What is the best iOS WordPress app?

WordPress makes a great app for posting to your WordPress.com or self hosted site, but sometimes the official app doesn’t cut it. In my case, for some reason I’ve not been able to figure out, I cant upload photos to my website with the official app, so I had to resort to alternatives.

I will say upfront that when it works, the official iOS WordPress app is pretty much the best, but each of the following apps can replace it as long as you’re willing to make trade-offs. Some are paid, some are free, but all of them can get you posting.

I only looked at apps for iPhone. There are a number of iPad only apps, but if I’m working on a device that big, might as well open up the MacBook.

Tinydesk – free with IAP to remove post footer
wpid-20140823-112603.jpgThis app is both the best and the worst of the bunch. Its major drawbacks are that you can’t edit posts or pages once they’ve been saved to your server and it doesn’t support the iOS dictionary.

On the plus side, it is one of only two apps that let’s you insert images from your media library.

TinyDeskThe app also uses a unique method for post creation. It treats each block of text or image as a discreet block. As you create these blocks, you can drag them up and down to reorder. It is a novel approach that is pretty useful in longer form posts.

And for what it’s worth, this app is the most consistently compatible with my sites and always uploads images.

BlogPress $4.99
1408917849.jpgThis app has a distinctly odd approach to content creation. Any formatting options are hidden away and can take several screens to do things like insert a link. Switching between sites is quite easy, however a site’s pages and posts are listed separately, which feels odd at first but you quickly get used to.

wpid-20140823-112558.jpgBlogPress has an interesting approach to image and movie management. You can set up a photo or movie service to upload your assets to instead of your blog. If you want to keep your images in Flickr or Picassa, for example, this is the tool for you. You can also post to Facebook and Twitter when you post to your blog, and send posts to multiple blogs.

This app has some great features, but it is just so painful to use that I have a hard time recommending it. Although my interest is strictly in WordPress compatibility, BlogPress does get credit for having the largest list of supported platforms.

Poster
PosterPoster has a minimalist, flat, UX, which works to give you the most space available for writing, but takes some getting used to because it isn’t always obvious where the feature you’re looking for is hiding. For example, to give a post a title, you have to go into an options area, where you can also set categories, tags and the post format. It seems non-intuitive at first, but once you’re used to it, it feels natural to handle all the post set up in one screen and the composition in another.

PosterDespite it’s minimalist design, there is power hiding inside, with support for sticky posts and other features tucked away. You just have to look to find them.

Poster also has a unique feature that let’s you create posts based on templates or copy which you can store on your DropBox account or that is in the iOS clipboard. This is a pretty handy feature if you are working with existing content you want to move into WordPress or if you frequently post content that is formulaic.

UPDATE: It turns out this app was so good, Automatic, the people behind WordPress, bought the app, hired the developer, and discontinued the app. Which is a damn shame because it works when the official app doesn’t.

PressSync – Ad supported or $4.99
wpid-20140823-112747.jpgPressSync is an interesting app. Organizationally, it keeps all of your published, draft and local content separated, but mixes posts and pages together by publish status – so all your draft pages and posts are grouped together. I make extensive use of drafts and really like this feature, but it can get unwieldy if you have lots of posts and pages.

The listings of content is very informative, giving you and clear view what category and post is in, as well as any tags, and displays a thumbnail for attached media.

wpid-20140823-112754.jpgPressSync is also the only other app that gives you access to your media library, either for directly uploading media or adding media to a post. But despite showing an image thumbnail in the list of posts, it does not show images in the posts themselves.

One of PressSync’s strengths is that it gives you a LOT of control over the way it interacts with your media and content. It supports slugs and sticky posts, although that feature doesn’t seem to work with my themes. You can also specify exactly what size you want your images to uploaded at, which is nice if you are trying to match images into certain templates.
1408917837.jpgThe app also gives you control over the app itself, and allows you to toggle on and off things like auto-capitalization and spell checking.

On the down side, switching between posts and pages is cumbersome, as is accessing basic formatting, which is located in a different pane. That said, it supports a lot of HTML and markdown formatting and gives you access to frequently used formatting.
For total feature set, PressSync clobbers all the other apps, but it also gives it the highest learning curve.

