is to bring this knowledge as close as possible to the user's fingertips.
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