The iPad is a great media consumption and gaming device. There’s nothing else like it. But theÂ Holy Grail for serious iPad users is genuine productivity. And I don’t think anyone’s arrived there quite yet.
Apple’s own iLife suite for iPad offers some great tools for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. Tumblr and WordPress both have free iPad apps that are supposed to make it easy for users to post new articles to their blogs, yet both are missing some of the functions and elegance that make great apps stand out. Bloggers keep waiting and hoping that that great iPad blogging app will come along and make it easy, intuitive, and enjoyable to post articles from their tablet.
Enter Blogsy, the first real contender for the “iPad Blogger” throne. For now it works only with WordPress and Blogger, but more platforms are on the way. Blogsy brings a lot of really smart ideas to the iPad blogging, and the things it does well, it does extremely well. The interface is a lovely visual model that uses drag-and-drop simplicity, and the app offers seamless integration with Flickr, Picasa, and YouTube.Â I particularly like the image upload interface, represented by an open envelope where you drag-and-drop the graphics you want to send to your blog from your device’s Photo gallery.
For text and formatting, Blogsy offers two views: rich text and HTML, and you switch between them with a sideways swipe of your finger. HTML is the only one where you can actually type; this took me a while to get my head around, since it’s so different to the way that most blogging software works. In rich text mode, you can do all the visual formatting you want — add bold, italics, links, and so forth. But you still can’t type. For someone who edits and tweaks a lot as he’s re-reading a draft, having to switch back and forth this way feels very counter-intuitive. These dual modes are meant to give you full control over the blogging process, but I found myself sticking to HTML mode and foregoing rich text altogether due to the hassle of switching.
Menus across the top and the right side of the screen give you access to every function Blogsy offers. Individual pop-up menus give you finer control over things like tags, categories, comments, and more. Through these various controls, you can access pretty much every setting that you’re used to in WordPress and Blogger; it’s simply a matter of finding those options and getting used to their locations. I caught on pretty quick, and appreciated the exhaustive feature set.
For purposes of this review, I wrote and posted a blog article using Blogsy. And as robust and enjoyable as the process was, I did notice some odd quirks. There doesn’t seem to be an automatic way of formatting a full list, for example. In WordPress or Blogger, you can highlight a block of text and click the list button to have it convert the text into a list for you, breaking apart the lines and inserting bullets or numbers at the appropriate places. This same process doesn’t work in Blogsy — not in either editing mode. The only way I could make a list at all was to highlight every line — representing a single entry on the list — one at a time, and click on the list button for each one.
You also can’t access your blog’s entire media library from within Blogsy. Instead, only images that have been uploaded from inside the app are available for use. So if youÂ want to use/embed a photo or graphic, you’ll have to make sure that that image is in your iPad’s photo gallery before you begin, though if you’re working exclusively on your iPad, this shouldn’t be an issue.
The mistake that many iPad productivity apps make is trying to mimic everything that laptops and desktops do. The iPad is not like a keyboarded device; it has completely different strengths and weaknesses. The best apps play to the iPad’s strengths, taking advantage of the touchscreen interface in ways that traditional computers can’t. iFontMaker, for example, brilliantly leverages the touchscreen’s capabilities to allow users to create fonts in a much easier way than has ever been possible on a computer.
Blogsy doesn’t quite manage to achieve that magical combination — at least not yet. There are too many missing pieces to the puzzle to call it that perfect blogging app. But it certainly has a head start on the competition. It’s stable, it’s easy to use (despite its modest learning curve), and it gets so many things right. If it continues to be updated regularly with new and better features (and I’m sure it will be — there’s a major update in the pipeline at the time of this writing), I have no doubt that it will be king of the hill very, very soon.