Did you know that you could turn your favourite website into an offline app? And did you know this is a fairly straightforward process?

But let us first take a step back, and remember how Kiwix works:

On the one hand you have a website, almost any website, which we can convert to the openZIM format so that it works even without internet access. The key here is not so much technical than for the content to be under a free license (open-access, creative commons, etc.) so that we can actually copy and then redistribute it. There are, in fact, thousands of them out there already, starting with Wikipedia (but also TED, Stack Exchange, and other big internet names).

On the other hand there is Kiwix, the platform that reads .zim files with the same user experience as if browsing the real thing. Like, literally: the only difference is that if you try to click on a link that would take you out to another website, well it won’t work. But other than that, browsing is browsing. You can browse on your desktop, on a hotspot, on your phone. You can literally browse hundreds of websites without an internet connection.

Thing is, a lot of people do not browse on their phone as they would on their computer. As mobile browsing experience goes there is very little case to be made for bookmarks. They simply are not as convenient on mobile as they are on desktop. And so the default use case are apps. One app for each game, chat service, for weight loss, etc.. In many cases, the output is the same, but for many recurring users it simply makes more sense to have the Wikipedia (or NYT) app than keep them as mobile bookmarks.

So why should it be any different when people are offline?

It is with this in mind that we started thinking about what we call custom apps. Take Kiwix, bundle it with your content of choice and voilà, here you go with your own medical encyclopedia (based off Wikipedia) or chemistry games (based off PhET).

How do we know this is the right approach? Because there are as many people downloading these custom apps than there are people downloading the Kiwix android app (where they could presumably have all in one place). Discovery is also a lot easier, if you consider that there are millions of great apps flying under the radar.

Bottom line: expect a lot more custom apps from us. And should you have a good case for one, feel free to post a request!