Inquire is a context-aware Wikipedia reader for smartphones. Using your current location, trending topics, and your interests to curate relevant content, the app lets you discover and learn the history of the places and structures around you, wherever you go. Inquire costs $0.99.
Inquire is essentially a cross between Google Maps and Wikipedia, which is the perfect mashup for wanderers who ask a lot of questions. As a lover of both traveling and long walks, I found this app to be extremely useful and fun. Upon opening the app, your location is pinpointed and dozens of little bubbles pop up around you, indicating interesting things to learn about in your vicinity. I was able to search landmarks in the surrounding area and discover the stories behind old buildings I walk past every morning. Thanks to Inquire, I learned more about the history of my neighborhood in a single hour than I had in the previous year.
Besides allowing you to be a tourist in your own town, Inquire allows you to peruse articles on important historical and cultural sites in other cities by searching other locations across the globe. Whether you’re in a new place or thinking about visiting one, Inquire provides an easy, intuitive resource for orienting yourself.
One kink that should be worked out on Inquire is in relation to language. When exploring places in other countries, articles are sometimes available in English and sometimes not. Making content available across the world in a variety of languages is an undertaking, but allowing users the ability to read translated articles would be a good next step for Inquire to increase its accessibility.
The Popular Today feature on Inquire feels a bit out of place, and was my least favorite part of this app. In this section, you can see what other users have searched for on Wikipedia lately, the thought being that doing so will alert you to trends in the present while learning about the past. However, a lot of the most popular searches were random, and not particularly indicative of relevant, newsworthy themes. Case in point: the most searched topic this month was "tunnels".
This is an app that I’m keeping on my phone and plan to use when traveling or exploring new places in my own city. Whether you’re looking for a fun fact or a new Wikipedia rabbit hole to go down, Inquire is an effective, comprehensive learning tool.Image: by Justin Main via Unsplash with modification by Melanie Hering