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WordPress on iOS: app or browser?

The ability to post updates to this site while on the go is really important to me. I’m sure mobility is a high priority for a lot of WordPress users.

I’ve been using the WordPress app on iOS for some time now. I’ve learned that there are some things that it can and can’t do. The developers working on the WordPress app clearly put in a lot of work to keep it updated. But it remains an incomplete experience when compared to the normal WordPress admin page on the desktop.

Perhaps that’s the point. I think of the app as WordPress “Express”, and that’s how I use it.

I logged in to the WordPress admin screen in Mobile Safari on an iOS device yesterday. It was the first time I had done this in quite a while, and there were a few nice surprises. The most impressive changes to the WordPress admin screen as viewed from Moble Safari were:

  • Responsive design
  • Ability to upload photos from iOS

That second one is a big deal. One reason I stuck with the iOS app instead of using Safari was the ability to upload photos. There was a time when the app was the only way to upload photos to a WordPress site from iOS.

I’m sure it required an update in iOS itself to achieve photo uploads from Mobile Safari, which means this feature must have been available since at least last September, if not earlier. But it’s news to me.

So which is better, the WordPress iOS app or the admin screen in Mobile Safari?### The WordPress admin screen in Mobile Safari

Logging in to the admin screen from Mobile Safari gives you unfettered access to everything you would normally do in the admin screen on the desktop. This includes category and tag management and any plugins like SEO control and whatnot that you may have installed on your WordPress site.

But text editing in a text field in Mobile Safari is painfully slow, inaccurate, and a little dangerous.

I say it’s slow and inaccurate because text editing on iOS is already challenging, but on top of that you add the confusion of trying to scroll a text field within a browser window on a touch screen (which one scrolls when?). Other challenges include screen laggy-ness and keyboard bouncing (touch the wrong thing and the keyboard pops up or down, and you may be lurched to different part of the page).

I say text editing in Mobile Safari is dangerous because the browser has a habit of reloading your tabs without warning.

Say you are writing something and need to search for a link that you want to post in your article. You open a new tab, search, find the URL you want, and copy it. In my experience, it is a crapshoot as to whether Mobile Safari will reload your WordPress admin tab when you click back to it. If that happens and you had unsaved changes, they are now gone. This just happened to me a few moments ago…

(I will note here that I don’t compose from scratch in WordPress itself. For the bulk of the writing, I use Simplenote. But inevitably I make final edits and do some markup in WordPress.)

The WordPress iOS app

The strength of the iOS WordPress app for me is it’s stability when editing text. It will save what you write without incident.

The app doesn’t give you anything special in terms of a keyboard (like quick access to HTML markup punctuation), but it does provide easy shortcuts to a few basic markup tags like strong, em, a href (for links), blockquote, and so on.

But the ability to access many WordPress plug-in features in the iOS app is limited. One example is that there is no way to control the Jetpack plugin’s Publicize feature from the iOS app.

Answer the question already

If you have no customizations for writing posts on WordPress, go with the iOS app. It will make writing and editing smoother, the whole experience is streamlined, and you will only ever have to log in to the app once (unless you want to log in and log out each time).

If you have certain customizations or plugins that the iOS app won’t let you interact with, I say use both the app and the WordPress admin screen in Mobile Safari:

  • In the app, get the writing done and formatted, then save the draft.
  • When that’s done, go to the admin screen in Mobile Safari where you can open the draft, fidget with all of your bells and whistles, then publish from there.

What I don’t recommend is writing and editing in Mobile Safari. Sooner or later you will lose something, even if you don’t mind hitting save after every step.

WordPress on iOS: app or browser?
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