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The iPhone 3G as a Blogging Tool – My Review

Posted By Darren Rowse 5th of August 2008 Blogging Tools and Services 0 Comments

Apple-Iphone-3G-Review-Blogging-ToolHow I Use My iPhone for Blogging

I bought an iPhone – and in this post I’m going to tell you how I use it (so far) in my blogging…

A few weeks ago I ranted about the sorry state of Australian mobile carriers and how they (particularly the one I used, Telstra) make buying an iPhone a crazily expensive. In the days after writing the post I decided to bite the bullet and switch carriers to the one offering the most affordable option (Optus).

I settled on a black 16GB model and after waiting for 9 days for it to come into stock it arrived last Thursday.

I’ve been Tweeting a little about my initial experience of the iPhone and quite a few of my Twitter buddies have asked me to write a review of the iPhone as a blogging tool. I am not writing a general review here of the iPhone as a phone – but want to focus this upon it as a tool for bloggers.

My Review of The iPhone as a Blogging Tool

Iphone-Blogging-ToolI should start out by saying that I didn’t buy the iPhone with the hope that it’d ever become my primary blogging tool – however I did hope that it would assist me in some areas of my blogging.

Blog Post Writing

The primary task of a blogger is to write and publish content. I do not see the iPhone as playing any real part in this task for me (with one exception which I’ll write about below).

The main reason for this is that my style of blogging is to write posts that go into a reasonable depth and which often go over 1000 words. The thought of having to write 1000 words on an iPhone is enough to make me want to curl up in the fetal position and start crying.

I know the speed and accuracy in which I’ll be able to input text into the iPhone will increase with practice – but this is not a gadget that has been designed with the goal of inputting large amounts of text. The on screen keyboard does the job well for small amounts of text (for Twitter it’s perfect) but unless Apple (or one of their partners) develops a keyboard that can be connected to the iPhone – I don’t see me using it to write posts.

The other reasons that I don’t see it as being that useful for writing posts is that my style of writing a post is one where I tend to use images, screen captures, flip between windows while writing etc – while some of this can be done on the iPhone it isn’t ideally suited to my posting workflow.

The WordPress Application is excellent. As you’ll see from the comments of my Twitter friends below, it is one of the most used applications that they’re using.

The exception to this would be for breaking news when posts need to go up quickly and need not be long. The iPhone will be very handy in this case.

I do think that some other bloggers will use the iPhone more for writing posts (for example Wayne Sutton has a blog where he’s ONLY posting with the iPhone) but it’ll be suited more for those who write shorter posts (or those with more patience than me).

All is not lost though fellow bloggers – let me share how I DO see myself using the iPhone as a blogger:

Capturing Ideas

I’ve written before about how I am a big user of notebooks and try to carry one with me everywhere so that I can capture ideas for posts as they hit me. I could definitely see the iPhone as replacing my Moleskine notebook as a tool for capturing ideas.

I’m still testing different applications for this type of task – however there are a few that are promising including Evernote (to be able to capture ideas as pictures, voice, text etc is very attractive), Younote (similar) or even just the default ‘notepad’ that comes with the iPhone (and there are a lot more that I’m going to test before settling on one).

Other Task Management

I suspect that whichever application that I choose to capture ideas for my blogs will also be used as a more general ‘task managing tool’ also. This is the other thing that I use my notebook for. This includes creating ‘to do’ lists, making notes for presentations, making notes for email newsletters etc.

Monitoring Stats

Iphone-Review-1-StatsThere are times where it can be particularly useful to know if there is a ‘traffic event’ happening on one of your blogs. For example it’s good to know when a post gets a rush of traffic from a social media site or another blog linking up. On the other hand it’s also good to know when your blog is down.

I saw the power of the iPhone as a monitoring tool this weekend when Sitemeter had issues and didn’t allow my blogs to be viewed by IE7 users. I knew of this problem within an hour of it happening because I received emails and tweets on my iPhone and also noticed stats were down when I checked them on it. I found all this out while out shopping with my family and was able to take action reasonably quickly all while away from my computers.

