Mobile Blogging with the iPad

[This is veering pretty far off-topic (OK, waaay off-topic), but I know quite a few of our regulars are bloggers themselves, so I thought this might be of interest to those individuals who are doing some mobile blogging. —Alan]

Our daughter turned 15 last week and for her birthday we had an iPad reserved for her at our local Apple Store. We went down Saturday morning and got in line an hour before they opened. When we arrived there was already a crowd, but we timed it about right and got in with the first wave. It was a fun experience and the kid’s excited about her new computer. So far she’s impressed with the speed and responsiveness of the UI, the already good selection of apps, and the stunningly beautiful display. She’ll be using it for school work (running Pages), e-mail, movies, music, chat, and just about everything else she was previously doing on three separate devices. Dad’s quite impressed as well.

I’m still trying to sort out in my mind whether the iPad truly has the potential to be the ultimate mobile blogging device. I was skeptical going in, but the performance is much better than I expected, and the browsing experience is on par with my MacBook (if not superior). The big advantage is that the iPad weighs 1.5 lbs. compared to my MacBook at 4.5 lbs. The big disadvantage is that there has yet to be a photo editing app produced for the iPad/iPhone OS that does what I need it to do. If my blogging approach was based more on text and less on imagery, I’d probably already own an iPad. In the meantime, I’m waiting and watching to see what types of apps are released to fill the void for advanced photo editing. For those of you who are doing quick crops and uploads of photos direct out of the camera, this device could be a near perfect mobile blogging tool in my opinion.

As an aside, the EcoVelo header — the one at the top of the page that includes the rotating images — is a Flash object. As was true for their other mobile devices, Apple has chosen to not support Flash for the iPad. If you’re a new iPad user, you’ll notice a single, static image in place of the normal slideshow at the top of the page. The site’s not broken; since the iPad won’t display the Flash object, I put together a work-around that serves up a static image instead. If you normally read EcoVelo on a handhald device, you were already getting served our Mobile version sans graphics, and if you view the site on a standard browser, nothing has changed.

(UPDATE: Thanks to a little prompting from Greg, I figured out how to set-up a slideshow using jquery and the “cycle” plugin, so we now have a Flash-free slideshow on the iPad and iPhone. Thanks, Greg!)

24 Responses to “Mobile Blogging with the iPad”

  • Brian C says:

    I have been watching the iPad with some interest, but I suspect I need a laptop more than this new device. I have been using an eeepc for my mobile stuff on the bike, but the keyboard is too cramped (and the default version of linux with the eeepc not as useful as ubuntu / windows / mac OSX).

    Still leaning towards a 13″ macbook pro for a serious upgrade to my mobile bike needs…

  • Alan says:

    @Brian

    I’m using a 13″ Macbook Pro and it’s been great. If only it was a bit lighter…

    Alan

  • Greg says:

    You could make the a rotating-image header with Javascript quite easily (using a library like jquery and any one of numerous plugins) – then the header would still rotate on an iPad/iPhone. Flash is quite unnecessary these days unless you’re doing a full-on interactive site or “widget” of some kind.

  • Dottie says:

    Lucky daughter to have such cool parents :)

    If I couldn’t use Lightroom on the iPad, it would not be useful for my blogging purposes.

  • Alan says:

    @Dottie

    There’s a new app for the iPad called “Masque” that looks interesting and appears to have some of the functionality of Lightroom and Photoshop. In a few weeks, when I can pry the iPad out of the kid’s hands, I’ll give it a try. :-)

    Alan

  • Alan says:

    @Greg

    Thanks very much for the suggestion. I’ve never worked with jquery before, so it was a little outside my comfort zone (I’m primarily a designer), but I was able to get it all working and now we have a slideshow on the iPad. :-)

    Best regards,
    Alan

  • Rick says:

    Hmmm……I think I’m jealous…..lol!

  • RDW says:

    If your interested in feedback the new header/slideshow cuts off the top of the first blog post on the page in Firefox on Window$ for some reason, looks great on Ubuntu though. Great site btw.

  • Alan says:

    @RDW

    I tested the site on FF for Windows and it looks good here. Perhaps, try clearing your cache if you don’t mind; the change required modifying multiple template files as well as the style sheet, so I suspect your browser is holding some older versions of the files in cache.

    Thanks much-
    Alan

  • John Lascurettes says:

    Alan, you might check your header in regular desktop Safari without Flash (I use Click2Flash to block initial Flash loads). The jquery image div (class=”slideshow”) is pushed down below the top header space and is covering up the top of your blog post content.

  • John Lascurettes says:

    Sorry, strike that. Just saw the cache notation. Must have been the cache. It was fine on a force reload.

  • Paul Andrews says:

    Thanks Alan, It’s still too early to say declaratively, but so far I’m having luck with the iPad as a “third device.” I specifically got mine to blog/tweet/FB on the fly and it’s filled the bill in spades. I’m even touch typing on it now, something I did not think was possible when I first took it out of the box (my initial impressions are posted on my blog at http://bikeintelligencer.com/2010/04/ipad-for-bike-blog-first-post/).

