Review: WordPress for iOS stands out for bloggers on the go
At a Glance
If you run a WordPress blog—as millions of people do—the platform’s Web-based management is thorough and easy to use. However, if you want to post to your blog from an iPad or iPhone, using a browser to do so can be a bit cramped. Instead, turn to the WordPress app from Automattic. A recent update has given this free app a clean and functional interface for accessing your blog.
WordPress for iOS works with both all sizes of iOS device—the iPhone, the iPad, and even (with version 3.1.4) the iPhone 5. While the app doesn’t provide optimized access to all of WordPress’s features, it’s sufficient for most uses, whether for managing blogs and comments, or writing and updating posts. It works with blogs hosted on WordPress.com as well as self-hosted WordPress blogs, as long as you have turned on XML-RPC services (from Settings -> Writing on your WordPress dashboard). You can even create a WordPress.com blog from the app, and follow any WordPress.com blogs from it as well.
The WordPress app features a sidebar with links to posts, pages, comments, stats, and the WordPress dashboard; it also lets you view the site as it appears in a browser. Tap on Posts, for example, to see a list of posts on your blog, then tap on a post to edit it, or on the plus button (+) to create a new post. If you’re familiar with the WordPress dashboard, you’ll find this mobile interface similar.
You type your post in a text field, you can choose tags and categories from fields that—when tapped—display all those you have defined on the blog, and you can upload pictures or videos. (You can even take pictures on the spot and add them to posts.) Some of the options are more limited than with the Web-based version of WordPress, and if you use any plug-ins to help you create or edit posts, you won’t have access to them here. For the majority of blogs, though this app will be sufficient.
One notable lacuna: the WordPress app does not support custom fields, and if you have a blog that requires these, you’ll only be able to access the body field. You also can’t set custom excerpts, or set featured images.
When typing, the WordPress app adds a bar above the keyboard with some of the buttons you use to add styles: This lets you apply bold or italic, add links, set block quotes, create lists, and add a <!—more—> tag, which splits a post so only the text above the tag appears on your blog’s main page. When you’re finished creating or editing your post, you can preview it by tapping the eye button; this shows exactly how it looks in a browser.
On the iPad, as expected, there’s plenty of room to do all of this, but the iPhone is more cramped, in part because of the extra bar above the keyboard. (The iPhone 5 adds a bit of vertical space to make this easier to use.)
In addition to these posting and editing features, you can manage comments, approving, deleting, editing, and replying to them. You can view your blog’s stats, if you use the Jetpack plug-in, and you can access your blog’s dashboard. This latter feature is simply a browser page, rather than an optimized interface in the WordPress app; as such, it can be difficult to navigate on a small screen.
While you probably wouldn’t want to do all of your blogging and blog management from an iOS device, the WordPress app lets you do these tasks fairly easily. Naturally, this is much more efficient on an iPad than on an iPhone, but it’s possible with the latter. While there are some things you can’t do with this app—custom fields, custom excerpts, and featured images aren’t supported—you can still access these from the browser-based dashboard view. The WordPress app is a worthy—and free—tool for those who run blogs with this platform.