Qwiki Hits the iPad

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the built-in Google Maps feels smooth and natural on a touchscreen—so much so that it’s hard to go back to the Web version.

In fact, Qwiki now feels like it was conceived for the iPad, which is a tribute to Greg Pape, the Qwiki iOS engineer who built the app. I met Pape at the Qwiki party, and he confessed to being a bit of a map junkie. As soon as he’d finished the app, he says, he spent half a day simply browsing the world map to see what Qwikis existed for obscure places like the islands off Antarctica.

At the moment, the three million Qwikis in the company’s growing database correspond closely to the contents of Wikipedia, which is also the source of text narrated by the computer voice. But the grand vision for Qwiki, according to CEO and co-founder Doug Imbruce, is to make the service into something like the Daily Me: the future digital newspaper that, in a vision laid out in the mid-1990s by MIT Media lab founder Nicholas Negroponte, would be full of personalized content and would anticipate an individual reader’s needs and interests.

The iPad app moves in that direction by making Qwiki’s content accessible on a new platform, and by adding an awareness of the user’s current location to the mix. “The app is the first step toward fulfilling the company’s vision of creating a consistent information experience across multiple platforms,” Imbruce said in the company’s announcement today.

Qwiki, which was co-founded by Imbruce, AltaVista creator Louis Monier, and actor Gregory Smith, relocated from Palo Alto to a 6,000-square-foot warehouse space on Bryant Street in March, shortly after obtaining $8 million in Series A financing. In addition to Saverin, the company has won backing from individual investors Jawed Karim and Pradeep Sindhu and institutional investors Lerer Media Ventures, Tugboat Ventures, Contour Venture Partners, and Lightbank.

Here’s a video on Qwiki for iPad, produced by the company.

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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