Thursday, May 15, 2014

App review: Blogger

This was not written on the Blogger app. I don't see myself writing a lot of app reviews, but I thought I'd make an exception for Google's own Blogger app. Wait, this was made by Google? This app is kinda sad.

I downloaded it because I found that I couldn't use the web interface to write a post in Safari for iOS (maybe I should try Chrome). On the iPad, typing into the Blogger interface is slow, balky, and unpredictable. But compared to the app, it's not that bad.

First, something positive. When you type a post into the Blogger app, the characters appear without any delay. It is responsive. It needs more than that. How, may I ask, did someone create a text editor in an iOS app that does not seem to take advantage of the built-in spellchecking in iOS? Misspell a word and the Blogger app doesn't care.

My experiment with the app got off on a bad start. After making chicken roasted with tarragon, I typed up a few comments in the app, then put my iPad away. When I returned to the app, I got to see my entry vanish. Unlike expected iOS behavior where a suspended app keeps its state, this was more like quitting and relaunching a desktop app (except that even current MacOS apps typically return open documents to you). On my first attempt, it ate my post.

After that happened, I tried to carefully recreate some of my thoughts. I saved frequently. Later, I opened the post on the web interface. Some lines were in one typeface, others in another. It was a mess. I highlighted the whole thing, removed formatting, and fixed it up.

My next (and probably final) attempt was on another post. I was just going to type up something short and attach a picture or two. You can't format the pictures in iOS app. No setting their size, position, or adding a caption. You have to do that in the web interface. Nor can you add links. Clearly, Google is telling me that if I want to blog, I need to use the web interface.

With all these problems, there's also a surprising lack. Where's the Dashboard? Behind the scenes, I can see how many hits an article has received, what the referring URLs are (currently, Facebook), and a variety of other things (such as pending comments, which haven't been an issue for me). You get none of that in the app. For that you have to go (you know where) to the web interface.

Google ought to make an iOS app that is a significant improvement to working in a browser window. With Blogger for iOS, they haven't.

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