Mobile Blogging Tools

Like many people, I watched the debut of Apple’s iPad yesterday with great interest. I was particularly curious because I just recently purchased a 13″ MacBook Pro to increase my mobility as a blogger and photographer, and I was concerned that the iPad would render my recent investment obsolete. After looking over its features very carefully, I’ve come away both disappointed and relieved. On the one hand, I was hoping (naively, I suppose), that the iPad would be able to run what I consider must-have applications like Photoshop and Lightroom, and it clearly is nowhere near capable of running any professional desktop applications (nor was it intended to). So in that sense I was disappointed. On the other hand, the fact that the iPad isn’t going to cannabalize the MacBook line-up is a relief because I depend on them for my livelihood (I’m also relieved I didn’t end up regretting the purchase of an expensive new computer… LOL).

I’ve seen posts by a number of bloggers who seem very excited about the iPad as a mobile blogging tool. For text-based bloggers I can certainly understand the appeal. But I have to wonder how effective it would be for someone like myself whose photos are such an important part of what I do. I’d love to hear from bloggers who are considering the iPad about how they plan to set-up their workflow, and how they plan to manage photo processing in the mix.

As an aside, my son, who is also a graphic artist, brought up an interesting point that I hadn’t considered at all. He said that even if the iPad could run the applications he needs, he wouldn’t want a touch screen for design work because the fingerprints and smudges would be too visually distracting for the type of detailed work he does.

39 Responses to “Mobile Blogging Tools”

  • Andrew says:

    It seems to me that the iPad is very much a tool for passive consumption rather than content creation, but I suppose no one is really pretending otherwise. Truth be told, it really does seem like an answer to the question no one’s asking.

    I just find it sort of sad that no one has come up with a better tablet PC for artists and designers than my 5-year old Toshiba (which has a screen larger than any tablet you can buy today)…

  • Alan says:


    “It seems to me that the iPad is very much a tool for passive consumption rather than content creation…”

    I think that nicely sums it up, at least in regards to visual content…


  • Steve says:

    I think it’s going to be a game changing piece of hardware but it’s going to take a bit of time and updates. The first iPod was very basic in function but look where it has evolved to with the iPod Touch. The first generation iPhone pales in comparison to the 3GS.

    It’s going to be able to connect a camera and can upload photos. There are some wonderful little iPhone photo editors that do a bang up job editing photos for web posting. I think this will expand on those abilities but now reach the levels of what you do with photoshop. I believe you would be able to get photos from your ride, sit at the coffee shop doing basic editing and then typing out a blog post all right there.

    What seems like it may usher in is a truly digital medium for publishing. Everything has gotten smaller to fit laptops and smart phones but this will be able to add more interactive content to a digital pub. For interacting with digital media has the potential to be amazing. It’s not going to replace the laptop and I don’t believe that was the intent. It’s going to combine ebook readers with smart phones with mobile computing.

    So don’t worry about your laptop being obsolete, it’s far from it.

  • Jt says:

    I don’t really see this passive consumption tool. The vast amount content online is text and the iPad is extremely well suited to create and publish text. I would suspect there will be photo publish/upload process since there is a camera kit.

    The iPad is not an end-all computing device. I don’t even see it as a computing device. We are entering the era of communication being separating from computation. (of course the bits are still flying under the hood ;-) )

  • brad says:

    I disagree about the passive consumption vs. content creation. With the built-in support for an external keyboard and with its own version of iWork, this thing will be quite useful for mobile Mac-based office workers (iWork is also compatible with basic MS Office documents) and writers in general. Plus keep in mind that it will be able to download or upload files from/to your iDisk if you have a MobileMe account, so files you’re working on can be stored externally to save space.

    If there’s a real demand for mobile graphics creation and photography manipulation, I’m sure that capability will be available for the iPad in the not-too-distant future.

  • Roland Smith says:

    Hmm, can’t really get excited about this one. And while I understand Apples desire to control the software, I’m not crazy about the DRM (digital restrictions management) built into this.

    I’d be willing to buy e-books, but not to just get a (revokable) license to them. That a publisher could make the e-books that you’ve paid for inaccessible (e.g. because they can’t be bothered to keep the authentication servers up) is anathema to me.

