Bloggers used to be a rare breed of people. Blogging required a little bit of creativity. Not anybody could just sign up for a blog and start writing. Blogging on the go started to become more popular when laptops became available, but until wireless connectivity became ubiquitous, bloggers only converged at Internet Cafés and major events. But add netbooks and widespread Wi-Fi, and you have instantly more bloggers.
But this article is not about bloggers. No, this is an article about what came after the netbooks and Wi-Fi. If you have a WordPress blog, a smartphone, and a mobile data plan, it’s easier than ever to blog. Just download the WordPress application from the Android Market and you’re ready to go.
WordPress for Android is available for free on the Android Market, and runs on devices with Gingerbread or higher. I’ll be focusing on the handset version in this review.
When you start the application for the first time it will ask you what type of blog you have:
If you don’t have either kind, you can sign up to WordPress.com straight from the application.
Once you’ve set up everything you’ll be taken to the Dashboard. Here you can do a variety of actions:
- Add a new post, a new page, a quick photo or a quick video
- View your posts, pages, comments and stats
- Edit your settings
- Read other blogs that you are subscribed to via WordPress
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s more to it than meets the eye.
I already had a WordPress blog before I joined the Android.AppStorm team, and even I didn’t know that WordPress had so many features. For instance, I didn’t know you can set a future publish date for a post.
The New Post view is the most important view of the application, for obvious reasons: it’s where you add new content to your blog. Here you can edit the post’s title, tags and categories, add a location, and edit the aforementioned publish date for the post. This comes in handy when you have an awesome idea at 3 A.M. and you don’t want your readers to know that you are a night owl.
Another feature that deserves special attention is the formatting options when you edit your post content. Bold, italic, underlined, and
strikethrough options are available. You can also add links, quotes, and the very important “more” tag.
This is much like the New Post screen, but for Pages. Generally pages are useful when you want to give your readers additional information about yourself, contact details, FAQ’s and such. These are pinned at the top of your blog.
You can see a list of all the posts and pages of your blog via the Posts and Pages screens.
Quick Photo and Quick Video
This opens the Camera application and lets you take a photo (or video) and add it directly to a new post, so you can give quick thoughts about something that just happened.
In this screen you can view all of the comments made on your blog. You can see which post they were made on, and approve them, mark them as spam or delete them. There’s also a checkbox on the right hand side of each comment so you can select multiple comments at a time and apply the same action to all of them.
In the Settings view you can change your account username and password – note that this means logging in to a different account, rather than modifying your existing account. You can’t change your password from the mobile application, but you can change it in the Your Profile page on the web.
You can also change the way your images are uploaded: either keep their original width and height, or change the width to a pre-set value between 100 to 1000. Of course, the apps will also change the height to keep the same aspect ratio. This is helpful for anyone on a limited data plan.
Remember when I said that you could add a location to your post? Here you can enable it to be added by default when you start a new post.
This one’s for all of you who are obsessed with numbers. You can see your blog views for the past month, week, quarter, year, or all the way back from the day you launched your blog.
If you hit the Menu button in the dashboard you’ll see a Preferences option. Here you can enable push notifications to learn when someone comments on your blog. You can also set the time interval and add a tagline signature to your posts.
So far WordPress for Android is a great application. The posting system is very well polished and I found no major problems. The only drawback is that when you choose a category for your post, you’re not presented with a tree like the desktop version. This may be because of the small screen of my device, but I’m sure it can be implemented somehow. I don’t think a small indent would hurt.
Another screen that behaves strangely is the Stats view. If you want to change what stats you want to see (e.g. switch from views to post views), the application throws a random Java error. Fortunately error handling is implemented properly and the application doesn’t crash – it just won’t load the stats.
Other than these problems, the application is fairly stable and works without a hitch.
What can I say? WordPress for Android is the next step for bloggers, and helps them blog from virtually anywhere they have a 3G signal. The interface is very well designed and the formatting options come in handy. Overall I give it a perfect score of 10.
The problems with categories are irritating but not a problem; that stats bug, however, is a real problem. Granted, you won’t manage your whole blog from a mobile device, but this should be fixed. However, I didn’t lower the score because I feel that this application’s focus should be on posting, and it does a great job in that respect.