Last Friday we had a brown-bag presentation & discussion session at the WMF
San Francisco office with Brandon Harris showing the "Athena" skin design
mockups he's been building.
This effort is built around a "mobile-first" design direction that could
eventually combine with the main web UI to make a scalable universal
interface... in the short to medium term, we expect to use these designs
for the mobile web / mobile app UI, a great place to experiment where today
we have a blank state.
Mockup images & the ideas behind this design direction are on mediawiki.org,
please give feedback!
The full-size screen & video recording of the session is now on Commons
(1280x800, about 45 minutes, ~500 mb):
and also a lower-resolution version which may play smoother inline
(640x400, ~115 mb):
(Thanks to Roan for importing the oversize video files to Commons for me!)
If there's interest I'd love for us to do more of these kinds of sessions
showing things that we're working on "at the office" to keep everybody in
the loop and socialize ideas more during the early stages... we could
probably rig up real-time streaming so people not at the office can watch
live and participate (questions via IRC?).
-- brion vibber (brion @ wikimedia.org)
Lead Software Architect
On Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 11:48 AM, Parul Vora <pvora(a)wikimedia.org> wrote:
> hey guys. we've talked about searching and finding wikipedia content
> without explicit search with features like 'wikitap' making any mobile web
> content a starting point for a wikipedia search. for example, i'm reading
> an article on the NYT on my mobile device and i see the term "healthcare
> reform" which i can then click and navigate to the wikipedia article on
> healthcare reform, if it exists. i ran across a company doing some nice
> things along these lines - apture....with a feature called hotspots.
> check it out. looks like they've been acquired by google......parul
Hi Wikipedians/Mobil-Lians, Following the lead of others at WMF, I've
attached some non-scientific mobile notes after a 9 day visit to Egypt and
a four day trip to Qatar.
With no surprise, mobile phone usage has increased in these two countries
(call it political revolution, social media fascination, and a high
concentration of connectors/community-oriented folk). Attached are pictures
of mobile phones and a few findings which hopefully informas and maybe
piques more interest (like data gathering) on device-use in the Middle East
and North Africa.
In *Egypt*, there are four main cellular communication services:
- Mobinil <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobinil>
- Vodafone Egypt <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vodafone_Egypt>
- Etisalat Egypt <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etisalat_Egypt>
- Orascom Telecom
In *Qatar*, the lone carrier is:
- Qtel <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qtel>
Mobile Use and the Impact on Arabic
One Egyptian professor stated: "The uptick in phone use will cause Arabic
readership to increase; writing in Modern Standard Arabic will be helpful
or essential for people if they want to participate in the communication
wave, whether through texting or emailing. People want to stay informed on
the current events happening across the MENA region."
What Does This Mean?
- Technology could play a role in resuscitating Arabic.
- Between the varied opinions, and two different economies (Qatar and
Egypt), undoubtedly reading and writing in Arabic and English will increase.
- Arabic content on Wikipedia could boost readership on mobile
this region if people have these types of devices.
- On the flip-side, the professor and I discussed that English could also
grow as the “lingua franca”, thus decreasing Arabic readership; however, I
don't have the modeling tools to predict this. :(
In Cairo, many locals use cheaper, no-name brand phones that have great
media functions. For many, capturing the local protests through videos and
photos is still important for sharing content with a wider audience. Of
course this is just a sample size of the community, but it reflects how
people are using technology for another different set of purposes in Egypt.
One person commented that some phones look like Transformers: one moment it
can makes calls and within seconds, snap into a camera for pictures or
videos. In general, Egyptians are heavy users of mobile phones (just sit in
the back of a taxi and you’ll witness this).
iPhones would be more popular if priced lower and if data was cheaper.
Cairenes use a mix of mobile brands from Korea, phones less commonly seen
in the United States. Egyptians primarily send text messages, make calls
and use the media function on a phone. Emailing is a lower priority (which
explains the lag in response time!).
In Egypt, people tend to browse the Internet less because of the costs of
sending data. Another sample size of users owned mostly Blackberries
(primarily to send text messages and email). Transferring data also costs
less on a Blackberry.
*Use of Mobile Web -- Facebook, IM apps, etc.* From a limited sample size
in Cairo, I didn't see many people using apps or logging into Facebook (dueto
high data expenses) unless they were within reach of WiFi.
Challenges of Reading Arabic on Phones and Accessing Wikipedia
1. Many people don't know that they can access Wikipedia on their phones
2. Arabic script renders incorrectly on certain mobile platforms
3. There is a lack of Arabic content on Arabic Wikipedia so people will
search less in this language
4. Data costs are high in Egypt
5. Low literacy rates, especially in the rural areas of Egypt
Samples of Phones Used in Egypt and Qatar
1. Person 1 (Egypt): uses two devices simultaneously
- Phones: HTC Windows device and 1 iPod touch for the WiFi aspect
- Findings: Arabic Wikipedia displays correctly on iPod touch (expected!)
2. Person 2 (Qatar): one device
- Phone: Nokia E72 (Vodafone)
- Findings: Arabic Wikipedia on the Nokia renders correctly on the Nokia
3. Person 3 (Egypt): one device
- Phone: LG GS505
- Finding: Arabic Wikipedia was garbled. Person uses phone only for
texting and email, not necessarily for talking.
- Added note: In Qatar, Blackberry phones and Nokia smartphones seem to
be the preferred devices.
