Using Wikipedia on the iPad when you don’t have Internet access

Very few apps on the iPad will work without being able to connect to the Internet. Mostly text/document editor and photo editors are happy offline till it comes time to share. For looking up information though, you need to find access to the net.

Years ago, on our Palm devices, very little Internet access was possible since there was nearly no WiFi networks and connecting via cell network was expensive and usually meant a lot more hardware to haul around. Because of this, we learned how to gather data we needed and stored it local to the device.

When buzzing around the office or between meetings in a client’s office, we are not always able to get a clean Internet connection. It always seems like it is during that time we need to look something up.

From our Palm days, we knew that Wikipedia does regular exports of all of their pages that can be downloaded and used offline. There is several issues though; it takes a while to pull the DB file together and download… and install. Also, the files where all text, no images included. The file was several hundred Megs, a big file in the day.

It would appear that others have the same need to have access to the Wikipedia information resources offline as we do. Wiki Offline is a universal app that does just that, allow access to Wikipedia data when your iPad is not connected to the Internet.

The Wiki Offline app is priced in the area of other Dictionary apps. What is unique is the need to pay for the data dump (3 gigs) from the developer of Wikipedia’s content. Each full database download is 99 cents. In the world of iPad apps, it seems like a ‘big’ extra charge each update but we talked through how long it would take us to pull the data and assemble it for iPad reading, 99 cents sounds more reasonable now. And, if you feel you need regular data updates, you can buy bundles to lower the cost. We’re going to track how often ‘up-to-the-second’ data is needed for our research versus just general info that could be six months old and still give us what we need.

The 3 gig file that loads into Wiki Offline does not include images and tables. Those still require to be connected to the Internet. A person has to decide what info is needed for their particular needs. Our quick conference room vote found that quick access to research info when offline was more important than having images which could wait till we where able to connect to the Internet.