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WordPress app (for iPad)
Ease of use
WordPress app review verdict
Great for checking stats and comments, but it’s sorely lacking in features when it comes to writing posts
- Clean layout when writing
- Presents site stats clearly
- Perfect for triaging comments
- No support for Gutenberg editor, plugins or theme options
- Erratic performance
- Previews rarely show the true state of the blog post
The iPad Pro often replaces my laptop when I’m travelling and don’t want to lug my laptop and its charger with me. But, as with most things iPad Pro, tapping out blog posts using the WordPress app for iOS is not quite as easy as it is with my full-blown Windows laptop. So, if you’re considering an iPad Pro for blogging purposes, here are the pros and cons of writing WordPress posts on an iPad Pro.
WordPress app – where have the blocks and plugins gone?
The first thing you’ll notice about the WordPress app for iOS is that you’ve been thrown back into the old-school editor. The content ‘blocks’ that are the hallmark of WordPress 5 and its so-called Gutenberg editor are absent.
That means, for example, that you can’t easily nudge a photo down by a paragraph or use any custom blocks that you might have created in your regular WordPress CMS. It’s a stripped-back writing experience.
On that note, you can forget about plugins too. On BigTechQuestion, for instance, we use the Yoast SEO plugin to make sure our posts are optimised for Google. In the absence of Yoast, or any other plugin, it’s impossible to change the search headline, snippet and perform basic SEO checks.
Likewise, we have an Unsplash plugin that allows us to insert photos from a royalty-free photo library that is also out of bounds.
This lack of plugins makes it very difficult to publish a new post directly from the iPad app, because so many of the features we depend upon for day-to-day posts are absent.
When it comes to formatting your posts, most of the basic options are there. A toolbar at the bottom of the screen lets you select from different weights of headline, as well as offering other basics such as Bold, Italics, Underline and Strikethrough. You can add a divider and insert a ‘read more’ page break. And you can create hyperlinked text fairly easily.
The </> icon at the bottom of the screen allows you to enter HTML mode for those who are comfortable tapping code directly into the editor.
Inserting pictures stored on your device is dead simple. Just tap the + icon in the bottom left of the screen and it brings up thumbnails of images found on the iPad. Once they’ve uploaded into the CMS you can change the alignment of the image, write captions and so forth by clicking Edit when you press on the photo.
In theory, you also get access to your WordPress media library, although this feature can be erratic. The first couple of times we tried to use it, we ended up gawping at this rather unhelpful screen.
However, it seemed to find its way on subsequent visits.
Which self-respecting tech site doesn’t have pics of Vanessa Feltz in its library?
If you’ve got video stored on your iPad, the WordPress app seems perfectly happy to upload that too. Enjoy this serene summer scene with our compliments.
That’s about it when it comes to formatting, however. If your WordPress theme has a selection of different post layouts that you can choose from, you can’t access them from within the app. That’s something you’ll have to apply later.
Publishing your post
So, you’ve banged out your blog post and you’re ready for the world to have a look and leave snarky comments. What are your options?
If you click the Menu in the top-right corner you can either save as draft or publish right away. You can also preview the post, although this again behaves erratically. On occasions, images are missing entirely. On others, the text is randomly bold. It’s really not that helpful.
The majority of settings you’ll want to fiddle with pre-publication are under Post Settings, where you’ll find the options to select categories, add tags, select a featured image and edit the slug and excerpt.
You’ll note the option there to Stick Post To Front Page, which is handy if your theme supports this. However, advanced homepage options are once again absent.
That fancy box at the top of our homepage, for example, has a box in the CMS that allows us to pick which articles we want to appear here. That’s not available from within the WordPress app.
How do you solve all the problems with the WordPress app in an instant?
Don’t use it. Instead, use a web browser on your iPad to access the full CMS in exactly the same way you would on a Windows PC and a Mac.
You’ll be given the full-fat WordPress experience. The full WordPress 5 editor with blocks, plugins, all the formatting options, the whole shebang.
The full-blown editor can feel a little cramped on an iPad Pro screen (I have the 9.7in iPad Pro, the 12in will obviously be more spacious), but it’s fine to work in.
WordPress app review verdict – take it or leave it?
If you want a simplified editor where you can just bash out the text for a blog post and polish it later, writing blog posts using the WordPress app is fine. It’s certainly less cluttered than the full CMS.
That said, I would never put a post live straight from the WordPress app – there are too many features missing for all but the most casual blogger.
That’s not to say the WordPress app doesn’t have it uses. It’s great for keeping on top of your Jetpack site stats, for moderating comments and for reading posts from others that you follow on WordPress. Just don’t rely on it for writing posts.
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