This is the first in a series of blogposts on mobile blogging with WordPress.
Mobile blogging (or moblogging, a corruption which I hate and won’t use!) is the act of writing and managing blog posts via a mobile device. The mobile device might be a smartphone (iPhone, Android, Nokia or Blackberry all have apps for WordPress) or a device such as an iPod Touch or an iPad. These devices could be connected to the web via wireless or 3G (mobile phone) networks. The main difference between mobile blogging and using standard WordPress (which you can still do on any of these devices if they have a web connection) is that you are using a specially developed WordPress app to write and manage your blog instead of the familiar WordPress dashboard.
In this series I will look at the mechanics of blogging on a mobile device; consider the advantages and disadvantages; and examine one or two case studies of these devices in use.
There are two main reasons for using the WordPress app (which is free) instead of the standard WordPress dashboard. The first is that the highly restricted screensize on smartphones makes it hard to use the standard WordPress dashboard and so a specially designed app makes sense to optimise the user experience, taking advantage of the touchscreen features of these devices as well. The second reason is that the WordPress app allows you to work offline when you are out of range of your wireless network, or where there is no phone signal. Thus, you can write a blogpost, save it as a “local draft” i.e. on the device itself and publish it on your blog later when you have a connection again.
Limitations in Education
I can only write about the iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad apps for WordPress as I don’t have an Android, or Blackberry device. I hope that what I write holds good for those platforms too, but would welcome any feedback from owners of these phones highlighting any differences in the way they work with WordPress.
The main limitation in using mobile devices is that they are designed as personal devices rather than for devices which are meant to be shared amongst lots of users (as a PC in school would be – kept secure by separate logins). In practice this means that when you add a blog to the WordPress app, you also add the login credentials to that blog. These login credentials are retained on the device and the owner does not need to add them when accessing a blog. Therefore, you should not mix class blogs with personal blogs or administrator logins on the same device as any user with access to the device can use any of the blogs presented.
The other limitation for users is the necessity to regularly “sync” the device with iTunes in order to make sure that you have the latest version of the app. In recent weeks, WordPress have released a number of new versions of the iPhone app for WordPress, one of which, by their own admission, was quite unstable. Subsequent releases have sorted out most of the issues, but it’s pretty essential to have the latest version.
In order to download the iPhone app for WordPress you need to have an Apple iTunes Store account. Visit the iTunes App Store, search for WordPress and download the free app. You’re good to go.
The next post in the series will examine how you set up blogs on your device; how to set the options correctly on your blog to accept posts from mobile devices (it’s very simple); and look at potential connectivity problems that you might have.