    I’d rather put my money in a new bike. :-)

  • Doug R. says:

    So many thoughts! I recently upgraded my old nokia phone to an i phone 3Gs and I must say it has both positives and draw backs too. love the resolution of images and the internet ec. I do not like the battery consumption or the constant pocket gouging to buy an app for this or that!
    That being said, I was waiting in great anticipation for the i-pad too, as I was going to buy a new mac to go along with this fancy phone. I am deflated, but then again elated because I see the pad as a harbinger of the future, it will bring about less paper consumption for the daily news and book publishing, moreover, I see it eventually becoming “paper” thin and foldable.
    What this device will do will make media consumption and interaction truly spontaneous.

    I cannot help but think of the newspaper “The Daily Prophet” in the Harry potter books/ movies and it’s constant photographs being caught in time (movie like). while the text reader consumes the news, they get images streaming too! It is the “Door Opener” unto a Brave new world you guys and we should start thinking of how we need to use it now! Oh, I am going to simply buy a new imac 27″ for my home. It is the logical choice for me at this time. Alan, as a commercial artist/photographer you should be excited because I see the future of holographic newspapers and rub on computers to be not to far off! I do see the day when Apple produces the I-stick, a temporary computer or phone that (like a rub on tattoo) that people on the go can simply rub on an arm or belly etc. and peel it off later. Resistance is futile captain Pickard!
    I ask:”why resist”? God, what a great time to be alive, and we thought the industrial revolution was great! Dougman

  • Andrew says:

    @ brad

    But if you carry around an external keyboard, you’re negating any of the portability benefits. Though realistically, 10″ necessitates carrying a bag, so you might as well carry a notebook that you can do real work on.

    Or a netbook that has a real keyboard and costs half as much and can run an actual operating system.

    I am really just thoroughly underwhelmed by this thing. It doesn’t seem to do anything exceptionally well. It’s too slow and limited to be a notebook, too clunky to do what a smartphone can do, doesn’t have the battery life or image quality of an e-Ink book reader, and doesn’t have a Wacom digitizer to make it useful to digital artists. It’s an object that seems purely about creating a new profit niche for Apple consumers.

  • brad says:

    @Andrew: I’ve seen folding keyboards that would fit nicely into a bag next to this thing.

    Lots of people were totally underwhelmed by the iPod when it first came out, I remember people saying that nobody would ever buy it, it was too expensive and didn’t do x, y, z.

    The iPad is not intended to compete with netbooks; it’s kind of the anti-netbook. If it’s designed to compete with anything, it’s the Kindle. But really it’s designed to — as you say — create a new profit niche for Apple consumers. There is a huge installed base of people, the millions of people who own iPhones and iPod Touches, who already know how to use this thing. It will appeal to many of them.

    It was a misnomer to call this thing a tablet, because that implied to many people that it would be like the tablet PCs that various manufacturers have brought out in recent years to mostly lackluster consumer interest. Those things really are PCs and have all or most of the functionality of a PC. The iPad is really just an iPod Touch writ large, with a few extra features and enhancements thrown in to take advantage of that largeness. It’s a lifestyle accessory and was conceived as such.

  • mike says:

    the power brick for my dell ‘mobile’ precision workstation weighs 8 pounds. in my work it is unlikely that i’ll ever see a device that is thin and portable for 3d modeling and design work.

    as an internet device and media displayer – it has potential. give it a few years if it gains a toe hold. first will be all the tiny iphone apps, and eventually dedicated software. i would love to see chess and checkers on it, along with all sorts of other ‘games’ with social media implications. and with a stylus one could use some ‘paint’ programs on it. would be cool if you could take notes and sketch right on it. of course you’d want a camera – i don’t get the webcam thing that so many people are after – but a cellphone style camera that you’d be able to trace over, annotate, etc – could make this a useable device for designers, construction folk, etc. etc. and when there is a solution for OTA syncing of data, photos, music, etc. to your home server or cloud account… hmmm…. take it on the road, out to the cafe, to meet with clients as a portfolio that you can sketch on, build ideas, grab web snippets… then sync it all back up at home and knock out a presentation or design. possibilities for sure.

