If I were attempting to mobile blog using Apple devices a year ago, I would have needed to bring my laptop, camera and other devices. If, however, I work trying to keep things to a minimum and use only mobile devices I still would have needed the following – my iPad, my Canon G11 camera, the SD card adapter for the iPad and… Judie.
The Canon G11 was necessary because while the iPhone 4S had a good camera it didn’t have a GREAT camera. We strive to have large, bright, clear pictures here on the site and that required something of the caliber of the Canon G11. In fact, when I first started with the site, my pictures were so bad that Judie sent me her old Canon G9. It was a lovely gesture but, looking back, I realized that it was also her way of making the statement “Your pictures stink Dan. Get with the program.” I would take the pictures I needed using the camera, pull out the SD card, plug the adapter into my iPad, slide the SD card into that and import the pictures onto the iPad. From there I would crop those pictures and attempt to add a watermark. As you can imagine, it was not always an easy process.
Then I would use the WordPress iOS application to write the basic text of the post and to input the pictures into it. From there I would upload the draft, send a link to Judie, and ask her to do the following – clean up the language, center the pictures because they were always adjusted left, add a featured image, and input all of the necessary tags because the app made inputting tags a pain in the neck. There were even times when I would be so frustrated with the WordPress app that I would send the text and photos to Judie via email, and I’d ask her to do the post. This worked well enough, but it was still a pain and required at least two of us in order to get a decent, clean post up on the site.
That was then… this is now.
These days all I need in order to blog on the go is my iPhone and my iPad, and I can even get away without having one or the other if need be. That is because both the hardware AND the apps have improved to the point where mobile blogging is simple, fast and, if need be, a complete process from start to posted. The workflow now it looks like this.
I take whatever pictures I need using the iPhone. Yes, the camera on the iPhone is so good that it gets the level of quality that we are looking for on the site. I can use the iPhone on its own but in order to make it even easier to get good pictures I use Belkin’s LiveAction Grip camera adapter.
The $49.99 iPhone accessory works with the free LiveAction app and, among other things, creates a great handle for the camera that gives me a shutter button exactly where it would be were I using something like the Canon G11. (A small limitation of the app is the fact that, because of Apple’s limitations, one needs to then choose the images one took with the LiveAction application and save them to the photo album, but it is certainly easier than pulling out the memory card in the adapter and going that route.
Speaking of the SD card adapter, I don’t need to have it with me any longer thanks to iCloud. Yes, PhotoStream means that anything I take with the iPhone is on my iPad almost immediately. From there I crop the pictures taken with the iPhone, and then I add a watermark using the application iWatermark. And if I want to do something more with the images, there are any number of apps that are quite powerful for image editing and play.
That takes care of the image part of blogging, but what about the actual process of writing a post on the go? That’s been made easier by a few advances over the last few months. The first is the global voice recognition on the new iPad. It means that I’m able to write the first draft of a post on the go, without having to worry about laying the iPad down and having a good typing surface, which is exactly what I did here. In addition, because I can speak far more quickly than I can type, I’m able to get a lot more on the screen rapidly by using my voice, then I can using the on-screen keyboard.
At the same time, because of the speed advances with the new iPad the on-screen keyboard is better than ever. Sometimes, I will write directly in the blogging app (more on that in a moment), but usually I use the Note.app that comes with both the iPhone and iPad. I do so because, again thanks to iCloud, I can write on any of my Apple devices and have the same text everywhere. That means I can start on my iPhone, continue on my Mac and finish on the iPad. (Or any other order you can think of…)
If I want to type rather than dictate, but I don’t want to use the on-screen keyboard, I can use. It jus came for review today, but I can already say with certainty that this $99.99 case/keyboard combination finally nails it and creates something that is truly usable. The keyboard is excellent, the case is nice and has a built-in stand AND the Bluetooth keyboard can be removed from the case and positioned exactly where is most comfortable.
Oh, and the keyboard actually works!! I’m using it as I write this, and I am finding that, for once, I can type as quickly as I normally do on a full-size keyboard. Yes, it is a nice case in and of itself and it offers probably the best Bluetooth keyboard I’ve seen for the iPad. So between dictating, a better onscreen keyboard and Belkin’s keyboard/case, writing a fairly long post on the iPad is a simple and doable prospect.
But dictating or typing isn’t the end of the story. I also need to have something that allows me to put the pictures and text together in a post. Sure, I can try doing so using the mobile Safari browser, but I don’t find it to be easy or intuitive. I can also go back to the old standard, the WordPress app for iOS, but it hasn’t improved in many, many months. It’s still hard to use, handles images poorly, doesn’t allow you to add a featured image, and it is in more ways that I’ve mentioned an unfinished product. Fortunately I no longer need to rely on the WordPress app for mobile blogging thanks to Blogsy.
Yes, Blogsy. It is a stupid name but an AWESOME app. It’s so awesome that all of the Gear Diary editors are now using it.
I found it difficult to move between the “what you see is what you get” and the HTML side of the posting experience, each is handy for its own purposes and moving from one to the other would often crash the app or have some other weird thing arrives, and the app crashed constantly.
Improvements in the app, as well as the increased speed of the new iPad, seem to combine to make this a far less often occurs. Yes, the app will crash at times but not nearly as often; I have yet to lose work that was in progress, so it really doesn’t bother me all that much.
The $4.99 Blogsy application makes writing simple; the formatting window makes playing with the text relatively easy, and the app makes adding links to a post a breeze.
A pop-up window allows you to add tags and categories, and a recent update even added the ability to put in a featured image. Granted, it required Judie to do something on the server-side of things, but now it works beautifully. The app even allows you to upload numerous images at the same time from both your photo application and your photo stream.
But there is even more that I like, with regard to image-handling. Blogsy makes the proper placement of the photos so easy that, when combined with all the other aspects of the app, I am able to send a post to the server as “pending” in as close to “finished post format” as anything I could do on my Mac. And if need be, I am also able to simply post directly from the app. That was NEVER possible in the past unless I wanted to have posts go live with formatting errors or missing information.
The result of all of this is the fact that true mobile blogging is now a reality. I’m able to take pictures, manipulate them, crop them, add a watermark, write my text, add the images, and add all the additional information necessary for a post in just minutes … and it doesn’t matter where I am. In fact, I’m using it with my temple blog as well, and when I received three images and a paragraph of text the other evening I was able to have that post up on the site with in five minutes. That’s how good mobile blogging is in 2012 thanks to the iPad and Blogsy and a few key accessories. The only thing that hasn’t changed is that Judie still needs to go over my posts one last time for grammar and other bloopers.
Are you finding certain tasks becoming easier and easier as the iPad and the apps that work with it improve? Let us know in the comments.Oh, and if you were wondering, this entire post was written using voice, the Belkin keyboard case, Blogsy and the iPad.