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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Mobilize!

If you have a smartphone, or a tablet, or both, there's no need to be chained to your computer for blogging any more. Have you explored some of the ways you can read and write while you're out and about? For my Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge, I thought we'd look at a few mobile apps that can benefit your blogging.

(I was going to discuss reading apps here too, but the post was getting so long that the mini-challenge would have been reading it all the way through! But I won't waste all that research; I'll post about those in a few days.)

Mobile Blogging

If you have Facebook and Twitter accounts, their apps were probably among the very first you installed on your mobile device--they're essentials. Although status updates aren't proper "blogging", the apps do let you share posts you read and get ideas for posts of your own. (There are other apps that let you manage your FB and Twitter feeds--sometimes together--but since I've been pretty satisfied with the official ones, I've only dabbled with those and can't say much about them.)

Evernote is another must-have app--very useful for blogging prep, and it works pretty much everywhere (including BlackBerry devices). It saves links and web clippings, and lets you create new notes via typing, photos, or audio recording. (I use it for my shopping lists, too.)

One thing that's not essential for mobile blogging is a camera app--but it can be very nice to have one. If you take a lot of photos with your mobile and want to include them in blog posts, it's good to be able to edit them a little right on your device before you bring them into your blog draft. Instagram (iOS, coming for Android--and free) and Hipstamatic (iOS) both have their fans, but my personal favorite is Camera+ on my iPhone--it has a very impressive set of tools. It's not a freebie, but it's more than worth the 99 cents.


It's easy to share photos from camera and social-media apps, but what if you want to save them for your blog...and maybe even add some words?

If you blog on WordPress, you're in luck--it's got mobile apps for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone platforms, plus Nokia phones and tablets using WebOS. Blogger users don't have it quite so good, I'm sorry to say--its mobile app is only available for Android and iOS phones, and not optimized for tablets like the iPad. Tumblr has apps for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry; I deleted my Tumblr a few weeks ago, but I have used the iPhone app, and it's very streamlined and user-friendly--not much different from the desktop experience, really.

But maybe you don't use any of those platforms...or you use several, but don't want several apps. There are some apps out there that work with a variety of blogging platforms. I've experimented with a few of them, but the one I keep returning to is BlogPress, which supports just about every major blogging service--thanks to Kristen Howerton for making me aware of it!

BlogPress doesn't have the "compose" mode, so it takes a little getting used to the appearance of posts when you work in it; having said that, the HTML editor is very easy to use. If you have online access while you're on mobile, you can sync with your blog and edit drafts you saved from your computer, and you can save posts you start on the mobile as online drafts. BlogPress is for iPhone and iPad only--if you know of similar apps for other devices, tell us about them in the comments!

And now for your Mini-Challenge, should you choose to accept it! it's actually not all that challenging, but it has to be done during Bloggiesta weekend.
  • Create a blog post on a mobile device--photo, text, or mix. The content is up to you.
  • Post to your blog from the device (Tumblr blogs count, Facebook and Twitter don't!)
  • Leave the link to your mobile post in the InLinkz below (not in the comments!). Links will be accepted through Monday, April 2.
And to encourage mobility, one random challenge participant will receive a $10 iTunes/App Store gift card or e-gift card! I'll draw a winner next week. (I wanted to make this a nonpartisan prize and offer an App Store or Google Play/Android gift, but I can't figure out how to "gift" Android apps!)