Pressgram – free with IAP
wpid-20140823-112820.jpgThis app isn’t, strictly speaking, a WordPress blogging app. The best way to think about it is a photo manipulation app with a minimum feature set for photo blogging.

On the image side, either take a photo or load an image from your camera roll, crop it, apply filters or blur, and add text to it. When you’re done, you can give your post a title and add some text to it, or add another image, then upload your post to one or more services simultaneously.

wpid-20140823-112839.jpgIt is extremely convenient if you want to post an image to two blogs, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter simultaneously. It is the only photo blogging app that I’ve found that supports self hosted WordPress sites.

All the IAP are for things like filter packs and effects, not core posting functionality.

To sum up…
So which is the best one?

PressSync is the power user app. Lots of control, lots of features, and offers the most complete set of blogging tools. If you’re only going to grab one app on this list, make it this one and invest the time to learn how to use it.

Poster is probably the most straight forward WordPress app replacement. It is a bitch that Automatic cancelled it. I wish they would at least make the official app work better.

TinyDesk…if only it let you edit drafts this would be my top choice. I find myself turning to TinyDesk fairly often despite that draw back because it does the best job of uploading images.

PressGram should be on your phone regardless of what app you pick as your steady. It’s ability to quickly post images is unrivaled.

BlogPress, despite it’s massive list of supported platforms and some neat features, is just quirky enough I don’t recommend it.

Writing on Chromebook Part 2: MasterWriter

I am a Chromebook owner. Not a proud one, just an owner. I wrote a while ago about trying to do screenwriting on it and came away nonplussed. But there was a fair amount of interest in the subject and I find myself frequently trying out new tools, so I’ve decided to write about Chromebook friendly tools when I come across them.

Which leads me to something called MasterWriter. Lately I’ve been writing some poetry and have turned to my trusty thesaurus and a number of word rhyming tools to get me through my couplets. I received a promotional code for MasterWriter and decided to take it for a spin.

It’s not really a screenwriting tool, but it is a general creative writing helper with a heavy emphasis on assisting with song writing. For the purposes of my mini-review, I’m ignoring the song writing based features. The main functionality of the tool is finding the right word, be that a rhyme, synonym, or the name of a proper place or person. Most of that functionality can be had for free from a variety of websites, but MasterWriter does a pretty good job of presenting the information in a very clean, straightforward way. But what makes all that word finding useful is the ability to collect and add words to your projects, be they poems, songs or anything else.

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 12.48.20 PMFor my poem writing, I’d being using a spreadsheet (yeah, I know, the irony) to compose, collect words, and count syllables. It works, but it’s not the greatest tool set and you have to jump through a few hoops to make it work across laptops and mobile devices. MasterWriter is fully cross platform via browser, but you do need an internet connection. You can have as many projects (in my case poems) as you want and each project gets it’s own bank of words.

Overall, I really liked MasterWriter’s interface and toolset. The word hunting tools are the best I’ve used across any website or app. But MasterWriter doesn’t come cheap. Monthly plans are $9.95 with discounts for annual buys. Considering I will be lucky to make $10 off of my poems, I have a hard time coughing up a credit card for this particular service. But if you have the money and want a great multi-platform tool finding just the right word, it’s worth checking out MasterWriter’s free trial.Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 12.46.43 PM

Elvis Sightings Synopsis

Elvis Sightings Cover

Elvis Sightings

I’m Floyd—no last name needed, thanks—and I’m a P.I. The only other thing you need to know about me is that I’m not an Elvis impersonator. I live my life fast and hard and yes, in sequined jumpsuits, but more importantly I live my life the way Elvis would have wanted me to. Honestly. With integrity.

It was a tip that the King was still alive and living under an assumed name that brought me to Kresge, Wyoming. But there’s something bigger than Elvis happening out here. I’ve been beaten bloody by an acrobatic bartender, roped into the search for a missing councilman, fallen for a bearded lady, and threatened by men in black who really don’t want me poking my nose into the town’s business. Half of my leads look like dead celebrities. The other half are either refugees from a broken-down circus or spear-holding Viking wannabes.

I’m in Crazytown, USA, but I can’t leave. Not yet. If I don’t find the missing councilman soon, Kresge will be turned into a Danish-themed amusement park. I’ve never been so close to finding Elvis. And I need to know if my new self-appointed sidekick James Morrison is really who he claims to be…