    for mobile blogging i’ve been trying my blackberry with wordpress app installed. no, i’m not editing high quallity hi-res photos, nor writing books… but i could do more text with an affordable folding blue tooth keyboard. i could see using the ipad for when i do presenations and am on the road working proposals, email, etc… and for using around the house as an internet tablet, etc. for movies? maybe on a plane – but the laptop and digital projector work well for that now.

    no thanks as it stands. i think i’d rather pick up a macbook air or a ‘netbook’ for when i don’t need the horsepower to do design work. i’m not too keen on touching a screen all day, and i do like the blackberry keyboard better than the iphone. spreadsheets, estimates, correspondence, webwork…

  • brad says:

    It also turns out there are applications for the iPad that none of us would have conceived of:


  • Tamia Nelson says:

    As far as I am concerned, the iPad is a damp squib. My work involves writing (sometimes as much as a couple thousand words a day), photo editing, a small amount of graphic design, and email correspondence. Research and recreation include consulting and reading PDF books and docs. I need a fast processor for the work, a readable screen for, well, reading, and a fast internet connection that doesn’t cost the earth. Despite the hype about and the shilling for touch screens, I find them off-putting and unworkable. Give me a real keyboard any day. There’s something more. Battery life will be poor with the iPad without the compensating virtues of a machine that does WORK. (Apple has never been accurate about battery life, so halve the estimated battery life to get a closer idea of the truth). The iPad seems to be nothing more than an entertainment device and a venue for the sales of Apple products like iTunes.

    I’ll stick with my Apple laptops for work at home and on the road, and for reading and storage of PDF books, I’m going with a Kindle, which has a better battery life and is well reviewed as a reader. Sorry Apple.

  • Jeremy says:

    One would hope that this is indeed the baby steps of a product that could be, dare I say, revolutionary. At least in the way that we interact with web 2.0. I was quite stoked when I first heard the rumoring, but then after learning that it won’t even support flash, hm, that a little tough to get excited about.

    But, good on apple for sticking their necks out, and now they’re laid the ground work, one would only expect them to come out with the next one that will redeem the hopes that most of us had place in the device.

    Either way, it’s exciting to see new products. Things always progress, and this is simply the beginning of that progression.

  • Alan says:


    “…I’m going with a Kindle, which has a better battery life and is well reviewed as a reader.”

    My wife is a voracious reader and she’s head-over-heels over the Kindle. Her concern over the iPad as a book reader is that the screen is no different than any other computer screen, which makes it much less desirable than the Kindle’s screen which is optimized for long hours of reading in a wide variety of lighting conditions (including bright sunlight). Also, she’s found that as long as the wireless connection is turned off, the battery life on the Kindle is amazingly long. It’s a super device that isn’t really challenged by the iPad for what it’s meant to do.


  • Tamia Nelson says:


    “…My wife is a voracious reader and she’s head-over-heels over the Kindle…”

    Thanks to you and Michael for this information, Alan. Excellent feedback on the details of Kindle, and you confirm what we’d read in “professional” reviews.

  • Paul Andrews says:

    Hi Alan,interesting perspective. I don’t do as much photo work but did have a discussion with a reader who said there’s camera connectivity thru mini-USB adapter. I figured if I had to email photos from my iPhone it wouldn’t be that big a deal. As for Photoshop, I choke on that thing on my desktop Mac. I can’t see it as an iPad app directly, although photo editors undoubtedly will spring up.

    Your son’s comment about smudging may be generation-specific. I don’t get smudging on my iPhone so wouldn’t expect it on an iPad either, but we’ll see.

    As for other stuff, day-to-day production for me and for blogging is far easier on a touch screen, and that’s the big win for the iPad. The one caveat being how easy it is to type on a flat surface (try typing on your desk’s surface, not so easy, that’s why keyboards are angled). We’ll see…

    The answer to the no-camera question is that the iPad needs 2 cameras, fore & aft, to be anything better than the iPhone, and that would’ve affected cost. I can’t believe we won’t see some innovative camera “options” pop up.

  • Karen says:

    Another vote here for the Kindle – I love mine! As for the ipad, I guess I’d rather invest in this over a netbook… but I just bought a refurb’d ibook G3 off ebay for $120 and am totally happy with that for surfing. Don’t see myself rushing out for an ipad.

