The iPhone does not lack for strong mobile Wikipedia viewers. Before I was asked to review the Handy Wiki, I had been using Wikipanion without complaint, and that was one of first handful of apps I remember even getting for the iPhone.
Seeing as how both Wikipanion and Handy Wiki are free, Handy Wiki was going to have to pull out something special to supplant my Wiki favorite, and you know what? It almost did.
On first glance, it has a more immediately friendly layout than Wikipanion. The best feature of either of the two might be the pop-up table of contents that pops up on each Wiki entry. With this sleek navigational box, you can easily zoom to any part of the article you want to. Wikipanion does have a separate page that accomplishes the same thing, but Handy Wiki takes the idea and makes it ever-so-slightly more stylish and intuitive.
Another plus from Handy Wiki is the way it archives your searches like the index of an iPod. As soon as you view an entry, it is placed into an alphabetical table of contents, so you can build up your very own encyclopedia. Privacy hounds will be happy to know they can remove any previously searched entry they like as well.
As much as it seems like there isn’t much more you could ask for from a mobile Wikipedia app, there is one key feature missing from Handy Wiki that will keep me coming back to Wikipanion -- the extras. Wikipanion’s section for related searches may seem like a small addition, but as someone who loves to jump from entry to entry when browsing Wikipedia’s actual Web page, that extra button makes a whole lot of difference.
The impressive nature of both Wikipedia apps does make for a bit of stalemate, but I honestly wouldn’t steer anyone away from either one. Both perform the basic functions of search extremely well, each has their own little features to discover, and Handy Wiki, even arriving a bit later to the game, is every bit the mobile Wiki app anyone could ask for.