The State of Mobile Blogging: It Ain’t Pretty

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So I’ve been doing some research on mobile blogging, trying to find the best solutions out there. The situation is pretty dire. So far, it looks like the best solution out there is actually from Windows Live (née MSN) Spaces. Windows Live actually lets you register, create a blog and start publishing it all through the mobile browser.

In contrast, Blogger has some information on mobile blogging that involves a convoluted “email to post” (which only works with U.S. carriers by the way — HELLO PEOPLE – THE WEB IS GLOBAL). TypePad claims “industry leading” mobile features but doesn’t seem to have any way to sing up or create a blog from the mobile and it’s also e-mail based. You can use Nokia Lifeblog with Typepad but you need to have a Nokia phone to do this. WordPress is likewise a wash. Vox doesn’t have obvious mobile support either.

What’s going on here? It’s pretty easy to write a Web form that accepts a blog post. Even Microsoft can do it! I thought we were further along here, as a society I mean. Am I missing something? Are there other turn-key solutions out there for mobile blogging?

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31 Comments on “The State of Mobile Blogging: It Ain’t Pretty

  1. I agree with you in terms of what is available, but I use blogger via email and it works here in New Zealand. The only problem is the set up instructions are not easy but a mobile blog is set up automaticay and then you can link it to an existing blog you have created in blogger if you want to, or your blog ends up being called something random by blogger when the mobile one is created. Should work anywhere in the world.

  2. I’m glad to hear that, Mark, but can you explain to me how this works? I visited Blooger’s instructions on “Learn how to start mobile blogging” and I get a page that tells me to “email go@blogger.com.” When I did this, I get “your carrier is not supported” as a message back. I guess my point was: why not use the mobile browser? Why the rigamarole with email, MMS, claim codes, etc…? It’s all very “mobile 1.0”.

  3. I’m surprised you forgot Nokia’s seminal effort in this space, Dan, “Lifeblogger” for S60. Of course, it isn’t really being worked on in the same way anymore, but it is there…

  4. Another one: Wavelog for Nokia S60 phones. “Wavelog is a blogging client application developed for S60* phones. It allows posting of the content as text, image, audio or video, to a Web log (blog) directly from the mobile phone using any type of available network (mobile phone or Wi-Fi network).” Tested with Nokia N95. http://www.telewaving.com/products_2.html

  5. Hi Dan,

    From my point of view the eMail approach offered by most platforms works quite well. The major disadvantage is that you can’t really insert links and do formating (bold, italics, etc.). That’s quite limiting especially when blogging from events.

    Once more than just Nokia Nseries web browsers become JavaScript and AJAX capable things could change as it gives you more degrees of freedom during editing than a web 2.0 static web page approach only.

    So for 3GSM I’ve adopted a 2 device strategy for mobile blogging. A N93 for picture and video uploading via Shozu and an N800 for writing the text for the posts in the standard web browser.

    Still, as you say, quite a way to go.

    Cheers,
    Martin

  6. Hey Dan,

    Last year I wanted to blog the entire Glastonbury festival from my N95.
    The only provider that I found that could do this easily for me, was VOX.

    Did you happen across them in your search?

  7. After hunting around for an app to do it with no success I ended up simply using the main browser on my E61i to post to my Blogger account – which was entirely workable though not massively quick.

    I imagine any of the Safari browsered Nokia S60s would be able to do this. Obviously not massively efficient in mobile data terms though!

  8. Hi Dan, you forgot that Blogger is pre-installed in all Sony Ericsson camera-phones. So all you need to do is select Send-To-Blog from the camera menu, and the picture or video is posted to a Blogger blog.

    But you are right that Blog providers in general could do a much better job to enable mobile blogging.

  9. I use a Nokia Internet Tablet (n800 or N810) and Maemo WordPy which is an offline blog client for WordPress. It’s feature rich and lets you compose full posts quite easily. An upcoming release will allow for flickr posting and embeds which will be quite nice as I tend to upload from the phone (N95) to flickr frequently as well.

  10. Dan,

    Typepad’s mobile blogging apps are located here: http://www.typepad.com/features/mobile.html

    Unfortunately, none of those allow you to create the blog on your mobile. However, I’m not convinced that’s the biggest issue. I think that actually posting from your mobile is the big one. There’s also a wordpress plugin: http://wphoneplugin.org/ that will work on the iPhone and also Nokia’s S60 browser to re-format your WordPress dashboard for the mobile, allowing you to perform most admin tasks through your mobile browser.

  11. Sorry for the double-comment, Dan.

    Of course, the other question is, given the popularity of PC-blogs, and the lack of mobile-blogging solutions, is there really much demand for it?

    Along those same lines, IF it were dead easy, what exactly would people like to blog from their mobiles? I doubt most would really want to hack out an entire blog post, links and all, from their mobile phone, even if it DID have a full QWERTY keyboard.

    If they’re more into blogging pics/videos, then there’s other options such as ShoZu for instantly getting that content online for sharing.

  12. I use Shozu to upload pictures to Flickr, edit on the full Flickr site using Opera Mini then use the option in Fickr to post to Blogger. It’s a bit of a pain but it works.

  13. Mobile blogging can be hard. It’s a fact. Applications that are pre-configured to post to your preferred host are great, but there are issues using it on Java only handsets. For me, this is where MMS actually comes into it’s own.

