Qwiki will read Wikipedia to you and show you pictures related to over 3 million articles, but after every Qwiki was over, we were always left wanting more.
What originally started as a website has been released today as a great-looking iPad app.
Qwiki essentially reads a Wikipedia article to you, while displaying an animated slideshow of relevant images.
Qwiki has been around since last fall and shows a lot of promise. TechCrunch is so convinced that they awarded Qwiki $50,000 for winning their Disrupt contest, but then Qwiki’s basic mechanics were duplicated with less than 400 lines of code.
The Qwiki-clone helped convince us further that Qwiki may just be a lot of hype.
When you boot up Qwiki, it’s easy to find an article to watch and listen to, and the presentation is beautiful to watch. But then it ends, often abruptly, in a minute or so.
Qwiki constructs video learning experiences that feel formulaic, and you quickly realise that in most cases, Qwiki’s (generally) eloquent robo-speaker simply reads the Wikipedia article’s introduction and displays pictures from Wikimedia Commons [that are tagged with specific keywords related to the article].
After using the app today, we’d only end up using going forward if we could navigate the different sections of a Wikipedia article and choose which one we wanted to hear/see. Hearing an intro is not nearly enough.
In this regard, Qwiki is only as strong as the introduction written about a topic in Wikipedia. Sometimes, the app seems to pull the first paragraph from another segment of the Wikipedia article like, for George Clooney’s “Personal Life” or “Humanitarian Work.”
We wanted to learn more about Usain Bolt, but the Qwiki entry only contained a brief introduction talking about the world records he set. It would’ve been wonderful to see an option to watch his world record run at the Olympics.
A feature like this could truly set Qwiki apart from being a Wikipedia intro browser that integrates Wikimedia Commons pictures. But, we do like that you can access the actual Wikipedia article from within the app, which is great if you want to learn more.
Another issue we had is that some of the pictures included in Qwiki’s aren’t even always relevant. We watched a Qwiki on Soldier Field in Chicago and found ourselves staring at a US marine for a few seconds while Qwiki told us about Soldier Field’s seating capacity (pictured).
We do, however, like the graphics the app uses to illustrate certain statistics, but we quickly tired of them after viewing several actors’ Qwikis that all began with the same “how old is this person” illustration.
Take a tour of Qwiki below, and then watch our video interview with one of the co-founders, Doug Imbruce, here.