  • lyle says:

    I’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the iPad. Genealogy is a big obsession of mine and although my 12″ PB does fine, it’s getting a little long in the tooth and its G4 processor doesn’t support everything I need it to. The software I use, Mac Family Tree, already has a version in the App store. I was almost ready to get an iPod Touch but am glad that I waited. This will be the perfect tool for genealogy as well as an ideal mobile email/browser/word processor/movie viewer, etc.

    It’s obviously not for power users, but for those of us who don’t need pro type software and processor power, this IS the way of the future.

  • Perry says:

    I think the iPad is being sold short by many. 1st generation. Not even available yet so it’s really hard to rate. Wait ’till the techies get ahold of them and start coming up with crazy apps and uses. Many pieces of the puzzle still to fall into place.

    I am keeping a very close on this thing and will probably have 2nd generation version (I am not an early adopter). I think it falls very nicely in between the iPod Touch and a Macbook. I will not get rid of my iPod Touch either. Courses for horses.

  • Doug R. says:

    I agree with Perry and others in support of this product. I feel that Apple has and continues to make the Best computers etc. I own a Dell, P. C. and it sits in a closet! ( I take it out to program fuel injection for some of my motorcycles). The injection program is windows based crap. I love it when people eat their words later on, however, I dislike them when they continue to argue from points of ignorance and the real truth is due to them being cheap or PC die hards. These types also bitch about high end bikes like Rivs, Waterfords, etc. Hey, save up and try one! (bike or computer), you may just find a new reality of pleasure and pride in a good product! Dougman

  • Alan says:

    When I’m out and about with the family, an iPhone or iPod Touch with a Novatel MiFi is perfect for checking movie times, looking up addresses, etc. When I’m in work mode I can’t live without the Adobe Creative Suite, so I’m on a MacBook or iMac. This may end up being a really fun device for consuming media of all types, but the more I think about it, the more I’m not sure where it would fit into my life.


  • Doug R. says:

    Alan, I believe Apple has far reaching designers and here is where I interject the classic “I told you so” line! I believe it is only a start as Perry and others have stated. I have ex students who work for Apple and I’ll keep you apprised of info as I get it.( I never said any of this of course)!
    Just think, they already have clothing that has musical microprocessors in them, so you can play air guitar for real by rubbing your shirt. Just think, your shirt, coat, or bike cap could be your next computer? (hopefully sweat resistant and washable ha, ha!) dougman.

  • Alan says:

    @Doug R.

    What I’d like to see is a device like the iPad running a full version of OSX with Firewire, USB, a 2+ghz processor, and about 8gb RAM; in other words, a 10″ MacBook Pro with a multi-touch screen. Oh yeah, and keep it under $900. Can you put in an order with your friends at Apple please? ;-)


  • Doug R. says:

    Alan, as the market share shrinks, I believe Apple will be creating just such a device to keep “afloat”! The i phone gave way to the i touch etc. etc. If this economy keeps spinning down, Mac will have to compromise to keep customers! I’ll keep an ear to the rumor mill for sure, but people do like to keep their jobs these days! I do predict that if successful, the i pad will be given more power/capabilities and a larger screen to match the the “feel” of the old sunday newspaper! (rat musings). I still want a computer that you can fold up into origami forms when your not using it!

  • Andrew says:

    I dunno, Doug, for serious designers, digital artists, and animators, Apple simply doesn’t make a suitable product. It’s always struck me as a bit odd that people equate Apple with creative work, yet for an industrial designer like me, a PC is the only choice (unless you’re a real Apple diehard and are willing to pay Axiotron $700 to modify your Macbook).

    I’ve used both PCs and Macs extensively, with a basic Linux netbook on the side. I have yet to find a single compelling reason to switch to Mac.

  • Doug R. says:

    Andrew, I understand your needs for your work, however, What computers create all of the cgi for Hollywood? Last time I checked it was Macs? Maybe I am miss informed?

  • Doug R. says:

    Something for Andrew!

  • Alan says:


    “…for serious designers, digital artists, and animators, Apple simply doesn’t make a suitable product.”

    Macs have always been the standard in the graphic design industry. Perhaps we graphic designers aren’t “serious”… ;-)


  • Doug R. says:

    Listen, we all enjoy the products that work for us, so leave it at that! However, my Macs have “never” failed me in anyway except to need a better one when the time came! Today, is pay day and I am ordering my new Imac 27″! I am a happy man. (like others have stated, I will wait for the i pad to come out to see how it is doing before buying one) Peace, Dougman.