What I would like to do is set up some way to be notified of ‘traffic events’ on my blogs. For example to have some sort of notification service (SMS or email) when a post gets a lot of traffic or when servers go down for XX minutes. I know some hosting services offer this but it’d be interesting to see an analytics package develop one for smaller publishers.

Micro Blogging

Iphone-Review-2-Micro-BloggingMy use of Twitter and Plurk over the last few days has probably increased slightly. While I still tend to do these activities in ‘batches’ being able to jump on these social messaging services in a spare minute when you’re out and about is quite handy.

Of course you could use these services to simply have fun, fill in time etc – but when services like Twitter are an important part of your blogging then it is effectively helping you to be a more productive blogger.


One of the things I played with over the weekend was instant messaging on my iPhone. I got on Gtalk and while I was just jumping on to ‘see if I could’ and test the app I ended up having a conversation with another blogger which was really productive.

I don’t foresee me using IM much on my iPhone – but to know I can is handy.

Moderating Comments

Iphone-Review-3-Comment-ModerationModerating comments is a job that needs to be done regularly and on the iPhone it’s a relatively simple job. I actually did it this morning over breakfast and it took me just as long on the iPhone as it does on my computer.

Again – I probably won’t do this daily but it’ll be handy to be able to quickly moderate comments when traveling.

Probably more useful will be when you have some sort of a situation in the comments on your blog that needs you to oversee it. For example when you have a flaming war happen between two readers and you need to step in.

Email Triage

Iphone-Review-4-EmailOne of the things that I’m enjoying most about the iPhone is being able to quickly flip through my email to do a little ‘processing’. Over the weekend it was great to be able to quickly scan the latest emails to see if anything was urgent (and to respond to these quickly), to spot any emails that could be deleted quickly (social media notifications for example) or to see what needed to be marked for ‘later’.

Being able to do this task quickly on the fly frees up time later when you’re actually on your computer for other important tasks.

Post Editing

Another task that I did a couple of times over the weekend was to edit posts. On one occassion it was simply logging into the back end of WordPress to set the time to publish for a post that I’d already written and on another occasion it was the editing of a spelling mistake. These small editing tasks are no brainers on the iPhone.

Feed Monitoring

Iphone-Review-5-FeedsI follow 600+ RSS feeds so I doubt very much whether the iPhone will ever be my primary place to read them all – however I’ve already used it to follow my ‘A-list’ (a handful of blogs that I read religiously because they are either so useful or consistantly break news that is relevant to the niches that I follow). I’m currently doing this via Google Reader directly – but am told that the Byline Application is useful and syncs well with Google Reader.

Concluding Thoughts and My Wishlist for the iPhone as a Blogger

The above list is simply how I’ve used the iPhone after a few days. I’m sure as I continue to use it I’ll discover that some of the above will be more important to me than other parts of it. I also know that as new applications are developed for the iPhone that other uses for it will arise.

In conclusion, as a blogging tool, the iPhone meets the expectations that I had when I bought it.

I didn’t expect it to be ever be a primary blogging device – and it isn’t – however it will be a very useful device to use as a secondary and supporting blogging device. It will save me time, allow me to be aware of important events that are relevant to my blogs and help me to connect better with readers and other bloggers.

I’m certain that other mobile devices can do similar things (in fact some like the Nokia 95 have a number of the things in my wishlist below) but for me, at least for the next little while, it’s the iPhone that I’ll be carrying in my pocket.

