Wikipedia for KaiOS

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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 user research in India

KaiOS is used on 100 million devices around the world, 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.

Design challenge[edit]

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.

Feature highlights[edit]

Onboarding flow[edit]

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.

Welcome to Wikipedia screen on KaiOS

Page by page scrolling[edit]

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.

Gif showing page by page navigation on the Wikipedia app for KaiOS

Language choice and selection[edit]

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.

In this screen, KaiOS users can change their language

Table of contents[edit]

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

Article Quick links[edit]

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
Quick links on Wikipedia for KaiOS

App availability[edit]

The first version of the app was released on 9th September 2020 in India. The app will continue to have updates and reach more countries over time.

Edit functionality[edit]

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.

Known issues[edit]

The following limitations and known issues apply to the first release, V 1.0.0:

  • RTL languages are not yet fully supported. Will be supported for the next release
  • Translations for the UI not fully completed for several languages
How to contribute[edit]

You can contribute translations in your language on translatewiki.net .

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