Feb 4th, 2012

It had been quite a long wait for the official Wikipedia app to land on the Android Market. Barely two weeks after launch, it has racked up over 500,000 downloads with a 4.5 star average rating. And now, the team behind the app has posted a blog describing the development process.

The most interesting bit to note is the use of PhoneGap, the web-technologies based cross-platform development tool. Such tools have seen a rise in popularity because of the ability to target multiple platforms with the same code.

Rather than diving into proprietary frameworks and SDKs, our application has been built on the same foundation as the open mobile web. And not only does this allow us to prepare for the future, it also accelerates our ability to develop across numerous platforms.

Within a short amount of time we’ve already developed a testing version of our iOS app with PhoneGap and we’ve established our first complete community port to the BlackBerry Playbook. This demonstrates the power of using open tools and communities to improve the Internet as a whole and it is a critical component to our long term goals.”

Many have argued that apps built using web technologies are no match for those built natively. Yet, despite having dabbled with PhoneGap quite a bit myself, I only learnt of its use by the Wiki team upon reading the blog post. Adobe bought PhoneGap’s parent company, Nitobi, last fall prior to announcing the end of mobile Flash.

Do you think Wikipedia’s use of PhoneGap foreshadows a shift towards open web-based technologies in favor of natively built apps?