Can You Blog On the iPad?

by Bakari Chavanu Jun 04, 2010

Can you blog on the iPad? The quick and honest answer is, no. Not as effectively as you might like.

A few weeks ago I traveled to visit my mom, and while doing so I realized the limitations of the iPad for writing and blogging. Though the original intent of the iPad was never to be a laptop replacement, one would think it could be used as a productive writing tool.

While it’s expected that you can’t edit movies or create Garageband songs on the device, the inclusion of Apple‘s word processing program, Pages for the iPad, gives the impression that writing can be done on the device.



Writing Apps 
There are plenty of writing apps for the iPad, beyond Pages, which work great up to a point for text editing. Apps like SimpleNote, MyWritingNook, and even the default Notebook for the iPad can be used draft pieces of writing.



The first two above mentioned apps include a wireless web syncing feature so that all your notes and drafts are automatically saved to a server account. Pages includes that feature as well. So if you want to draft on the iPad, there’s no problem accessing that writing via the web on your desktop computer. You can also of course email text, as another way to export it.

SimpleNote and MyWritingNook also work with the text completion program, TextExpander for the iPhone and iPad. I was very surprised that this app does not have to be open in order to use it.

The abbreviations and text replacements that you input into the app will work in the background as you type in the word processing programs. It won't do it for Apple‘s Notebook or Pages applications, but for bloggers who depend on a text expansion program to get writing done, these apps are great plus for the iPad.

Wireless Keyboard
The built-in keyboard of the iPad is also not as cumbersome to use as might at first think. Typing on the iPad in landscape position can be very handy for quickly typing notes and short drafts. Though my fingers often slide off the keys, the intuitive and automatic text expansion and spelling correction feature of the iPad often aids in helping the poorest typist pound out sentences.

However, I must say that serious writing is best done using an external keyboard. Apple’s wireless keyboard is the one I use, and I found it to be the best keyboard I‘ve ever used. The keys are quick and responsive, and the keyboard‘s small size makes it perfect for the iPad.

So, yes, writing can be done, but there’s a wall of limitations for bloggers that we have to work around to write productively on the iPad.

The Wall of Limitations
If novel writing were what you wanted to do on the iPad, then you probably could get by just fine. But if the writing you do requires researching, quoting text, embedding URLs, adding images blog posts, and multitasking between apps—all of which is what bloggers do—then the iPad is going to push you back to your Mac desktop or laptop.

First off, as far as I know WordPress and BlogPress are the only two blogging client apps for the iPad. I downloaded the WordPress app and it seems to work like the web-based editor, but I couldn’t get it to upload a sample post. It reports that my blog theme can’t be retrieved. Nevertheless the potential is there for blogging using these apps, though markups and adding photos to blog entries are big problems with these apps.

Secondly, there’s the lack of multitasking in the iPad, which makes for working between apps and conducting research painfully difficult. A couple of multitasking apps might be helpful. For instance, BrowserNotes  and MyMultiView allow you to open web pages and a notepad in the same application. There’s also iAnnotate PDF for reading and annotating PDFs. But these apps only go so far. There are still improvements that Apple needs to make for its mobile devices to get the one-open app limitation.



Thirdly, a big issue for me as a blogger is the lack of a universal clipboard manager. No prolific blogger can pound out writing without a way to retrieve multiple snippets of text from the clipboard. The iPad, of course, like the iPhone, only saves one copy of text at a time. I’m not a developer, but I‘m pretty sure that Apple can include some sort of clipboard manager that can be accessed at least through Mail and word processing apps. There’s enough Mac desktop-based clipboard managers out there that Apple could easily borrow code and produce something similar for the iPad.

Without these tools, the use of the very affordable but not so futuristic iPad is a limited device for bloggers. The device says, I can deliver blogs for you to read, but if you want to write and post your own, go back where you came from.

Comments

  • Congratulations, you discovered the limitations of being an early adaptor for a device that was not designed to replace a desktop or a laptop computer. It’s really a big iPod Touch with better battery capacity.

    Flyboybob had this to say on Jun 04, 2010 Posts: 33
  • Flyboybob, I agree with you that the iPad is “a big iPod touch with better battery capacity”, but that’s precisely what I like about the device. Its larger size makes for a really nice media consumption tablet. I believe the iPad is the first gen Apple device I’ve ever purchased. I typically purchase the second or third gen devices—sometimes simply because I can’t afford the first gen anyway.

