Since last quarter the WMF’s iOS team  (part of the Reading product
group) has been working on a major version update to our iOS app .
Rather than adding new features to the existing app, the team took on the
goal of re-thinking our mobile readers, and how we could provide them with
a delightful, app-specific, experience that will keep them reading
Wikipedia on iOS.
After an extended alpha period we’re ready to share that work with you, and
we’re looking forward to your feedback!
Sign up for the Beta by registering here: https://goo.gl/forms/hNxPJah57p
Once we are approved by Apple, you will receive a notification to install
the beta via the TestFlight platform.
I will also be giving a walkthrough of the app, as a lighting talk tomorrow
at 11 PST. It will be one of several to the WMF’s monthly lightning talks
for Dec, which will stream here:
Product Manager, Reading
Our aim was to give our users an easier and more inviting way to discover
and read Wikipedia on iOS, and find experiences to keep them engaged. So,
there are few new features or changes to the core features, but an all new
look-and-feel, and many changes to navigation around that core. 5.0 is a
complete overhaul from the ground up, but some major highlights include:
New Explore screen, a mobile-friendly way to enable that Wikipedia
moment of serendipity
“First time user experience” that helps users get oriented and configure
All new user interface look-and-feel
Tab based navigation for one tap access to your History and Saved pages
Redesigned reader experience, with new page information and table of
Easy access to language switching while searching and reading
Why is the app so different than the previous one?
Although the existing iOS app is well reviewed, and has been featured by
Apple, it has never been able to build a sizable audience. Compared to
other content sites on the internet, our official apps have not been able
to keep our iOS users engaged as they shifted from desktop browsers to
mobile apps. In order to “try again” to see if we could engage readers, and
also keep them engaged, we’re trying a totally new way of presenting
ourselves on iOS. You can read a lot more about this on our project wiki
 and in this product presentation .
What’s this Explore thing?
The app’s Explore screen is a new, mobile friendly, way to experience the
joy of discovery on Wikipedia. It mixes community curated content (from the
en.wikipedia Main Page and Commons) with personally relevant content (based
on articles you’ve read and your device location). All this is compiled
locally on device and presented in a UI paradigm that is friendly to short,
touch based sessions for casual consumption of media. It is an attempt to
find a new way to engage, and re-engage, readers on a regular basis, by
providing them a wide variety of dynamically changing content, presented in
a familiar format. We think it can be very powerful way to enable mobile
users to have that magic Wikipedia moment of discovery.
Where’s my favorite old feature?
Many features that were previously part of the “W” menu are now included in
the Explore page. Random articles and articles near your location can both
be found by exploring your feed. Other parts of the app now live in the
main tab bar (Recent and Saved pages), or in the upper bar (Settings). Not
finding something you loved? Fill out our feedback form and let us know
What’s missing? Known issues?
- Feed language and site: Currently the Explore page takes its content
from your current “site”, based on your current search language. We will
need to add more nuance to our site and language controls. If you are a
multilingual user of the app, we’re particularly interested to get your
- The app can be overly aggressive about updating/refreshing content. We
erred on the side of getting the “latest” content.
- Some localizations and RTL language support are incomplete (especially on
iOS 8). We are actively working on this.
- Navigation issues: although the tab based main interface has been well
liked by users, the new navigation flows have introduced some
inconveniences for longer sessions and quickly accessing some less
frequently used but much loved features. We look forward to hearing from
you about what you like, and don’t, about the new navigation.
How can I give feedback?
We have a feedback form you can fill out (anonymously) here  or on the
project’s wiki talk page here .
The team will also be at the wiki dev summit
<https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Developer_Summit_2016>, if you
want to talk IRL!
 - https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Apps/Team/iOS
 - https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Apps/Team/Why_5
 - Also available on wiki at https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/FAQ_about_5.0