iPad Blogging: My Experiences
I've been blogging for a few years now, and I've been writing tech news and reviews for longer than that. The one thing I can honestly say I'm always on the lookout for is a way to streamline my workflow, especially when I'm on the go and I want to travel light.
I've owned an iPhone since the day it was released in 2007, and it's only gotten better over the years with really solid firmware and hardware updates. I can tweet and Facebook all day long on my iPhone, but I just can't get on board with full-bore blogging on it. That's where my trusty MacBook Pro has stepped in while doubling as my Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop/World of Warcraft workstation. The issue there, however, is the increase in weight and size of carried items if I was mobile.
Well, I've discovered a new way to feel less burdened on the go and still remain productive with my blogging and social networking infatuation: Apple's iPad.
It's no secret that I'm an Apple fan. We have four Macs, two iPhones and now an iPad in the house, and I'm working on schematics for an Apple-branded neural implant for each family member (don't tell them, it's a surprise). The one thing I've always loved my Apple products for is that they mesh with the creative gene very well. Now, it looks like I've finally managed to strike that perfect balance of capability, creativity and mobility with the iPad. Without further adieu, I give you my unabridged opinion of the iPad as a creative writing and blogging tool...
I began this assignment like most others, except that I had to figure out how to blog on a device I'd scarcely used before. I had downloaded the official Wordpress app onto my iPhone, but had decided that thumb-typing an entire post on a 3" screen would require far too much patience and possibly large amounts of alcohol to accomplish on a regular basis. Ok, so this iPad has a MUCH larger virtual keyboard than the iPhone, along with a very beautiful and crisp LCD screen...so let's use it!
As I fired up the Wordpress app on the iPad (there's an optimized version for the larger screen), I began penning a post. I quickly realized that I couldn't post pictures easily with Wordpress (it puts all pictures at the bottom of the post, and there are no formatting options), which is pretty much a deal-breaker. I went on the hunt for another iPad-optimized blogging app, and one of the candidates that kept cropping up was BlogPress. I paid the $2.99 asking price and downloaded it because photo-formatting was one of it's strong points in all the reviews I read. But since this isn't an app review proper, let's just skip ahead by saying that Wordpress needs some improvements (and caused the most frustration of anything blogging-related so far) but BlogPress setup and operation was quick, easy and painless, and photo placement and manipulation is straightforward.
So, how is it to play professional blogger on the iPad? Well, it's wonderful, interesting, frustrating and fun all at the same time. While it has a very spacious virtual keyboard (especially when the iPad is turned to landscape mode), I still have difficulty "assuming the typing position" and burning away at 66wpm like on a normal keyboard. I find that I'm still using just a couple fingers at a time instead of using a normal typing posture due to mis-taps from errant fingers or palms. I know this is something I'll overcome, but it's just a learning curve to be sure. I'm already getting better, but with no tactile feedback from a physical keyboard, it's a bit frustrating to not be able to just put a flurry of words down like normal. Again, I'm already getting better, and with words being corrected automatically as I go, it helps quite a bit.
So, how about the screen? Well, it is simply a joy to use. I still have good eyesight, so I find absolutely NO issue with the iPad's 9.7" screen, particularly in landscape mode (there is a lock-switch on the side of the iPad that allows you to lock the screen orientation to portrait or landscape while you're working). The screen is crisp, bright and can be brightened or darkened to fit most lighting conditions. The viewing angle allows me to see the screen while tilted in almost any direction except completely away from me, which is also a good feature since it will most likely be used in a lap or in non-traditionally-sitting postures.
The case design works well ergonomically, and the device is light enough to be held for long periods of time without causing fatigue. As well, it certainly won't be burdensome on your lap if you choose to lay it there while you type (which is how I've got it positioned while writing this). The aluminum back isn't too slick, so I don't feel like it's going to slip out of my hand while changing from seated to lying down, for example. Also, I'd say most adult hands would be able to thumb-type if you were lying supine and wanted to hold the device up with both arms, although typing speed might suffer.
How about battery life? Well, let's just say that's one area the iPad shines. I haven't tested it fully yet, but Apple's claim is that it will last 10 hours on a charge. So far, I've charged this unit once and have gotten a solid four hours of intensive use and I've still got 61% battery left, and that's over two full days. I'd say that I'm going to get some serious writing time in off of a single charge on this baby! That's huge as compared to most notebook computers.
I'm sure I'll have more to say in the coming weeks and months but preliminarily, I think I've got a great, efficient and highly mobile way to stay socially connected now.