    MMS has always been a poor cousin to SMS, I think because psychologically, when you send an MMS, what do you get back? 99% of the time it’s either nothing or an SMS. That’s because the recipient is like “cool, but what, do I have to send a picture/video back?”.

    MMS is the best method of mobile blogging simply because it’s native, interoperable with all networks (even internationally), and is just about the same as sending an SMS and so ease of use is the key. Factor in that many contracts and even PAYG users often have an MMS allowance per month and it stands out as the best way to moblog.

    The trick to using MMS as an effective method of mobile blogging is to have an authentication/registration system as standard on the backend of whatever system/host you want to blog to. i.e. why not write a WordPress script that accepts an anonymous MMS, sends you an SMS asking you to confirm your username and password, and upon validation then allows any further MMS’s to be published directly to your blog. Not a hard thing to write, any WordPress coders lurking out there.

    This is the system we use on our latest iteration of the Participation Toolkit ( http://moblogtech.com/products/participation-toolkit/ ) at The Big Art Mob. ( http://www.bigartmob.com )

    An anonymous user sends an MMS, we send them a text back with registration details, validate the MSISDN, and voila, they have a blog they can post to forever using that mobile number. This is limited to the UK since The Big Art Mob is a UK project, but there’s no issue in allowing international MSISDN recognition.

    So mobile blogging can be hard, or it can be super easy, it just takes a bit of thought as to what people actually want to do and finding the easiest way to do that securely.

  14. What do you think of being able to comment on a blog via mobile – instead of typing you’d record a sound file and upload it? Would you support that kind of functionality Dan? Perhaps even create blog posts by recording direct to the blog instead of any writing?

  15. You might want to check out our new free instant SMS blogging service launched this week in beta.

    You send any SMS to out gateway in the U.K. and your blog is instantly created on this url:

    http://www.glimt.com/yourphonenumber

    We think this is pretty cool, we made it simple and basic so anyone can experiment with different uses.
    Tell us what you think!
    Thanks.

    Hans
    Glimt.com

  16. Hans — I think your service is cool, but I see one big problem with it: you have to give out your mobile number in order to use the service. So anyone who reads your blog now knows your mobile number. Might there be some way to configure it with a hashed or otherwise anonymous string, or with a string of my choice?

  17. Paul — Although I think it sounds good in theory, this will have the same problem that Spinvox has — transcoding errors. Now, if I can review and correct my spoken blog comment before posting it that might help. But it would still be awkward to do this in a public setting like a bus or train.

  18. Thanks to everyone who left comments on this post, by the way! There seems to be a great deal of interest in this topic. For my own part, I forgot Kyte.tv which offers a kind of mobile blogging/podcasting service. Daniel Graf showed off Kyte at the most recent Mobile 2.0 and it was widely regarded as way cool.

  19. Has anyone tried Wavelog with phone other than N95? I’m wondering if it would work with E61 or E62…

  20. Hi Dan.

    You might fancy trying out BlogIt, Esendex’s new, free, mobile blogging service: http://www.esendex.com/en/UK/Services/Blog-It/?

    You set it up with some credentials that allow posting to your existing blog. Then, when you want to post, you just send an SMS to 07786 204 255 (you may notice it’s a Vodafone number :) ) to have it automagically appear on your blog.

    Would really welcome your feedback.

    Adam

  21. I’ve been looking a this myself recently, and have found that as good as email posting is, if you’re doing it from your Windows Mobile Outlook app and posting to a WordPress installation, you risk seeing the formatting characters on the WordPress blog. The only way around is to use GMail or Hotmail.

    Other blogging solutions are better served, so even 7 months on the situation is pretty dire.

  22. Hi,

    Blogging on the mobile was easy, if you had a nokia, I decided to cover last year’s (2007) Symbian Smartfone show, from a symbian smartfone as an experiment on how easy it was,

    http://christian-borrman.typepad.com/

    and I have to say, once I had read up on typepad’s instructions, and reluctantly paid up my x dollars per month, it worked.

    It even seamlessly worked with switch from N95 to N95 8GB

    But then Nokia got all Ovi, and now lifeblog links all lead to Nokia Photos, which is simply not the same.

    As Ricky says above, typepad now has its own client now, which I have not tested.

    there are also sites like moblog.net, however, in this day and age, blogging by SMS, MMS and email is just… well it ain’t pretty as you say.

    I will check out wavelog now, that Heike recommends…

  23. I’ve been mobile blogging for a couple of years now. Set up my own CSS, uploaded images, made all my posts all from my phone.

    Two words – Opera Mini.

  24. Telewaving.com released a new version of Wavelog just a week ago. It’s a totally new application. Supports categories, taggs, resizing photos, embedding videos, even mixing wordpress with youtube and picasaweb if one can’t upload to the blog server directly. What’s the most important for me is HTML editing and editing previously published posts. The best of all is that you may setup several blog providers, so if you have more than one blog, it’s a peace of cake to publish posts while on the move. I actually don’t carry my laptop anymore, and now I can blog while riding my VTT… I suggest you to try the free trial and you’ll forget opera mini. You don’t want to be online all the time especially if in roaming.

  25. CellSpin (www.cellspin.net) support mobile Blogging for all smartphones, you can do photo blogging, audio blogging, video blogging and plain old Text blogging … They have an mobile app for Windows mobile , Nokia, iPhone, Palm OS, Blackberry and more …

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