Reading is so 20th century. What today’s world needs is a way to convert all those boring squiggles and scratches into easily digestible vowels, consonants and pictures. Qwiki takes the user-generated encyclopedia Wikipedia and turns it into an mini TV show with narration and a slideshow of zooming images.
It’s just like something you might see on BBC2 late at night, except with a lady robot doing the voiceover instead of Dawn French.
You can start by browsing the Qwiki of the day or search for any topic found on Wikipedia. Within seconds, the app launches into your very own documentary. As well as picking out photos and text from the relevant Wikipedia page, Qwiki embeds animated maps, interactive timelines and videos (you can easily click through to watch them in their entirety).
A Q+ button opens up a scrolling page of related Qwikis and links out to searches on YouTube, Google and Fotopedia. You can also rate each Qwiki or share them on email, Facebook and Twitter.
Once you get over its sci-fi buzz, Qwiki can feel like a doorway to a virtually infinite universe of rather dull documentaries – the History Channel without ads, perhaps.
But for those moments when you just want to check a fact, see a photo or listen to a canned voice mutilating awkward place names, it’s a thoroughly modern essential.