*Additional Research: **Interviewees from Jordan and Palestinian Territories
*How do people top up their phones?*
There are phone pre-paid plans where people pay a yearly fee or use a
Jawal is the most expensive. Orange, Zain and Omnia are also popular
carriers. I spoke with one Jordanian woman and she uses three phone lines.
She is committed to Orange (since '06) because the rates are good and the
network is coverage is decent. Palestinians uses Jawal which is the most
popular. Palestinians have more restricted coverage and 3G use in their
*Would people be willing to do a quick surveys/answering a few questions?
*It depends on the length of the survey and how will this benefit our
country (she recommends communicating the incentives to respond in the
survey). It also depends on the number on questions. 20 minutes is time
consuming for doing a survey.
*How do people get their news?
*People hear about updates on technology, companies, ideas, etc. through
Facebook and less through Twitter. Newspapers are also helpful sources of
information. She also uses Wikipedia
This person (works at a tech company) and didn't know that Wikipedia could
Shokran jazeelan | شكرا
Catalyst Project Associate | Global Development
Wikimedia Foundation | http://wikimediafoundation.org/
I was browsing the Mac App Store the other day and was slightly surprised
to see that a desktop Wikipedia (which *isn't* fully offline) is in the top
200 apps bought.
Have we ever made a connection with this developer? They also make an
offline version of this and one for WikiTravel.
Community Organizer at Wikimedia Foundation
As we've continued with our beta (http://bit.ly/w4E2zn) its becoming
abundantly clear from feedback and our own research that we need to
get better about search. Search is the primary way that people start
their interaction with Wikipedia and we currently do it poor at best
We've taken the first stabs at it
* Change the search input box to stretch to full width (horizontal & landscape)
* Lower the amount of search results and increase the font size of
what we do show
* Include spaces in between results to better segment each item
* Add a "+" to refine search term by term (our search data set will
need to get better to make this more awesome)
Thats already way better then what we've had in the past but we still
need to do more.
We need to make some choices about where we take search next. One
current problem is that were not really using our screen real estate
as effectively as we could on mobile. Whenever I see users using
search their consistently moving forward. Their not interacting with
the content thats on the article that their on and instead they want
something new. If thats the basic case then why should we be wastin
screen real estate on a tiny device that no on is really using. This
is a basic fact of mobile that you need to focus the user on what's
happening not distracting the with noise.
I took a look at a lot of mobile sites and one stuck out to me as
really interesting for search.
bing.com (yes i know its microsoft .. lets pay attention to the design
rather then the ideology)
Go to their site on a mobile (on a mobile) and start typing in text.
Notice how its now stolen your whole screen for search? Its loud but
thats the point. People are searching and moving forward. Not
interacting with the content thats on the screen.
Other good examples
http://m.yelp.com/ (really good use of images)
There are other design hurdles to tackle but I think we can do a lot
of good by just tweaking search before we do a big UI redesign.
I spent a little of my weekend time tweaking the new PhoneGap-based Android
app to make it less dependent on, well, Android. And even on PhoneGap. ;)
The app can now build with PhoneGap for iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)
though there are some problems. The iOS stub source and Xcode project are
in the main git repo along with the Android bits, so nothing needs to be
separately maintained or copied.
Do note the major problems noted at the bottom of that page; there may be a
bug in PhoneGap itself that's causing articles to open in Safari instead of
in the iframe, and we don't yet have a non-Android menu implementation
so not all features are accessible.
In addition, the app can now run without PhoneGap at all -- if you load it
straight into a web browser it'll try to just go on its merry way without
initializing the Android or PhoneGap-specific bits. This actually functions
in Chrome -- but for now only if you launch Chrome with the
--disable-web-security option which isn't a good idea. ;)
It needs currently-forbidden cross-origin access to things in the iframe
and over XHR, and will need to be tweaked to work more directly in regular
browsers... but this is a good indication that it'll be relatively easy to
port this to other HTML/JS-based app environments, such as WebOS, ChromeOS,
Mozilla's experimental Boot2Gecko project, etc.
If nothing else, it's a lot quicker to reload in Chrome than to relaunch
the app in an Android emulator. ;)
As with the iOS version, there's no Android popup menu and we don't yet
have an alternate.
A few features -- eg the 'Articles near me' map view -- currently are
implemented as Android-specific plugins and will need iOS and general web
As i've seen this list get used more and more its made me increasingly
frustrated to not see its archives open. Why aren't they open you say?
.. because this list was initially used for user feedback. Now wether
you agree that those are private or not we have a private archive
right now and that sucks.
For those wanting more detail check out :
We seem to have three choices but certainly let me know if you have a another
1) Open the archives as is
2) Delete the archives and start fresh
3) Move to a different list
I like #1 and #2 with a slight bias toward #2 as it means we don't
surface comments that someone made if what they were assuming was
private. I really don't want to do #3 as we already lists to think
about and keeping them simple like mobile-l@ is key.
As we think of projects that we would like to work on at the Mumbai
hackathon in mid November, I'd like to examine development of GPS data based
custom mobile map applications. Having custom maps that can be developed
using GPS data as well as generated and shared via mobile devices could open
up contributions to content specific maps on Wikimedia sites. These custom
maps could be incredibly useful to view with articles on places, treks on
topics such as hiking in the Himalayas or Alps, tracing historic
battlegrounds, or trekking though wildlife sanctuaries.
Android recently released an open source app named CustomMaps to help build
such apps. Check out http://code.google.com/p/custom-maps/.
I would really like mobile app developers take up the challenge of building
such apps for Wikipedia content. Anyone interested :-)