Introducing lead images to Wikipedia's Android beta app

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"Lead images on the Wikipedia Android app" by Deskana (WMF), under CC-BY-SA-3.0
“Lead images on the Wikipedia Android app” by Deskana (WMF), under CC-BY-SA-3.0

Here in the Mobile Apps Team at the Wikimedia Foundation, we’re working to make it easier for the world to experience knowledge on mobile. More and more, users around the world are accessing Wikipedia on the go through their mobile devices, and it’s important that they can easily and quickly get the information they seek.
Especially on the smaller, portable screens of mobile, readers need seamless and intuitive ways to interact with content and learn. With that in mind, for the past few months we’ve been working on a restyling of how the first section of content in articles appears in the Wikipedia app. Our newest feature that we are testing in Android now more prominently displays the most relevant image for the reader at the beginning of each article. We hope that this will help set the context for the reader and naturally lead them into the text to learn more.
In order to build a more functional and compelling mobile experience on the apps, here’s what we’ve done recently:

    • A prominent image from the article is now displayed at the top of each page, including parallax scrolling!
    • Face detection centers on the face of the subject in the image.
    • Images are displayed in a mobile-friendly image viewer panel when selected.
    • A short description about the article from Wikidata is displayed for additional context.
    • The first sentence of the article is available on the initial view.
    • Page issue tags and disambiguation are wrapped up into buttons underneath the page title.

We’ve released this work to our Wikipedia Beta app for Android and hope you’ll check it out! Remember that this is a peek into our ongoing work, and that since this is a beta app the feature is subject to change and, as always, there may be the odd bug while we round our testing off. Meanwhile, we’re diligently working to also bring this to iOS.
Text has always been central to the Wikipedia experience, but as they say: a picture is worth a thousand words. The Wikimedia movement is lucky to have a wealth imagery on our projects, and we’re excited to put it to good use with this new feature.
And, if you’re an engineer with experience building apps and want to join us in building the future of mobile for Wikipedia, we’re hiring!
Dan Garry, Associate Product Manager, Mobile Apps Team, Wikimedia Foundation

Archive notice: This is an archived post from, which operated under different editorial and content guidelines than Diff.

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This looks great. I’m interested in the face detection, does it happen on the client side, or is the data somewhere available? Also, could you link the app source more clearly? I think the “website” link on play could link to some kind of app homepage, not just to the WMF homepage.

The face detection happens on the client size using libraries built in to Android. We don’t have a primary page for the app yet which is why we link to the Wikimedia Foundation home page. When we have a page for the app, we’ll be sure to link it!

As noted on email, the header-image feature is not yet fit for purpose.
I’ve found a number of bugs (all on HTC Desire HD, running Android 2.3.5, native browser), which can be seen in:
They include text over key parts of images (images numbered 3 and 4) and badly cropped images (2, 5, 6 ,7),
(Image 1 shows a different problem, with the featured article.)
The image viewer also activated when I tapped on other parts of the page, even when the image was scrolled off-screen.
I trust this feature won’t go live until the issues are properly resolved.

Its look great. Thanks for sharing.

Its looks pretty cool. Thanks for sharing.

It’s look pretty more responsive…