Wikipedia for KaiOS
Wikipedia mobile app for the KaiOS operating system
In line with the mission to make the sum of all knowledge free to all, the Inuka team is building a Wikipedia app for KaiOS users. KaiOS is a mobile operating system based on Linux. It gives smart-like capabilities to feature phones by enabling the use of apps. These phones come with limited computing capabilities, hardware keys, and a small screen display. It brings popular apps like YouTube, Twitter and WhatsApp to users who wouldn’t be able to afford a smartphone.
KaiOS is used on 160 million devices around the world, with around 100 million active users most of which are Jiophones in India. The Inuka team ran qualitative research in India to understand why and how these users use these phones. We learnt that users chose to purchase these phones because they're affordable and allow access to apps like smartphones do. We also learned the challenges they face trying to read Wikipedia within the native mobile browser. Challenges included ability to scroll through content, text size on the screen, searching for content and lack of awareness that Wikipedia content is available in multiple languages.
KaiOS phones have a small, 2.8 inch display, non-touch screen. In designing the app, we had to consider how we would present information from Wikipedia on the small screen size in a way that would provide a good reading experience for the target audience.
For the first version, the team wanted to make sure that users would be able to read and search for Wikipedia articles in their language of choice. In the design and engineering, we considered how users would be introduced to Wikipedia, how they discover articles, and how they navigate easily within articles.
Research showed that, in India and other parts of emerging markets, there is low awareness of Wikipedia. We wanted to focus the onboarding experience on defining what Wikipedia is in simple language to a user who may or may not have used Wikipedia before.
Page by page scrolling
Wikipedia articles, at least the really good ones, are relatively long. In our research, users indicated that they found it frustrating to scroll down with the hardware keys as it needed many key presses. We have introduced page by page scrolling, that allows a user to read the article as if they were reading a book, rather than scrolling pixel by pixel.
Language choice and selection
Research has also shown that it is not easy to discover the languages that Wikipedias are available in, particularly in Emerging Markets. We have placed the option to change language where a reader can always see it.
Table of contents
Similar to the Android and iOS apps for Wikipedia, we wanted to give users the functionality to be able to quickly switch to the sections of interest within an article
At the start of an article, we provided quick links for users to choose how they would like to navigate - they can choose to:
- see the sections of an article,
- read quick facts (which is the content in the infobox),
- See a gallery of images in an article
- Switch the language of the article
- Go directly to read the article summary
The first version of the app was released on 9th September 2020 in India. The app was released to KaiOS users on 7th December 2020. Readers can find the Wikipedia app in the JioStore in India and in the KaiStore in all parts of the world where KaiOS phones are available.
For the first version, the app does not support editing. Editing articles in the form factor of the KaiOS phone is complex, time-consuming and likely to lead to errors. We are following the work of other teams at WMF, who are working on allowing micro contributions through phones, and plan to provide editing capability in future releases. Editing Wikipedia is still available on the native mobile browser.
Enhanced search function
KaiOS search function allows all words in a user's search query to show results.
Wikipedia for KaiOS Version 1.6.0
The Version 1.6.0 was released in early 2021 with:
- A content engagement experiment: half of the users in Nigeria, Uganda, Pakistan and Tanzania will see a feature that shows a daily refreshed list of Trending articles in their country
- Ability to share an article URL
- No QuickFacts button from article actions
- Improved localization
Growing app usage
As part of the Wikimedia Foundation's partnership with KaiOS, in January 2021 we began running advertisements to increase the visibility and downloads of the Wikipedia app on the KaiOS platform. As most KaiOS adopters are first-time internet users, they are far less likely to know that Wikipedia exists—let alone use it on a regular basis.
KaiOS regularly displays small banner ads to their phone users while they are browsing the internet, and we are using their standard process for placing our ads. Each of our banner ads are composed of two parts:
- A short message about Wikipedia
- A button that brings users to Wikipedia's listing in the KaiOS app store where they have the option to download it
These ads are running globally in English, Spanish, French, and Arabic, languages which cover approximately 90% of KaiOS's current userbase. No ads are or will be run on the KaiOS Wikipedia app.
Please visit the FAQ page.
How to contribute
You can contribute translations in your language on translatewiki.net.
Our code base is located at https://github.com/wikimedia/wikipedia-kaios
- Content engagement experience based on showing readers top read content in their country increased engagement with content by 15% overall.
- Release version 1.6.0 to the KaiStore that introduced the ability to share an article URL, migration to our new analytics service and improved localization.
- Launched a content engagement experience in Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Pakistan, showing readers top read Wikipedia content in their country on the app homepage.
- Release the Wikipedia app for KaiOS on the KaiStore, to users around the world where KaiOS phones are available
- Run a usability study in India where we learned of the challenges users were facing within the app. The main areas for improvement were in the search experience, and simplifying the onboarding process and allowing easier use of the feature that allows changing text size
- Had 1.6 million app downloads at the end of Q2
- Released the first version of the Wikipedia app to KaiOS users in India who use JioPhones.
- Introduced support for RTL languages
- Updated copy for onboarding
- Improved image gallery
- Performance and security optimizations
- Introduced a feature where when KaiOS users in India want to select their preferred language, regional languages are shown first on the list https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T247255
- Fixes to support how the app works on Jiophone 2 which has a qwerty keyboard rather than a candybar keyboard https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T248285 https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T248443 https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T250642
- Allow users to provide feedback from within the app https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T236317