My Wishlist for the iPhone:

How could the iPhone be more useful for bloggers? Here’s a few ideas:

  • External keyboard – without it I think I’ll rarely write posts on the iPhone. It’d also be handy to have for note taking at conferences.
  • Video capture – I’d love to have the ability to record video on the iPhone, it’d make it a killer blogging device for me (till then I’ve just ordered a Flip which much more portable than my current camcorder).
  • Copy and paste – almost every review of the iPhone that I’ve read has asked for this. As a blogger it’d be hugely useful.
  • Battery life – I’m yet to go far from home with my iPhone but on those days when I’m out and about a lot I could see how I’m either going to have to take my power adaptor with me or really be careful how much I use it.
  • Unlimited Data Plans (Australia) – I know many of you have these in your countries but here in Australia data remains ridiculously expensive (even on the cheaper carrier that I’m with). I currently have a 500MB allowance which on most days will be fine – but as soon as I travel I’m going to be in trouble).

What My Friends Said:

I asked on Twitter and Plurk how my friends there are using the iPhone in their blogging. Here’s how just a few of them responded:

@preneur said – “Taking photos (& autoposting from flckr), making notes for future posts, approving comments via the wodpress apps”

@RealitySEO said – “Since I usually write lengthy articles for one blog, not willing to use iPhone – but have used it for a daily money quotes blog”

@mayken said – “Just started using it myself, been twittering a bit, but the wordpress app is a great little program to use so far.”

@DrCris said – “Using iPhone to read feeds – means I get that when I sit down I already have all my information and all I have to do is post/”

@kriskarkoski said – “Right now mainly using my iPhone for keeping up on my email and feeds and doing some live blogging but hard w/o c&p”

@GrantGriffiths said – “blog editor with WP, RSS reader with netnewswire and Instapaper, check stats with Mint, twitter with twitterrific.”

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. bob cobb says: 08/05/2008 at 12:15 am

    copy/paste is definitely a HUGE deal for me. I still have to keep my windows mobile phone with me because I simply can’t copy paste with my iPhone. However, I am loving my iphone other then that. So much more enjoyable to use than any WM or BB phone

  2. Must be awful to write posts with iPhone.. I have tried to blog with my Nokia N81, but it’s was really painful.
    But I guess it’s better than nothing if you are away from computer ad have to write a post.

  3. Darren,

    Thanks for the great post!

    You make some excellent points about what Apple could do to make the iPhone better.

    With your clout you could make Apple to sit up and take notice. All you would have to do is invite your readers that use the iPhone to contact Apple with their suggestions (many of which overlap with your own suggestions).

    Personally, I think the iPhone is definitely a nifty tool but it doesn’t service all my needs.

    I agree that an external keyboard would be really quite nice.

    In addition I wish it had a larger storage capacity. My 80 GB stores all my music & movies for the long commute to work.

    I also have no desire to cancel my current cell contract (and pay a hefty fee) and switch to an ‘authorized’ iPhone cell carrier.

    You can read the rest of reasons not to buy an iPhone:

  4. Darren,

    I did a similar post recently on what the iPhone can do for your online world. The one problem I would have for using it for blogging is the slowness of the touch screen keyboard and the lack (at least for now) of a program that really handles WordPress well. My theme requires some extra fields to work correctly.

    Right now, it does to a great job with Flickr, Twitter and sharing information. Hopefully, in the future, it will be the blogging tool it has the possibility of becoming.

    In this post I took a picture of one of our fellow riders using his new 3G iPhone to post pictures of the ride on our local forum. His one complaint was no copy/paste. From what I have heard…this is built in but not released yet.



  5. Yeah, I can see how the Iphone can be useful to assist you in the process of blogging, but it’s too limited to be used as your primary tool. The copy/paste is a big issue too. It’s a nice gadget, but as for blogging, I think that there are better tools avaiable.

  6. With the WordPress app, the Iphone has finally migrated to a gadget I really admire, to a tool I’d really like to have. Here’s to hoping, I can justify its purchase soon.

