August 20, 2009
Wikipedia says it has released an iPhone application as part of a drive to open the pages of its revered online encyclopedia to the booming ranks of smart phone users.
Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organisation behind Wikipedia, has made free software for iPhones available at Apple's online App Store.
"Everybody recognises with the growth of mobile tools globally that this is how people access information," said foundation spokesman Jay Walsh.
"Our mission is to spread free knowledge; we want to do everything we can to meet and embrace that audience."
Wikimedia foundation is a small operation with a staff of fewer than 30 people, so it contracted a US developer that was already working on Wikipedia software for Apple's coveted iPhones.
"Our intention is to house the source code and continue to update the application through Apple channels with subsequent releases," Walsh said.
"Then, obviously, take it to other platforms like Palm and Android. We want to take the same tool and make it work in other spaces."
Wikipedia can be reached using web browsers in iPhones and other internet-linked mobile devices, but the pages are scaled-down versions of what is accessible using desktop computers.
The Wikipedia application for iPhones is an open-source, first version that the foundation hopes to incrementally upgrade with input from software savants worldwide, according to Walsh.
"In a perfect world you would be able to do everything on a mobile you could do on a personal computer," Walsh said of using Wikipedia on smart phones.
"It is a platform we are going to build on. The sky is the limit; we can do whatever we want."
Wikipedia envisions people eventually being able to use smart phones to edit entries and upload pictures or other digital content to the website.