    But in the case of the iPad, I don’t feel too put out about the purchase. Sure, the price might come down in future updates, but besides having written numerous articles about the device and related apps, I really like the iPad (even with its limitations), for its portability and speed. Maybe this should be a subject of another article, because I do think in time the iPad has the potential to be a great laptop for average users.

    Bakari Chavanu had this to say on Jun 04, 2010 Posts: 47
  • There are still advantanges to a netbook and this is one of them, which is why it’s silly for Jobs to treat netbooks like a competitor.  Both can exist quite well in your computing ecosystem.

    Every time I think about opting for the iPad to replace my aging notebook, I remember that I need a device that can injest and edit my wife’s VO tracks.  So I could still use both an iPad and a netbook without overlapping too much functionality.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jun 04, 2010 Posts: 2220
  • Beeblebrox, I agree that there are advantages to a netbook. I purchased one for my daughter, but for the life of me, I can never spend more than 10 minutes on her netbook. Though the screen is larger than my iPhone, the size of the iPad screen is more comfortable to me.

    If you read my first articles about the iPad here on AppleMatters, you’d see that I recommended to readers to only purchase the base model of the iPad and/or wait until the second gen to see what type of improvements will be made.

    I think Jobs ever tried to sell the iPad as a laptop replacement. He would sound silly doing, given that he has a solid line of MacBooks and MacBook pros to sell. But as I have written in still other articles for this site, I’ve felt it was shameful that Apple hadn’t produced some sort of netbook device that would fulfill simple computing needs. I think the iPad comes close to what I and other user users were looking for, but there’s of course areas that need improving, which this latest article tries to point out.

    Thanks for your feedback. Great to have you as a regular reader of the site.

    Bakari Chavanu had this to say on Jun 04, 2010 Posts: 47
  • Apple have never sold the iPad as a replacement for a NetBook.
    They simply said that a NetBook is a cheap and limited version of a Laptop, it does nothing better than a Laptop does, and that is 100% correct.

    The iPad on the other hand is NOT trying to be a Laptop / NetBook replacement.
    Apple have sold the iPad as the best way to Surf the Internet, do your mail, consume media, etc.

    Multi-tasking is coming in the fall, free to all iPad owners.

    Parky had this to say on Jun 05, 2010 Posts: 51
  • I had a similar experience along with many of the top bloggers in the movie world at the Cannes Film Festival. See my article at http://globalfilmvillage.com/?p=2918.

    The WordPress App doesn’t work. You can not paste anything into the WordPress article widget on the desktop. There have been comments that using the HTML editor works and it might be possible to email your story to the blog although I haven’t tried that.

    The low weight of the IPad sold me as it is a royal pain to carry a laptop around a major festival when you are running to 4-5 screenings a day and squeezing in meetings and writing articles on the fly. Looking forward to multitasking as well. Also the WiFi reception is a bit dicey and sometimes you need to enter your password again and again for the same ISP you have been using for days. It just seems to forget some servers.

    Hopefully Apple, WordPress and the developer community will sort these problems out quickly. There were many Bloggers carrying both a laptop and an IPad at Cannes and none too happy about it.

    For a consumer it is a great device to get email and web surf. We just need it to do a better job allowing us professionals to get the content out to our readers.

    globalfilmvillage had this to say on Jun 07, 2010 Posts: 2
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  • They simply said that a NetBook is a cheap and limited version of a Laptop, it does nothing better than a Laptop does, and that is 100% correct.

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    Ericka Bentle had this to say on Jun 29, 2011 Posts: 64
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  • Flyboybob, I agree with you that the iPad is “a big iPod touch with better battery capacity”, but that’s precisely what I like about the device. Its larger size makes for a really nice media consumption tablet roof cleaning
    . I believe the iPad is the first gen Apple device I’ve ever purchased. I typically purchase the second or third gen devices—sometimes simply because I can’t afford the first gen anyway.

    Ericka Bentle had this to say on Jul 04, 2011 Posts: 64
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  • I personally Believe if you dont have a apple ipad you dont have phone. Nice article ..

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