  • Perry says:

    @Doug R: I picked up 27 inch iMac in Dec. and it is one sweet rocking machine! You are going to love it.

    Disclaimer: My wife and I have been designing and laying out illustrated books (exclusively on Macs) since 1989. I guess one day we will have to break down and buy one of those serious work machines I hear so much about. Maybe then we can really get down to business. ;-)

  • Doug R. says:

    Perry you da’ man, btw, here is the configurations of my new Imac, let me know what you think? Thanks, Dougman

    With the following configuration:
    • MEMORY 065-9265 8GB 1066MHZ DDR3 SDRAM – 4X2GB
    • GRAPHICS 065-8981 ATI RADEON HD 4850 512MB

  • Andrew says:

    @ Alan, Doug, Perry

    Sorry, didn’t at all mean to imply that the artwork you guys do is any less significant or serious. I should probably have specified more clearly, since it is a small niche (probably why Apple doesn’t bother catering to it), but since this is a thread about tablets, I was referring to people who need to draw/sketch/paint digitally. Yes, you can get a Wacom Cintiq that works with your desktop Mac if you have $2000 and no need for portability, but you could also just get a tablet PC that is a self-contained.

    As far as the CAD/3D workstation market goes, it remains heavily dominated by the big PC players (Dell, HP), with a small market of Apple and Sun systems, and niche players like SGI at the ultra-high end. Whether that’s virtue or historic momentum, who knows.

    Graphic arts, publishing, and mid-end video production are definitely dominated by Mac. At the high-end of video/VFX/compositing you start getting into proprietary software by companies like Autodesk/discreet.

    …and that does look like a pretty serious machine, Doug. I’m sure you’ll love it.

  • Perry says:

    @Andrew: No worries, man. I was just having some fun there.

    @Doug R.: That looks great. I am no expert though. Before I got my iMac, I polled my Mac friends (including Alan) and got some general advice. My feeling is you won’t go wrong with whichever iMac you pick. Just a matter of what suits your work/needs. More RAM is always good in my book too.

    As for software, it is a matter of the right tool for the job, so go with your gut. I will say that have using FIleMaker for a gajillion years and love it. I used to be pretty adept at building databases with it back in the 90s but now I mostly use it to run legacy stuff and I don’t tamper too much with the under-workings of the files. It’s still fun to get in there from time-to-time and do something slick (when I can pull it off).

  • Doug R. says:

    Andrew, thanks for the thumbs up on the mac, I believe we are all heading for a future where the machines are all one. I hear a lot about unix from my students (geek kids) an they believe we are moving toward a universal unix product? I am a Ceramics teacher with a master’s in drawing, painting and Sculpture, all I want is to use the machine for some home based graphics and things like this blog. Oh, and Diablo 111 if it ever comes out? ha, ha. peace, Dougman

  • Roland Smith says:


    “What computers create all of the cgi for Hollywood?”

    AFAIK, the renderfarms doing the hard work often run Linux.

    Character design and animation is e.g. done with blender. (It’s available for Linux, OS X, windows and SGI) The interface takes getting used to, but it can create stunning designs.

  • Nicolas says:

    I agree with technological progress, but in the specific case of home computers and telephones, we tend to replace more and more often the obsolete electronic parts we buy. Either manufacturing or recycling them is energy consuming. Let’s take the example of electronic calendars : what is the most ecological, my 3 year longing iPhone which batteries have to be reloaded every 5 day or a 1 year filling paper bloc for my paper calendar (on which I can write, draw, dash and erase in a couple of seconds) ?
    Yes, technology is exciting, but as transportation represent a large amount of our carbon emissions, the other parts are made of heating and of the objects we buy.

  • Doug R. says:

    Nicolas, please check out mac’s new green build and recycling program. Dougman

  • Nicolas says:

    @ Dougman,
    I found figures and engagements with dates on Apple’s website. They nearly convinced me :-)


  • Roland Smith says:


    The operating system of current macs, OS X, is actually based on UNIX. See Architecture of Mac OS X on wikipedia.

    One could argue that OS X is the UNIX for non-geeks. :-)

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