A few months ago, just after the upgraded iPhone operating system was announced, I speculated on whether iPhone OS 3.0 would make the iPhone a better blogging platform, basing my article purely on the specifications Apple provided.
Now that iPhone 3.0 has arrived, here are my initial thoughts on whether the iPhone is good for performing a variety of common blogging/social media tasks.
A number of applications already exist to integrate with popular blogging platforms such as WordPress and Movable Type, and it’s possible to access most admin panels via the Safari web browser.
The main improvement here is the ability to use the landscape keyboard in more applications, though it should be noted that a number of third-party apps already offered this functionality.
Those blogging via email (where a blog can be updated by sending email to a private address) will likely find landscape mode in Mail improves their typing speed and accuracy.
The ability to cut and paste text from web pages and other applications such as the notepad is useful for those who quote other people, though it can still become tedious to do this task because, if you’re following web etiquette and attributing your sources, you first have to copy the text from Safari, go back to your blog app, email message or other Safari tab, paste that text, then return and copy the URL of the original web page to create the link.
Those creating large link lists will likely find this extremely irritating, unless an app exists that can speed up this process (if it does I haven’t seen it).
So, those relying predominantly on text are better catered for thanks to copy/paste and the landscape keyboard, but unfortunately image processing is still far from ideal.
Because iPhone 3.0 is so new, not all third party blogging applications will support direct pasting of a copied image from a web page.
The only other options for importing images into blog posts is to take a photo directly with the iPhone’s camera or add one from the photo library. It works, particularly if you’re liveblogging or using images of your current surroundings, but makes it difficult if you need to edit images first.
Video bloggers who have bought the iPhone 3G S should soon be able to upload videos to supported services, though we’ll have to wait for developers to update their apps to allow this.
Moderation and Admin
I’ve found the iPhone is most useful for those little administrative jobs that need doing, such as moderating comments, deleting spam, quick fixing typos and other non-network intensive tasks.
Nothing particularly outstanding has been added to help with this, except features that have already been mentioned such as the landscape keyboard and copy/paste functionality.
The iPhone is already well served by Twitter applications, and solutions exist for other services.
I’ve not yet seen any of the Twitter apps updated to allow push notification of new tweets. I expect it will happen, and this alone will make staying in touch very useful.
Apple’s built-in voice recorder is a bit of a letdown. It does the job but is very basic in comparison to some third party apps such as Griffin’s iTalk.
Nevertheless, if you don’t want to use something else, the built-in app will capture live audio and let you upload it to your computer for subsequent processing.
Room for improvement
Here are some additional features that could make the iPhone even better for blogging tasks:
- Multi-clipboard: The ability to store and retrieve more than one text block/image at a time would aid in quoting and source attribution amongst other tasks.
- Hardware keyboard: Now that Apple has allowed third-party hardware development, an add-on QWERTY keyboard would allow much faster entry of text. It could either plug directly into the dock or possibly work via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Could include a built-in stand.
- Access to file system: Adding images from the photo library in dedicated blog apps works, but it would be useful to be able to insert images directly into blog posts when using a blog platform’s web interface via Safari.
- Instant Messaging: Meebo was due to be released as a native app for the iPhone, but it doesn’t appear to have made it into the first 3.0 release. Though it is available for the iPhone, making it native would likely afford it more system privileges.
- Application switching: Even if Apple won’t allow more than one third-party app to run at once, some tasks would be so much easier if you could quickly switch between recent applications (Mail, Safari and WordPress app for example) without having to navigate in and out of the home screen.
The iPhone still isn’t the greatest mobile blogging platform available. It’s great for microblogging, blog admin and quick posts including live photos. Other tasks take a bit more work – good in an emergency but you probably wouldn’t want to rely on it long-term.
That said, it’s a mobile phone and pretty amazing when you consider just what you can achieve on it.