  7. if you have .htaccess on your wp-admin folder forget using wordpress for the iphone

    also i found that wp for the iphone sometimes made phantom post with an unusual title that showed up in my feed but when clicked on the title no page could be found. this eventually disapeared.

    moderating comments isn’t bad if you use askimet – everything else i can just check my email and go from there

  8. Darren,

    I’m surprised, given your requirements and the final ‘wish-list’, that you’ve not looked at some of the latest S60-powered handsets such as the N95 or N82. All S60 handsets solve 4 of the 5 ‘wishlist’ items that you posted above, and there are 2 WordPress ‘apps’ (one’s a plugin, really) that make blogging a breeze.

    Jay Fenton has a python application called Scribe (http://www.symbian-guru.com/welcome/2008/03/jay-fenton-launches-scribe-for-s60v3-wordpress-bloggers.html) that allows you to manage your content, and there’s a *really* handy plugin called Wphone (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wphone/) that mobilizes your WordPress dashboard quite nicely.

    I’d love to see your thoughts on using those solutions, as well.

    For the keyboard, I would highly recommend either the Nokia SU-8W or the iGo Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard. The SU-8W is natively supported and uses tons of great shortcuts, but the keys are a bit small. The iGo needs you to install a driver application, but offers a laptop-sized keyboard (and it’s cheaper).

    Please feel free to ping me for more information on any of these options.

  9. You Should be able to record and post video from you iphone… I thought that’s why services such as Qik.com and Flixwagon.com were created?

    Here’s a post on TechCrunch Demo’ing the services:

    But, I may be mistaken. This may be something that is carrier dependant, but worth a look.

    I’m still holding off on getting an iphone. I got a Blackberry pearl last year and my wife would kill me if I spent another $250 on a new phone.

  10. Could not agree more on the post Darren. I have actually found the iPhone to be one of those must have blogging tools. And, thanks for the reminder that I could use it to moderate comments. D’oh!!!

  11. The WordPress App has made all the difference for me when it comes to writing posts with it. Of course, it needs a lot of work but with the WordPress development team cranking out new WordPress releases so fast, this app could take the back burner. Nonetheless it is an excellent app for writing shorter posts and definitely copy editing already written posts when you are on the go!

  12. BTW Darren, you are going to love the Flip. It really is a great tool and necessary until the iPhone has video capture. At that time I am hoping to use it with Qik.

  13. Thanks for the ammo to justify getting one to my wife! One of the things I’d do LEAST is making calls, which is all she does on her phone!

  14. I agree with you here (including the unlimited plan, for Canada in my case). I tried blogging with long posts on the iPhone and end up editing on the laptop. Copying the image locations from Flickr can’t be done and that’s always part of my posts. I use it a lot for editing comments and checking urgent emails. Plus it limits my time on emails and chats. I keep things short because of the battery life. I guess that’s the unintended benefit.

  15. I use mine mainly for the Google reader. It allows me to be able to comment as soon as I see a new post. I went want to miss the chance of being interactive right away.

  16. Agree. I find myself using Twitter and email the most. I am still looking for a good task list program, though Lists from Zenbe seems to be doing the thing. I also second the vote for an external keyboard. If I could have that, I could leave my laptop behind most of the time.

    The other thing – blog related – I use mine for is listening to podcasts. Not necessarily directly related to writing my blogs, but it does give me ideas and keep me in touch.

  17. Quite complete, I must agree, in the meantime you can check this out too (shorter than yours :)) blogging with an iPhone

    Thanks for the post. (comment from my iPhone ;) )

  18. I examined my husband over the last week using his iPhone. I have been reluctant because I cannot operate properly the iPod Touch keyboard. The big plus for me would be able to post pictures on Twitter as a trailer to an upcoming post. And reading my RSS on the go would make me more productive. Being connected to the Web is a huge advantage when you are talking to people about your blog.

    My wish list also includes Task management software. I need at least an alarm on the phone or by email.

  19. Good post, lots of similar usage than what I have. Check out this iPhone eXtndr concept on YouTube video that I did while I was waiting on my own iPhone a while back.