    I go to lots of meetings, gatherings etc. where it’s truly useful to do real-time posting. Our new mayor in Seattle was holding numerous town halls with screens up front showing live twitter posts. It was cool beyond words, but in a crowded room with little surface space a laptop is almost useless and my iPhone way too small and slow. I can actually stand up holding the Pad in one hand while typing with the other (as I wrote the grippiness of the Apple logo on back acts as an anchor on one-handed use). And carrying the thing around in my bike backpack is so much nicer than a laptop.

    No way will this replace my MacBook nor my iPhone for that matter. But it may very well get used as much if not more for the mobile blogging purposes I got it for.

  • Roland Smith says:

    My platform of choice, FreeBSD, isn’t supported by Adobe. So the Flash stuff has always been a nuisance to me. Of course I could and did use FireFox’s excellent NoScript plugin to block it so I could still read the site.

    Proprietary and closed technologies are a curse for an open Web were everybody can share.

    So, thank you very much for getting rid of that Flash junk! I very much appreciate it, and I sincerely hope other sites will follow in your footsteps.

  • Mike says:

    Personally I would wait till the 3rd version of the ipad. Which Apple has already announced will replace it’s laptop line.

    The current ipad is nothing more than a HUGE itouch. Although pretty, it needs more meat for it’s sandwich so to speak. Save your money and wait for the real deal. You’ll be happier ad the bugs will be worked out.

    Just my two cents…

  • Bob says:

    I have been thinking the same thing (wonder if the iPad would be a good mobile blogging device). I feel like at this point I still need a real keyboard. I like to be able to type normally. So I will pass on the iPad for now, and stick to my 13″ macbook.

  • brad says:

    Walt Mossberg’s review in the Wall Stree Journal was interesting: he said while it isn’t a laptop replacement by any means, having the iPad around has reduced his use of his laptops and other devices considerably. I think it’s the convenience factor: instant-on, no waiting to boot up, it’s always “open,” it’s lighter and easier to carry with you, etc.

    Other reviews comparing it to the Kindle have been interesting too: I assumed the iPad would be a Kindle-killer, but in fact it’s quite a bit heavier than the Kindle and thus less comfortable for reading for long periods, plus unlike the Kindle you can’t read it in bright sunlight.

  • Alan says:

    After having spent some time with the iPad I believe it could, in fact, be a laptop replacement for many people, particularly home users. It certainly isn’t as powerful or versatile as a mid-to-upper level laptop, but it far surpasses the typical netbook in my opinion. For individuals who are doing most of their computing online through a web browser, it certainly provides a very satisfying experience. It’s only when you talk about business or content creation that it falls short. It’s an amazing device for content consumers and social network users.

    Alan

  • Travis says:

    I’ve never been an Apple person, but I did enjoy playing with my cousin’s iPad this morning.

    And I came to largely the same conclusion as you: as soon as I can do photo and video work on the iPad, I will buy one. If I can be in the field with an iPad and cameras using Eye-Fi cards, transferring content wirelessly, doing quick edits, and getting them online… I will purchase my first Apple product. :)

  • MarvinK says:

    I really am disappointed that Apple doesn’t have this thing running a full OS. I love the form factor, but I’d rather see it running full Mac OS, or even Ubuntu netbook. Both of those would support flash and photo editing. I’ll buy the first competing device that isn’t so locked down and restricted–unless, of course, Apple releases one that isn’t locked down.

  • jason says:

    grateful for the no flash version

    Clicktoflash has one less area to block now

    http://rentzsch.github.com/clicktoflash/

  • Roland Smith says:

    @MarvinK

    Where do you get the idea it’s not running a full OS? AFAIK, it’s running a variant of the iPhone’s OS, which is a flavor of OS X. In fact , it’s already been jailbroken. Currently the jailbreak only allows root console access through the secure shell protocol. In due time we’ll see more functional jailbreaks, like on the iPhone.

    WRT locked-down, I agree. While i think the iPhone and iPad are nice toys, I personally don’t like the restrictions placed on them; you can’t hack on them.

  • Greg says:

    Wow Alan, that was fast! Glad my suggestion worked out so well for you. :)

  • Alan says:

    @Greg

    Hey, we don’t mess around! (Actually, I was sitting at home all day nursing a cold, so the timing was good). :-)

    Thanks again,
    Alan

  • AdamM says:

    “It’s only when you talk about business or content creation that it falls short. It’s an amazing device for content consumers and social network users.”

    This was my instant impression of the iPad when it was annouonced. I suspect that it may have some rather interesting and unexpected (and positive!) implications for the way in which content is created for websites, time will tell. I won’t be getting an iPad anytime soon, but I will be watching with interest and am looking forward to hearing the experiences of the early adopters.

 
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