7 Missing Features from the WordPress for iPhone App

The Wednesday morning before last, I was excited to see that WordPress released an official iPhone application to the world.

I instantly downloaded it, and added several of my WordPress blogs to the app. Aside from the annoying Twitter Tools glitch (which sent an empty tweet on blog setup), I was surprised to see some big omissions that would impede regular usage for site administrators… at least from my standpoint.

  • Dashboard functions
    As readers here know, I don’t post every day. I do, however, very regularly check my WordPress Dashboard. The Dashboard wraps up basic stats, such as the five most recent comments, incoming links, number of new unapproved comments, and WordPress news for the package itself (and 3rd-party plugins).

    I find this data invaluable to know if there’s anything I need to take action on (such as marking a new comment as ‘approved’ or ‘spam’) or learning about a security exploit.

  • Global Drafts
    The second-most popular task for me in WordPress is creating and editing a draft post on the server. It generally takes me several revisions before I post a “post” here. (This one, for instance, has taken 10+ edits over 1.5 weeks.)

    Unfortunately, though, the iPhone WordPress app only can edit and save local drafts (i.e. those on the iPhone itself). This is probably the biggest deal-breaker for me. I don’t want to write and edit on my iPhone, as the keyboard is so awkward. I would, however, as it makes it convenient to drop in a quick edit or two, or get started on a new idea. But, preferably, I’d take a full, non-finger-crippling, physical keyboard experience over the on-screen, cramped digital keyboard. Because of this, I wouldn’t now dream of starting a post on the iPhone knowing I couldn’t switch back to the desktop keyboard later.

    Maybe one day Apple will allow Bluetooth keyboards to pair with the iPhone. (Maybe even starting with their own keyboards, in fact!) Until then, this app will just serve as a monitoring and quick editing environment.

    (Side note: It appears this issue may be larger than that of this app. I’ve noticed similar drawbacks plague ecto and MarsEdit, too. Anyone know why this is, and/or a workaround?)

  • Links (add, remove, order)
    The iPhone has a number of built-in controls and UI elements for creating and managing lists. WordPress, too, has great built-in support for Links which populate a blog’s Blogroll section. Why not blend the best of both worlds? List management for your blog using the iPhone’s easy list management UI features? It sounds delightful.
  • Widget addition, order, removal
    Similar to Link management, the ability to re-order, customize, and enable/disable Widgets for WordPress. Honestly, re-ordering widgets using the WordPress Web-based manager is rather awkward… having used the iPhone’s list control UI before, I imagine I’d prefer handling all Widget activity on the iPhone altogether.
  • Plugin control and updates
    Plugins are well-known to cause performance issues for some WP blogs, and occasionally they can cause sites to come to a screeching halt. Being able to toggle a plugin on and off remotely would allow site administrators to quickly re-enable a site simply by flipping a plugin off (and/or back on). Further, WordPress now allows most plugins to be updated (when updates are offered) via the Web interface. As such, being able to click a couple links to bring all your plugins up-to-date would be very useful.
  • Run backups
    The thing about backups is: you never think to backup your files till its too late… why not just offer the “Save to server” and “Email backup” options (sans “Download to your computer” due to limited iPhone storage opportunities)?
  • Stats
    Last but not least, the WordPress Stats plugin has become invaluable to me. I’m a big fan of Google Analytics (who significantly raised the bar on visualizing web usage data several years ago), but there are few times that I head over to the Google site to check out how my blog is doing. The WordPress Stats plugin gives me my most basic visualizations (such as visitors over time, top posts, top searches, and most active) right on the Dashboard. It’s not a 3rd-party plugin, as its made by Automattic (the folks behind WP itself and Akismet), so no (legal) reason not to include in this package.

    I know the plugin currently uses Flash to render its chart, but I’d happily deal with a static, cached PNG or GIF if that got me some level of site monitoring via the app.