    This is a concept drawing that would be nice add-on to iPhone. I hope some accessory manufacturer will pick up some ideas from it and make it reality ;)

    One other thing that I think iPhone is good for and that is to help me smoothly wake up in the mornings. Sure it’s good for alarm first, but nothing gets you waked up smoother than starting to read RSS when you can open your eyes (before you rise up from the bed) – suddenly you are all wake up.

  20. Great post; I’ve written a few posts here and there with my Helio Ocean.

    My biggest issue is that I cannot upload images with it. I’m in the process of working out a way to bypass that. If I could do so, I wouldn’t mind writing some shorter posts with it, but I agree, for longer, more indepth posts, it’s just not a feasible method.

    By the way, I like that “what my friends said” section of your post, I may have to borrow that idea. (I’ll credit you if I end up doing so.)

  21. The Iphone is an amazing phone but I had some trouble with the wordpress software. Some articles were cuts when published… I will wait for a release…

  22. Darren, I couldn’t agree with you more, the Iphone, which i have the first version of, is limited in the performance as a blogger, i use it primarilly as a blogger to Tweet, (Twitter), as the limiter ability to write content worthly posts wold take too long and would be too tedius on the Iphone. Great Post!

  23. Regarding monitoring website up-time, I use the service Pingdom (http://www.pingdom.com/) it sends an SMS message and/or email whenever my site goes down. I’ve found that it works not only when the server goes down but also if any script errors occur e.g the page can’t load but the server can be reached.

    I think you need to buy credits for x number of SMS’s to be sent (I got a years free deal from somewhere so I’m not sure) but they do have a 30 day free trial with 20 SMS so you can test them out.

    My only complaint is when my mobile goes off at 3AM in the morning because my website’s keeled over!

  24. I’m not sure how great this is, but their is a copy and paste app for the iphone.


    I haven’t got an iphone yet for many of the reasons you mentioned, the main one being I live in Canada and it sounds like we have similar prices to Australia. Your review of it as a blogging tool is really making me want one. I also want to use it to keep up to date on what’s happening on long transit commutes to work.

    There is also rumoured native support for the iPhone coming in the future.

  25. I have tried the IPhone for typing and I just can’t get a feel for it. I have done alot of typing with my blackberry and I find the physical feel is better. However it seems the apps for the IPhone are better. As for doing to-do lists and ideas I have never been able to get myself in the habbit of using my blackberry. Pen and paper just feel better.

  26. Nice review. I agree with you, the iPhone is perfect to use twitter, plurk, moderate comments and this kind of simple things.

    To write a post with 300 words or more could be very worthy without a keyboard…

  27. I suggest buying Byline as well, I love that it syncs with Google Reader and the developer has been consistently adding new features. There are only two things that I wish they would add to it though (of which the developer has said he is working on) the ability to browse feeds by tag and the ability to sync more than 25 new items for offline browsing.

    Other than those two issues Byline is great, I’ve used it since it was released to the App Store and it is my most used application.

  28. Is there an iphone app to allow montoring with google analytics? Going thru safari to the web page is cumbersome. I don’t want to use sitemeter, it seems to slow down my page load.

  29. I have the first generation iPhone, and have been using it for awhile now to help out with my blog. It is definitely not convenient to write full length blog posts, but is an amazing help when it comes to approving comments. I use it all the time when on the road to approve them and it makes it simple since I get an email every time a comment comes in.

    It also works well for updating twitter, and staying up to date with Facebook, MySpace, Etc…

    I would agree, if there was an external keyboard, I could use the phone to blog all the time. Except inserting pictures and what not could be somewhat of a hassle.

  30. The only time an iPhone will be useful for blogging is, like you said, for breaking news and maybe for Twitter. If you really want to be able to blog on the go get a small laptop and a connect card.

