Wikipedia has quietly made its official Android application available free in the Android Market for anyone using smartphones or tablets running Android 2.2 Froyo and newer OS versions.
Web citizens can access Wikipedia's 20 million-plus articles in more than 280 languages. Users may search for articles, both in full and partial screens and by location, thanks to the phone's GPS.
Wikipedia fans can also save articles to read later or while offline. Users may also share articles they like with friends using Android's "share" function and click one button to translate an article into some 40 languages.
People seem to like the application, which has a 4.4-star rating on the Android Market. Out of some 805 users who have rated this application as of this writing, 533 of them awarded Wikipedia for Android five stars, compared with only 19 people who gave the application one star.
One of the knocks on the application is that GPS for the search-nearby-article function keeps running in the background even after users exit Wikipedia. One Sony Xperia smartphone user complained the application "saturates" the phone's processor. Still others prefer Wikipedia integrate with Google's search application.
Wikipedia for Android has been live since Jan. 13. However, buzz about the application has been buried by the online encyclopedia's zealous opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
Wikipedia opposed the antipiracy law, which many Internet companies believe would cripple the Web and hurt users, by blacking out its Website worldwide for 24 hours Jan. 18. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Facebook, Reddit, Wordpress, Twitter and others also opposed SOPA.
Ironically, Wikipedia for Android was one of the ways users could access the Website's content without seeing the blackout block Wikipedia threw up for desktop browser users.