Please, don’t get me wrong. I understand I’m looking at a 1.0 release, not a 2.x or 3.x version. Many of the features I’m describing are fine to release after supporting basic posting functionality. Further, the app is free… which means the good folks at Automattic dropped at least a benjamin simply to offer freeloaders (like myself and all other WordPress user) a means of managing our blogs on the go. (So, to the good folks developing this app, “thank you.”)

Automattic has been kind enough to provide a list of upcoming bug fixes and features for the app. I didn’t see any of my ideas already listed there, but don’t doubt that as time passes, the app will become considerably more usable.

What features of the app do you find missing? And/or invaluable while on the go?

Update: Daniel Jalkut, author of MarsEdit, kindly offered a solution to the issue of Global Drafts, which ended up serving as a great workaround. (Thanks, Daniel! Anyone else know how to solve the remaining open 6 features?)



  1. Daniel Jalkut said,

    August 3, 2008 @ 4:05 pm

    With MarsEdit at least, you can set the “Post Status” of a post (from the options panel). If you set it to Draft, it will be sent to WordPress as a “server draft” (not local). Then, if you refresh from another client it shows up in the posts list, can be edited, and resubmitted.


  2. kentbrew said,

    August 3, 2008 @ 4:17 pm

    It’d be completely awesome if WP for the iPhone could show the number of comments left to approve for your blog with a tiny red number on the icon, like unread messages in Mail.

  3. That Kid from Omaha said,

    August 3, 2008 @ 10:02 pm

    @Daniel: Funny you mention that… I was just on your site, reading up, and trying the suggestion you posted in your forums: editing the date on server-side Drafts to be waaay in the future.

    Turns out, this little trick also works for the iPhone app! Just tried it out, and edited a Draft (which remained in Draft status) from the server on the iPhone. Very cool.

    And, by the way, MarsEdit is very impressive. A number of fellow Yahoo! folks use it and have spoken highly of it. I purchased ecto some time back (before you acquired ME from Ranchero), but have downloaded MarsEdit a couple times to see where things are at there… particularly in regards to remote server editing. From what I’ve seen, I think I’d now choose MarsEdit. (Hint, hint, to anyone reading.)

    Just out of curiosity, what percentage of MarsEdit users 1) have more than 1 blog setup, and 2) have different blogging platforms configured? (In other words, do you see a fair number of folks with Blogger, Movable Type, *and* WordPress blogs all configured within the same instance of the MarsEdit app?)

    Anyway, thanks for the note here, and keep up the great work on developing Mac apps.

  4. That Kid from Omaha said,

    August 3, 2008 @ 10:19 pm

    @kentbrew: Amen. Looks like comment support is coming in 1.2, but the badge on the app’s Home screen icon is even nicer.

    Better yet (at least for people like me using Disqus to manage blog comments), a Disqus app (or Intense Debate app) alone would be great. I’d use that rather extensively.

  5. josephscott said,

    August 4, 2008 @ 10:09 am

    Keep an eye out for updates, we’ve got a number of new features that we want to get in the iPhone app. Some of these require changes to the XML-RPC APIs to make them work, which we are actively engaged in.

  6. Daniel Jalkut said,

    August 6, 2008 @ 9:11 am

    Glad to hear the workaround was helpful. You know, I’m not really sure about the statistics off the top of my head. I’ve been collecting statistics (voluntary from users), but have not compiled them and evaluated them in quite a while. Maybe it’s time to do so once again.

    Last time I looked, I just measured popularity of systems, and at that time it was confirmed for me that WordPress was far and away the most popular among my users.


  7. joan71 said,

    January 1, 2011 @ 7:49 pm

    Unfortunately, though, the iPhone WordPress app only can
    edit and save local drafts (i.e. those on the iPhone itself). This
    is probably the biggest deal-breaker for me. I don

  8. jeff1 said,

    January 2, 2011 @ 3:24 pm

    Unfortunately, though, the iPhone WordPress app only can edit and save local drafts (i.e. those on the iPhone itself). This is probably the biggest deal-breaker for me. I don

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