Three Varied Tools for Blogging With a Hand-Held

Now, with a mobile device and the right apps, bloggers barely need to touch a conventional keypad to keep readers sated. Popular blogging services like Blogger, Tumblr and WordPress have free apps for Android and Apple, and while those apps are sometimes flawed, they’re generally good enough to download.

I found that the WordPress app (available on Apple and on Android) was the most fully featured. Whether that translates to the most helpful, though, depends on how lucky you are.

My luck wasn’t great. I composed a post on a test blog and formatted the text using all of the 10 options given. The fact that it gave me that many formatting options was impressive, given the more rudimentary approaches of other apps.

WordPress then offered me a preview of the page, and everything appeared as I’d hoped. But when I published the post through the app, all of the formatting disappeared, and I was left with a post that looked nothing like what I had intended.

A few other users of the app complained of similar problems in reviews on iTunes and Google Play, but a far bigger number gave it high marks.

Also, WordPress suggests you can upload video. You can, if you also download the VideoPress app and pay $60 a year for video service.

Following that logic, I could also add voice-overs from George Clooney to my blog if I had a few million dollars to pay him. Saying it’s possible doesn’t make it a feature.

WordPress deserves credit for including a number of real features that will appeal to more ardent bloggers. The app lets administrators view, edit and delete comments. It also maintains an updated page of statistics so you can track daily page views and see a list of your most popular posts.

If you enjoy reading blogs as much as creating them, WordPress also offers a section where you can find, follow and read other WordPress bloggers.

Even though WordPress appeals to bloggers who are also computer enthusiasts, I entered my testing process expecting Tumblr to offer the most far-reaching set of mobile blogging options, given Tumblr’s popularity among young, iPhone-wielding users.

But the Tumblr app (available for Apple and Android) generally gets more things right than WordPress. While Tumblr omits some of the features available on WordPress, like a statistics page, in most other respects the app is well made.

First things first. Tumblr lets bloggers upload video — imagine that! — and audio files, as well as more typical fare like embedded links.

A few more refined editing and posting features, however, are missing. You can’t alter text fonts, for instance, and when choosing an image from your phone’s photo library, there is no way to view the image in anything but a tiny thumbnail size.

To see how it might appear on your blog, you’d have to exit the app, tap over to the photo library and have a look. If you took multiple shots of the same subject, your next challenge would be to go back to the Tumblr app and hope you choose the correct thumbnail.

It’s an odd bit of clunky design, especially because little touches elsewhere indicate the company considered subtleties while developing the app. When you load a photo and choose to save a draft of your post rather than publishing immediately, for instance, the photo icon shows a little dog-ear to remind you of the pending post.

I also liked the Dashboard feature, which lets you read your Tumblr feed in a nimble format that rewards quick check-ins.

Like WordPress, the app also allows you to read other Tumblr bloggers.

Compared with WordPress and Tumblr, the Blogger app (on Apple and on Android) was extremely sparse. Blogger is owned by Google, and Google fans (or apologists) might say the app is consistent with the company’s best self — that is, it harks back to the early Google days, when simplicity and speed ruled the day.

Google critics would call it lazy.

If you have a Blogger account, you sign into the app with your Gmail credentials and a simple menu waits, listing your active blogs.

From there, you can compose a post and accompany your text with a photo you either snap from within the app or choose from the library.

Easy enough.

I had a few quibbles with it, though. Blogger suffered from the same photo-selection and text-editing problems as Tumblr, which is a bit bizarre given Google’s history of buying or developing photo and text software.

And unlike the other services I tried, the app offered no section for reading entries from your favorite Blogger publishers.

Google has not updated the Apple version of the app since its release in September, and the Android version is in a similarly nascent form.

A company representative would not say whether upgrades were in the works, but the bare-bones nature of the first release suggested that the company saw mobile blogging as an idea whose time had not yet come.

Unfortunately, the Blogger app’s design virtually guarantees that will be the case.

Quick Calls

Scholastic Storia (free for the iPad) is a must-download book app for children who like to read. It includes five free books, each with a built-in dictionary, highlighting tool and educational tools. … Consmr Barcode Scanner (free on Apple) is a slick tool that yields consumer reviews for grocery and drugstore items. … Color Splash FX (free on Android) converts photos to black and white, then lets you revert specific elements to color.

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