  31. I don’t have iPhone service in my part of the US; however, I do have an iPod Touch, and almost everything you discuss is doable, as long as one has wi-fi connectivity.

    Some great ideas here, and I’m looking forward to trying them out, especially when we drive from South Dakota to California, then fly to Hawai’i for a week in September.

  32. I think I am old fashioned about posting on my blog. I don’t even use any external tool. I just love WordPress post editor.

  33. well , this is a very nice tool . i would like to have one . but is it compatible with all blogging formats

  34. gasp!! If I wasn’t a believe in the iPhone before today, I am now!

    Nice review.

    Nothing like a few WordPress screen shots to get my blood bumping…

  35. Excellent review.

    I’m a windows mobile user (with lots of apps), and have been reluctant to switch over because I like keys on my device and I hate AT&T.

    It seems the iPhone though may actually be an overall better tool, especially now that it’s 3G.

    Now I have to get myself down to the apple store and try one out.

  36. Great Post! I’ve been using my slower model for these uses for about a year now. I don’t write full posts with it because…as you stated, the keyboard would drive me crazy. Otherwise though…I’ve been really pleased with being able to monitor my stats, comments…etc. Looking forward to seeing more of your iPhone posts.

  37. Darren there are a number of website monitoring services out there that obviously also monitor your server. Some of them offer SMS notification and at least one has an automated phone call system too.

    Just do a search in Google for website monitoring and you’ll find them.

    “The thought of having to write 1000 words on an iPhone is enough to make me want to curl up in the fetal position and start crying. ” … that made me laugh – sadly it’s the situation for just about any hand-held device and even harder on my N95.

  38. Sadly, it’s still “coming soon” over here, should be available by the second half of this month… I definitely have my eye out for it, not just for blogging but also for a bit of fun trying to develop an app or two for it :)

    But yeah, typing on the thing without some sort of external keyboard would just be torture for anything other than the shortest posts. I’ll most likely end up using it to read other blogs and maybe post comments than actually write full posts with it.

  39. It’s a great review from a blogger’s perspective. Then again, we must give the iPhone some credit because after all, it wasn’t designed to for a blogger to begin with.

    Then again this review might provide iPhone designers some valuable input for their work on the next version of the device.

  40. You should get dragon naturally speaking. This would make writing blog posts on the iphone a lot easier.

  41. I second several of your wish-list items, especially the external keyboard. If it had a docking station that could connect it to a keyboard, mouse, and monitor, I’d toss my laptop!

  42. Heheh Darren, If a Nokia fan read your article he would immediately recommend the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet, check it out, I guarantee you will like it.

  43. Great that you have an iphone. I can’t get one because Verizon doesn’t support it :(

  44. Great review. It has opened my eyes to what can be accomplished with this phone. I plan on purchasing one based on this review.

  45. i also blogging with my phone, nokia 6120c. Just type the message and email to [email protected], then it will paste directly to your blog.

  46. Darren Said: “I could definitely see the iPhone as replacing my Moleskine notebook as a tool for capturing ideas.”

    I love my iphone, had it since day one, but I can’t imagine it taking the place of my moleskine notebook. They make a nice tandem.

    As for idea capture, there is a voice recorder app for the iphone which could be good for capturing an idea on the run, but I don’t think you can transfer any of the recordings, yet.

  47. It is hard work writing long amounts of text on an iPhone, your blogs would need to be fairly sort if you were to use it as your primary bloging tool. But for quick posts and and email management when you are away from the office it is great.

  48. Thanks for the article!
    I have also been looking into blogging with my phone, but with my HTC Touch (Windows mobile).

  49. My problem is not able to get a IPhone in my country. I am definitely going to consider HTC Touch as a alternative.

  50. I have seen lot of craze for iphone, it was even in the news when people were getting iphone on a contract from a mobile service provider. I have used PDA before iphone , i was very excited for few weeks but it is now in my drawer for more than a year, i use it occasionally.

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